The Advocate

Newsletter for The Music Education Community of Western PA

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Dr. Kevin Eisensmith

Prior to retiring from full-time teaching in June 2022, Kevin Eisensmith served as the Professor of Trumpet at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for 24 years. He also directed the IUP Jazz Ensemble and the IUP Trumpet Ensemble. Before IUP, he taught for eight years at Eastern Kentucky University.

Dr. Eisensmith holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education degree from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Master's degree in Music Performance from Georgia State University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Performance degree from Temple University. Dr. Eisensmith's primary teachers include John Head, former principal trumpeter with the Atlanta Symphony, and Seymour Rosenfeld, former second trumpeter with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

He served as a solo trumpeter with the U.S. Army Forces Command Band (FORSCOM'S OWN) in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1979-1984. He performed over 700 concerts in 26 states and the Virgin Islands during that period. As a free-lance artist, Dr. Eisensmith has worked with Carol Channing (Hello Dolly!), Richard Harris (Camelot), Barbara Eden (Woman of the Year), Judy Collins, Andy Williams, The Osmond Brothers, Bob Hope, Bernadette Peters, Julio Iglesias, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Doc Severinsen, Shari Lewis, Peabo Bryson, Aaron Neville, Roberta Flack, Melissa Manchester, Marvin Hamlisch, Frank Sinatra Jr., Frankie Valli, the Lettermen, the Moody Blues, Mannheim Steamroller, Natalie Cole, and Peter Nero.

He has performed as principal trumpeter with many regional orchestras in the Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia areas and frequently served as an extra trumpeter with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Eisensmith served as the principal trumpeter with the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra from 1998-2011 and is currently the principal trumpeter with the Altoona Symphony. He performed with the HoodleBug Brass, IUP's faculty brass quintet-in-residence, and the Keystone Wind Ensemble.

He has been a member of the International Trumpet Guild for over 40 years, which boasts a worldwide membership of over 5,000 trumpet students, teachers, and professional players. He served as Secretary for ITG from 2003-2007 and 2017-2019, as Vice President from 2007-2009, and as President from 2009-2011. Additionally, he has been an active participant in the National Trumpet Competition since 1996, and from 2007-2009 served as the Assistant Manager and Competitions Coordinator.

NTC is held annually and attracts hundreds of student trumpet competitors nationwide.

He has published over 50 articles in such magazines as The Sinfonian (the official magazine for Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity), The Instrumentalist, The International Trumpet Guild Journal, and the Bluegrass Music News (the official magazine of the Kentucky Music Educators Association). For fourteen years (1991-2005), Dr. Eisensmith served as compiler and editor for the "Trumpet and Brass Programs" supplement for the ITG Journal.

He appears in over 30 recordings with groups including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Berlioz Requiem and Respighi Pines of Rome), the Keystone Wind Ensemble, and the HoodleBug Brass, which released its first commercial CD – Christmas Postcards from the HoodleBug Brass – in October 2012.

His students have established themselves as successful educators and performers. Many teach in public schools in Pennsylvania and surrounding states, while others have gone on to instruct at the university level. Still, other former students have succeeded as performers and serve as members of military bands and symphony orchestras throughout the United States.

Dr. Eisensmith is a clinician for the C.G. Conn Corporation and performs on the Conn Vintage One B-flat trumpet and flugelhorn. He presents numerous clinics and guest appearances annually throughout the eastern and mid-western states. He has also performed and taught in Australia, Japan, China, Thailand, Russia, Costa Rica, Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Eisensmith has volunteered to contribute a series of articles to the Advocate, starting with what one should consider when purchasing a trumpet in keys other than B-flat.

When Should I Buy My Next Trumpet?

