Look Kids, Parliament Flexadelic

Played a very funky gig Saturday….

and during the sound check, the bass player was laying down the groove to Parliament’s “Do That Stuff.”  As the saying goes, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail and when you’re a purveyor of sarcastic lip slurs, everything sounds like a flexibility study.

Here’s a link to the original groove.  It drops about 30 seconds into the track and is in the key of E, of course.

“Do That Stuff” – check out the groove here:
Download the first page of Parliament Flexadelic:



Looking for someone to help take you playing to the next level?  Can’t help you there.

Do you want to make playing in the upper register simple and easy?  Not so much there either. Takes work and thought. Plus, you have to be able to do it “in traffic”, that is, in an actual live musical setting, on demand, in time, with human people.  Not just on the internet into your phone.

Looking for something new to practice? There we go.

Download the first page of “Tastee Slots” below:

Tastee Slots p1 (19)



Each year at this time, teachers and students alike begin to post and share ambitious and exhaustive summer practice regimens. Although they are meant to inspire, these “best laid plans” tend to take on the character of those old drawings of flying machines that were doomed to plummet straight down from the edge of the boardwalk into the surf.  Yes, summer is a great time to finally get the practice hours in that seemed so hard to come by during the academic year, but often, players can find it even more difficult to get jump-started without the structure of a busy schedule.  Combine this with an imposing and unrealistic musical check-off list, and let the avoidance mechanisms kick in.

One such practice summer schedule I recently witnessed online, was the musical equivalent of “This summer, I’m going to lose 2,150 lbs. and 42 dress sizes, play “Giant Steps” in all 13 keys,  compose my first two symphonies left-handed while spending the days serving the community by lighting fires for the poor.”  If that was my to-do list for the day, I’d stay in bed.  The fantasy summer practice schedule, like its cousin, the New Year’s Resolution, quickly makes its way to the guilty scrap-heap of failed enterprises without so much as a running start.  What to do?


As an accomplished practice-avoider, procrastinator, and otherwise distracted human, I’ve developed a summertime practice coping mechanism that seems to work for me. Here are the basics:

•  Set the bar as low as possible.  By defining success in modest terms, you may have a shot of at least accomplishing one thing today.  Yes, this is the opposite of the “New-Year’s-Resolution-Ironman-Ninja-Warrior-Conquer-the-World” approach, but at least it has the  potential side-effect of getting you started with minimal dread and guilt and offers the promise of a realistic and fulfillable goal.  It may be difficult to lose that 2,150 lbs. if you can’t put the fork down just once.

•  Play something, don’t practice something.  I like to start by playing along with a catchy tune from one of the great Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks (see below).  Just put on a track and play along, try to pick out the melody in real-time, don’t worry about missed pitches.  Stop to figure out the pitches if necessary, but just try to learn the melody.  This can be MUCH easier than “transcribing” an improvised solo, after all, it’s just picking out a tune.

When you play in this way, YOU are accompanied by the world’s greatest singers on tunes written by history’s great songwriters, arranged by legendary arrangers.   This has the added benefit of making you sound better by association.

Set your timer, and just do this for about 10 minutes.  If you are like most folks, after ten minutes, you will probably want to keep going just a little longer which is totally cool. Or, you may be ready to move on to other material, either way, you’ve already spent 10 minutes sounding pretty good playing great music without having to knock yourself out.

Here’s today’s assignment — Play along and learn the tune to:

“Yesterdays” by Jerome Kern. Performed by Ella Fitzgerald. Arranged and Conducted by Nelson Riddle.

“Kitchen Sink” Articulation, Chromatic, Chord, Flex, and Scale Study

Sometimes, one gets bored.  Just keep your fingers and lips away from the garbage disposal.

Download SB Kitchen Sink Study 1 (18) Double

Doc’s Corners: 8th Wonder of the World

At 91 years old, Doc Severinsen displays a control, power and musical energy that are simply beyond comprehension for most players.  Here is some video I took from the I.T.G. Cancer Blows rehearsal in San Antonio last year.  There is a lot to unpack, but I believe there is a career to be had in understanding what is really going on in those corners.  Listen, watch, and learn.  Doc figured it out for you.

Doc’s Candid CornersDoc's Corners (BurnsPic)

Photo courtesy of Kevin Burns Photography – Thanks Kevin!

“Name that Slur, Win a Free Book” Contest Winner Announced!!

