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Uh, how the heck?  I thought merit badge counselors were supposed to be "experts".  If the counselor can't play, how does he know if the scout has played correctly?

 

I thought the same thing when I read this, but then remembered all the "experts" at summer camp that crank out MB's in their MB Mill programs.

 

I have yet to meet a bugling MB counselor who really knows what he/she's doing.  Playing the bugle is not the purpose of the bugle, what it is used for is quite a different thing.

 

To the Colors and Taps maybe Reveille might get played, but To the Colors is not played as the flag goes up and Reveille  really doesn't get anyone up as it's supposed to.  The bugler can play all day long and impress everyone with his skill, but if no one knows what the calls mean, his efforts are totally useless.

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Only comment as the Dad of a tubist, who got to spend 1000s of dollars to rework a badly developed embouchure...

 

Talk with the boys clarinet teacher. Make sure the brass embouchure work is not going to goof up the reed embouchure!

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The "USE" of a bugler is , as has been noted, dependent on (1) the intention of the event or Unit Leadership (do they want  a bugler, do they want the time keeping notice affect or the ceremonial affect or the tradition affect or...)   and (2) the skill and attention of the bugler and (3) the recognition of the participants of what that noise means, (if anything). 

If the leaders see a need and utility of the bugle, then they will work (1) to make it's playing a serious matter to the participants (3) and make sure they know what to expect.  Similarly, the leaders will work to make sure the Bugler (2)  knows his skill is appreciated and not just tolerated.   Encouragement is a good thing. Is the Bugler part of the PLC?  Does the SPL  remind/tell/instruct the Bugler to "make the call"?  Is the Bugler really trying to achieve virtuosity or just "putting in time"?    

 If it's close to 6am, and they hear "the noise",  it should be Reveille and it's time to get moving.   If it's coming up 7am, and you hear "the noise" (best if it can really be considered "music", yes?) , probably it's "assembly" and time to gather at the flag pole, or at the fire ring so we can walk up to the "parade ground" as a Patrol and/or Troop.  Eventually, the calls will be recognized (tin ears not withstanding), and the communicative utility of the bugle will be achieved.  But it takes consistency and insistence. 

 

It takes awhile for all this to happen.  The Bugler needs a bugle , a reliable time piece (!) and Leaders that want him to do a good job and rely on him to do a good job. 

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OK... I'll chime in ... player of trumpet, trombone, french horn .. parent of bass trombone major

 

Fundamentals of Brass Playing

 

1) The bugle mouthpieces I've seen are really not conducive to learning to play a brass instrument...if the bugle will accept a trumpet mouthpiece, to to your local band instrument store and ask for a "Bach 7C" trumpet mouthpiece....is the standard beginner mouthpiece for trumpet. If the bugle has a Cornet size receiver, you can get the Bach mouthpiece for Cornet...if not sure...take the bugle with you.

 

2) Embouchure setting -- in spite of popular view...the lips are not pressed together to get the buzzing action. The easiest way to learn the mechanics is to blow "long tones". Place the mouthpiece to the lips with a slight gap (like trying to blow out a very small candle), begin blowing slowly and increase the force of the air...do not jam the horn into your face. When you are blowing enough air, a buzz will start and you will get a note.

 

3) Long tones - you don't care what note you play as long as you are not straining to play it.  Play long tones ... 6-10 second notes .. breath...6-10 second note...for 5 minutes.

 

4) Changing notes...no..pressing your lips tighter together does not change the note...stretching your lips tighter from the corners of your mouth does. Start with a long tone, when pull the corners of your mouth back with your cheek muscles...keep blowing as you do...the note will "slur" up.  Make them looser, it will slur down.  Lip slurs (as they are called) are the ultimate strengthening exercise for brass players.

 

5) Do not starve the horn for air...more is better.

 

As you play more you will get additional range of notes.  But 15 minutes per day is essential...but do not overplay...bad things can happen...play for 4 days...rest one day.

 

Good luck.

 

P.S. If you have a bright red (or blue) ring on your lips after playing for 15 minutes you are pressing to hard.  Some swelling is normal after a practice session.

Edited by WasE61

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Personally I think there would be merit to broadening the "Bugling" merit badge and Bugling POR to include any instrument the person can play as long as they can play the requisite bugling tunes.

 

If a clarinet or violin player is willing to serve as Bugler and can play the needed tunes,  that would be fine with me!

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So----

 

Do horn players do better kissing pretty girls?

You're darn tootin' we do.

 

Look, Bugler is a bit of a different POR.  Most PORs can be attempted by a scout with absolutely no experience at the task.  Being a "leader" is a rather ethereal thing.  With absolutely no experience, training or understanding, a newly-minted patrol leader can show up and say, okay guys, put your backpacks on and follow me.  VOILA! He's leading the patrol.  But a bugler needs to be able to play a reasonable rendition of assembly (same tune they play to bring the horses to the starting gate at a race) in order to get the troops to assembly.

 

I played trumpet for about 10 years in school, including college.  I've counseled Bugling MB and volunteer for Bugles Across America.  I tell potential buglers they need to be able to comfortably play a high G on a trumpet or coronet to play bugle calls.  In my experience that's a kid who has had at least two years on the trumpet.  If you have the lip to play a high G, I can teach you the bugle calls.  Otherwise, we're wasting each other's time.

 

By the book, (meaning the Guide to Advancement) and kid who struggles for three months as Troop Bugler without playing a note has completed three months of his POR and should get partial credit.  But has he really?  I think that's the point at which a Scoutmaster has a conversation with the scout about doing what is right and about really earning what he is due.  Did you really serve three months as bugler or did you spend three months discovering that you can't really do the job?

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Oooops.... "Assembly" is NOT what you hear before a horse race.  That is called "First Call".   "Assembly" is a whole lot different.    But 2cubdad has the right idea, Bugle is a POR of a different holler. 

 

And that reminds me of a story about an undertaker's vehicle and a bakery sweet,  but no matter.  It is time to be off to play (if I were in camp) "Tatoo" and then "Taps". 

 

G'nite Gracie....

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Personally I think there would be merit to broadening the "Bugling" merit badge and Bugling POR to include any instrument the person can play as long as they can play the requisite bugling tunes.

 

If a clarinet or violin player is willing to serve as Bugler and can play the needed tunes,  that would be fine with me!

 

Respectfully, I disagree.

 

A leadership position is not a leadership position simply by holding the title, but how that position is used to further the needs of the Troop.  I would, personally, be fine with any instrument which had the "reach" of a bugle to be heard across a fair distance so that assemblies could be held, or a revilie that could awaken (most of) the Scouts.

 

It is this position of using their skill to help "herd" the Troop that makes the position a POR.  While a flag call and several others can sound very nice done in other instruments - and I'm all in favor of doing so - that makes a nice ceremony, but not necessarily a POR.

 

POR aspects to the bugler (regardless of the instrument) includes:

1. monitoring the schedule to know when to call assemblies, meals, taps, etc. - helping keep the Leadership Corps on time.

2. taking responsibility to get up early to be able to call revelie for the other scouts to get them up on time.

3. In the spirit of servant leadership, giving up on some of his own personal time to prepare and be ready to help everyone else be on time and maintain their schedules.

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