A Guide to Purchasing Trumpets in Keys Other Than B-flat

by Kevin Eisensmith

Trumpet players commonly will own two or three B-flat trumpets during their career. Beginning trumpet players should have a good quality, student line instrument. Some students will switch to an intermediate model trumpet around 7th grade, while others will purchase a professional line trumpet as they enter high school (those with an intermediate model should also consider “moving up” to a professional line instrument in high school). I will not go into the differences between these three levels of instruments here. Simply put, high school trumpet players who want consistent tone production, good intonation, and ease of flexibility in all registers should own and use a professional model trumpet.

A professional model trumpet is a long-term investment. A professional line trumpet will last for an entire career (40+ years) if cared for and cleaned regularly! Professional and amateur trumpet players alike can perform in community bands and orchestras, form chamber brass ensembles, and play for church services and weddings. Trumpet players who own a professional B-flat trumpet are set for life, right? Well, not quite. There are other trumpets that “gigging” trumpet players might want to consider.

The C Trumpet

Simply put, a trumpet pitched in the key of C has 6 inches less tubing than a B-flat trumpet. This difference in the overall length of tubing changes the key of the instrument (a B-flat trumpet has 4’6” of tubing and sounds a step lower than the written pitch. A trumpet pitched in C has 4’ of tubing and plays at concert pitch). The less tubing there is, the higher the resulting pitch.
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The sound of a trumpet pitched in C is somewhat brighter than the sound of a B-flat trumpet. Those performing on a C trumpet for the first time may find it a bit confusing. The notes that are coming out of the trumpet are not the ones the ear expects to hear! I recommend practicing scales and technical studies to get used to the new pitch center (I use this approach for all of the non-B-flat instruments listed below).

The trumpet in C is commonly used in orchestras, where much of the music (but not all!) is written for this instrument (and through transposition, can be played on this instrument). Because the trumpet in C is a “non-transposing instrument” (what you see is what you hear), it is also very useful for performance in church services and other occasions where the trumpet player may play along with singers or keyboard instruments. There is a great deal of solo repertoire written for the C trumpet. I also use the C trumpet frequently with brass quintet. For these reasons, I usually encourage students with a professional-quality B-flat trumpet to purchase a C trumpet next.

Pictured below: Trumpet in B-flat vs. Trumpet in C

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The B-flat/A Piccolo Trumpet

The piccolo trumpet is the most challenging instrument in the trumpet family to play. Most piccolo trumpets made today can be played in two different keys – B-flat and A – by changing the leadpipes. Piccolo trumpets come with two leadpipes, one slightly shorter than the other. The resulting length of the tubing is 2’6” for the piccolo trumpet in A, and 2’3” (half the length of tubing of the B-flat trumpet) for the piccolo trumpet in B-flat.
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The piccolo trumpet looks “cute,” or so I’ve been told. However, it is not cute to play! The piccolo trumpet requires a highly concentrated stream of air and a great deal of support. I do not allow students to begin playing a piccolo trumpet until they can easily and consistently play above a “high C” (C6). Even though there is less tubing, the piccolo trumpet is NOT easier to play!

The piccolo trumpet was created to aid in the playing of music from the Baroque Era, and specifically the music written by Bach, Handel, Telemann, and so on. Many trumpet players use the piccolo trumpet when playing for weddings, including Trumpet Voluntary ( by Jeremiah Clarke and Trumpet Tune and Air ( by Henry Purcell. I use the piccolo trumpet occasionally in orchestras, usually for Handel’s Messiah. There are also several works written for brass quintet that utilize the piccolo trumpet. For many of my students, it is the third instrument that they purchase (after a B-flat and C).

Pictured below: Trumpet in B-flat vs. Piccolo trumpet in A (long model and short model)

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The D/E-flat Trumpet

As with the piccolo trumpet, the D/E-flat trumpet can be played in two different keys, either by changing the bell or changing the tuning slide. There are some very famous works typically played on the E-flat trumpet, most notably the concertos written by Franz Joseph Haydn and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. However, there are few other opportunities to use the E-flat trumpet. I rarely use my E-flat trumpet in orchestral settings. I do use it in the brass quintet, usually by transposing B-flat trumpet parts that are somewhat high.