Results are in for the “Name that Slur, Win a Free Book” contest- Congratulations to the winners. Final results:

Grand Champion(s):

Tim Fogarty “I Plead the (Descending) 5th” 11 like
(+2 pts from the house because my wife laughed out loud at your title) ~ Tim wins naming rights, however he has already received a free copy of PLF, so that goes to:

Ryan Beach:“Why do these keep popping up on my Facebook” 10 likes – wins the FREE BOOK
(+2 pts from the house because my wife laughed out loud at your title)

2nd Place 
Matthew Anklan “Lip Slur?! I Hardly Know Her!” 9 likes

3rd Place (5-way Tie)

Nate Lesiak “Tongue-Tied and Finger-F(ill-in-the-blank)ed” 7 likes
(+2 pts from the house because my wife laughed out loud at your title)

JG Miller: “Slurry McSlurryface” 7 likes
(+2 pts from the house because my wife laughed out loud at your title)

Brad Goode “Make It Stop.” 7 likes

Jeff Folkens “Game of Groans” 7 likes

Liesl Whitaker “Hold my Beer” 7 likes

Tim Steepe – “You Can’t Be Slurious!” 7 likes

Honorable Mention:

Michael Shults “Terrence” only 1 like (but a critics pick)

Bryan Davis “Thank you Slur, May I Have Another…” 6

Marylee Vennemeyer “I Can’t feel my face when I’m with you…and I like it?” (critics pick)

Rules Violation(s) update and House Edits of Note from the Judges’ Panel

Victor Cummings “Mr. Belck, I don’t feel so good”

Judge Joey Tartel: “Victor- it’s Dr. Belck. Are you trying to get yourself disqualified?”

Victor Cummings “”Shit….” …..”Fixed”

“Dr. Belck, I Don’t Feel So Good”

Adrian Griffin “pull my finger”

Scott Belck “Disqualified!!! See “Progressive Lip Flexibilities for Brass” 2019. Already published as “Pull My Fingering Chart” on page #73. Judges Joey Tartel and William Stowman – this title shows a complete lack of knowledge of the oeuvre, need a ruling for the appropriate penalty!! We need another ruling.

Judge Joey Tartel “Shocking! Although I appreciate Adrian’s enthusiasm for the contest (with multiple entries), this kind of careless oversight is unacceptable!”

Judge William Stowman: “Adrian Griffin DISQUALIFIED. Sorry man, great idea. . .but you’ve got to know the lexicon.”

Matt Dixon “Su-per-ca-li-fra-gile-stiff-lip-expiali-slur-ocious” 7 +2
Judge William Stowman “Matt Dixon nice work. . . But the royalties to Disney would break LSWHQ. . . Scott already owes money for infringing on tunes from Oklahoma. . . See what I did there?”

Max Levowitz “Suicide Slur”
Scott Belck: “Max – you need to work with your raw materials and editing process. Something like “Assisted Sluricide”, which, I’m keeping for myself.”

Max Levowitz “Scott Belck I’m disappointed in myself, and the fact that I’ve let you all down. I shall tuck my tail between my legs and go back to the drawing board.”

Thanks to all who participated and two our esteemed judges panel. If you didn’t win your free copy of “Progressive Lip Flexibilities for Brass” it’s not too late to order your copy at the link in the comment section below. Slurpplies are limited and operators are standing by.


I Plead the (Descending) 5th

Anxiety Fueled Achievement.

It may sound kind of funny, but it’s also kind of true. I’d like to say that I’m an early riser because of my radiant and hopeful disposition towards a day promising the glory of art for art’s sake, the joys of connecting eager minds with the means to guide themselves to the heights of aesthetically robust expression, and the potential of the sun setting on a day of good deeds well done.  But the main reason I can consistently drag myself out of bed in the early a.m. is because I know that if I don’t, something important is not going to get done and somebody is going to be pissed off, or disappointed, or let down, left hanging, or some combination of the above.

Now let me qualify, that person is most likely to be me, and that something important is probably going to be practicing my horn, but it rolls down hill from there.  This isn’t a bad thing, actually, it’s quite the contrary.  You have to take your motivation where you can get it, and my patented “Oh, shit.” method is a proven career jump-starter. Unromantic. Effective. What are the chances your tone will be perfect today anyway, or that you’ll play the great American solo, or that Lincoln Center will call with that gig you’ve been hoping for, or that the pretty girl in the next practice room will be moved to tears by the way you phrase that Bitsch etude, and coyly slide her number under the door in hopes you’ll call?

Chances are, today will be a day when you have to grind, working for an abstract goal that seems to have a nebulous chance of realization.  Or, you could get an emergency text saying “Can you play lead on the second half of “Wicked”?  lead player just blew out a blood vessel in his eye” (happened), or “Bootsy would like you to stop by his place and audition TOMORROW”, or one of a million uncomfortable, untimely, and inconvenient opportunities that don’t have the common courtesy to present themselves at a good time in your life.

So you might as well get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Getting up early is great training for that.  Tomorrow when that bed feels all warm and snuggly, just remember the two magic words.  If that doesn’t get you going, don’t worry, somebody else is already getting up and getting the jump on you.  Have you considered a career in retail? They say the hours are pretty good.

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