International Trumpet Guild Journal Book Review

Journal Book Reviews
Vol. 33, No. 4
June 2009
Hession, Patrick E. - Harrison Township, MI: Author 2004 Most noted for his extensive work as lead trumpet for Maynard Ferguson, Patrick Hession developed his formidable abilities through years of playing in the UNLV Jazz Ensemble, Las Vegas show bands, cruise ship bands, and the bands of Lionel Hampton and Glenn Miller. This book contains lessons and exercises that he has developed in a continual pursuit of self-improvement.

Before delving into exercises, Hession writes about his approach to music and identifies some key issues with regard to playing in the upper register on the trumpet. The tone of Hession's writing is very informal, almost conversational. His approach is mindful of both the physical and mental components necessary for success. More specifically, he discusses trumpet players as both artists and athletes, with the idea that each day should bring the player closer to his or her goals.

Hession also emphasizes the importance of maintaining focus while practicing and performing. He refers to being "in the zone" and playing with 100 percent concentration for each note. The importance of air is also discussed at length, with an emphasis on efficient breathing and a supported air flow.

Hession developed the 25 original exercises contained in this book through his practice and preparation in the professional world. The first exercises address breathing, pedal tones, and relaxation. From there, further exercises use chromatics and lip slurs to emphasize the importance of using air properly to produce sound. Centering pitch and tone are also covered. As the book progresses, Hession frequently revisits exercises that are intended to refocus and relax the player. Some of the later exercises address controlling the air stream, glissandos, and lip trills.

Overall, Hession's book presents a very broad and developed mental approach to the upper register. It does not espouse a "one size fits all" mentality, but rather encourages persistence, focus, and an emphasis on the basics of trumpet playing. If there are two points that Hession is insistent upon, they are that both airflow and focus are crucial to success on the trumpet. This book does not claim to make you a lead trumpet player overnight, but it does give you some great insight into the mind and methods of a great lead trumpet player. When played according to Hession's instructions, I found these exercises to be very beneficial.

(Ben Peterson, trumpeter. USAF Band of Mid-America)
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