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I have not played the D side of my D/E-flat trumpet in years! The last time I played in D was when playing the 3rd trumpet part for a work by Bach. Since the functionality of a D/E-flat trumpet is less than trumpets in other keys, the purchase of this instrument is less vital to performing trumpeters.

Pictured below: Trumpet in B-flat vs. Trumpet in E-flat (and D bell) (long model)

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The F/G trumpet, E trumpet, Alto and Bass trumpets

Most trumpet players will never see these instruments, let alone perform on them or own them! They have a very specialized use and as a result, are rarely called for. It should be noted that a bass trumpet requires a larger mouthpiece than the standard trumpet mouthpiece and as a result, is often played by a euphonium player or a trombonist (although the mouthpiece is smaller than the ones that they use). Many times, a marching baritone is substituted for a bass trumpet if called for. They are essentially the same instrument, measuring at 9’ of tubing (twice the length of the B-flat trumpet).

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I used to own an F/G trumpet but used it so rarely that I sold it. I have never played an alto trumpet and I performed on a bass trumpet for only one set of performances (Berlioz Requiem) in my entire career. They are not high on my list of consideration for purchase.

The Flugelhorn

The flugelhorn is pitched in B-flat, the same key as the most commonly used trumpet. The difference between the two is not in the length of tubing, but in how the tubing is shaped. The trumpet’s tubing is mostly cylindrical (straight, parallel sides):

whereas the flugelhorn is conically shaped (like a cone):

The result is a sound that is softer and more mellow. Wikipedia defines the sound of a flugelhorn as “halfway between a trumpet and a French Horn” (

The flugelhorn is included in some orchestral works and even pieces for concert band. However, its greatest function can be found in jazz bands. Trumpet players who play in jazz bands most certainly will want to have a flugelhorn. For students who play in jazz bands, this may be the second instrument that they buy (even before a C trumpet). I also use a flugelhorn on some brass quintet pieces and frequently when playing musicals.

Pictured below: Trumpet in B-flat vs. Flugelhorn

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The Cornet

Likewise, the cornet is pitched in B-flat, although some models from the late 1800s and early 1900s were pitched in both B-flat and A! If you find an old cornet like the one pictured below and it looks like is has two tuning slides, the second slide, when extended, lowers the pitch of the instrument to A.

Wikipedia defines the sound of a cornet as “halfway between a trumpet and a flugelhorn.” ( Historically, the cornet was the soprano voice in the brass family, while the trumpet was the lesser desired instrument. Students up to the 1960s owned and played cornets, but not trumpets. When Louis Armstrong became famous, so did the trumpet, and the cornet became the less desirable instrument of the two.

In contemporary concert bands, the terms “cornet” and “trumpet” are used interchangeably, and few ensembles other than military bands differentiate between the two. Many composers, including Holst, Grainger, and even John Philip Sousa included parts for both cornet and trumpet in their music. British-style brass bands use cornets but not trumpets. Few trumpet players today will also own and perform on a cornet, unless they are members of brass bands.

Pictured below: Trumpet in B-flat vs. Cornet

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The Pocket trumpet and pTrumpet

A pocket trumpet is NOT a piccolo trumpet! It has the same amount of tubing as the B-flat trumpet, the flugelhorn, and the cornet (4’6”). The difference is in how the tubing is wrapped. The coils of the pocket trumpet are much tighter, giving the appearance of a smaller instrument. The pocket trumpet is a novelty. It has no function in an ensemble. Pocket trumpets tend to be “stuffy” and not easy to play. I know some adult trumpet players who pack a pocket trumpet in their suitcases when traveling. Because it is smaller, it is easier to place in a suitcase than a normal trumpet.

The pTrumpet (plastic) is also a novelty, in my opinion. Yes, there are advantages to a pTrumpet over the standard brass instrument, including cost and durability (you can’t dent a plastic trumpet!). However, this article assumes that the trumpet player already owns a professional line B-flat trumpet. A second B-flat trumpet then becomes unnecessary. Sure, it might look cool to play your solo with a trumpet that is red or green, and improvements to the quality of the pTrumpet have been made over the past few years, but the pTrumpet cannot match the tone quality, intonation, and flexibility of a professionally made brass trumpet.

Once you own a professional model B-flat trumpet, keep saving your pennies! If you want to continue playing and performing beyond high school, there are more trumpets in your future.

Bow Maxing and Bow Relaxing

Last month, we published an article describing the importance of properly storing your stringed instrument during the dry, cold months of the year. However, your orchestra string instrument isn’t of much good if your bow is not functioning correctly. Often at JMC, we receive returned rental string instruments where the bow is not relaxed, dirty, and stored carelessly. Relaxing the bow when storing it, and using good regular maintenance, will avoid premature servicing and let it sound its best.

When the bow is not relaxed when stored, it is under constant tension for an extended period. Most of the bow’s components are made of organic materials and are relatively fragile, so constant tension can manipulate its shape. Excessive tension can lead to the bow needing to be restrung early and cause it to lose its camber.

Not only is this an added expense, but it can also make it more challenging to produce a good tone with the instrument. Below are some basic steps to ensure a player gets the best playing experience out of their bow and avoids early servicing.

Relaxing the bow when storing it: If the bow is not relaxed when it is stored, it is under tension which can stretch the hair. It can also cause the bow to lose its camber. Lastly, the student will have difficulty finding the right “feel” for playing if the bow is too tight or loose. Loosen the bow by turning the screw counter-clockwise before storing it so that the hair almost touches the stick.

Keep your bow clean:

After playing, wiping the bow with a soft cloth or cleaning pad is best. Excessive rosin on a bow can amalgamate with the varnish, which can create buildup on the bow, making it more challenging to rehair and play. Simply wiping excessive rosin off the hair with a clean cloth will solve the problem. Also, dirt and grime can accumulate where the stick meets the frog, which can cause the frog to wobble and not feel right when being played.

Keep your bow away from extreme heat and cold: The same holds with the bow as with the instrument itself; excessive dryness and temperature changes can cause it not to function properly. The bow is delicate, being mostly hair and a thin piece of wood, so dryness can cause it to expand and contract, which can cause unwanted alterations in the hair’s tension and the stick’s camber. It is best to store the bow away from windows and heating sources, and a case humidifier is an excellent purchase.

Martin Richter Solo Piano Concert, From the Great American Songbook

Sunday, Feb. 12th, 2pm

1965 Ferguson Road

Hampton Township, PA

JMC Educational Sales Representative Martin Richter will perform a piano concert of pieces from the Great American Songbook.

From the Great American Songbook Foundation:

"The 'Great American Songbook' is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century that have stood the test of time in their life and legacy. Often referred to as "American Standards", the songs published during the Golden Age of this genre include those popular and enduring tunes from the 1920s to the 1950s that were created for Broadway theatre, musical theatre, and Hollywood musical film."

Martin will be performing the pieces in his unique style of piano playing.

Below is a link to a video of Martin performing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow":

For more information about the event visit the Facebook page:

On February 11th, 2023, Johnstonbaugh's Music Centers will host a lessons open house for people to meet some of our instructors. Private lessons are one of the best ways to improve one's skill with an instrument. JMC will be offering 15-minute lessons in guitar and trumpet at Johnstonbaugh's Allison Park store and drum lessons at Johnstonbaugh's Golden Mile store. Instructors will also be performing for the event. If you are considering lessons for yourself, or someone else, this is a great opportunity to get a feel for what lessons will be like and to meet an instructor. Now is the time to give it a try!

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Issued January 2023

Newsletter by Joe Weinzierl and Dennis Emert