A thought...

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by ska, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

    Sep 12, 2009
    I was just reading different posts in this section that were so called "looking for advice topics".

    And it got me thinking - this would be the exact same scenario as to go to your trumpet teacher and say: "Alright dude, what do I have to do."

    It seems a bit weird to me in a sense that so many of the young instrument players seem to take everything their teacher tells them for granted.

    And I start thinking about the word "teacher". Who is a teacher? What really is teaching? Is the student supposed to write down everything in their mind like in a biology class, writing all the stuff on a paper, without really paying much attention to the meanings of the sentences.

    I recently visited a music school in my city and I was curious to see the methodology (however it is spelt :( ) of instrument teachers. While I never really got the full picture of the teachers' ways, I did notice a funny sight. A teacher was telling a young trumpet player, that this is how you do place your lips on the mouthpiece, this is how you that and went on and on with facts. And the boy NEVER even discussed the things he was told to do, he agreed with everything. Now is that really teaching, or is it sitting in biology watching out the window and copying down the sentences on the blackboard praying for the bell to ring.

    And in this forum I sometimes get the same feeling, that people are simply looking for concrete advice about how you do this, how can I play better, how can I reach high notes and so forth.

    How is it possible to believe everything you are told. For example: Let's take rowuk ( it s nothing personal, just the 1st 1 to come to my mind ) - No doubt he is a great trumpet player, he has played twice as long as I have seen daylight, and I don't doubt in his abilities to teach or to give advice, BUT that does not automatically mean that you should copy down everything he says without giving some thought about it. And it is the same with every teacher/trumpet player.

    Even this very topic, you should look for loopholes, what makes you think this idea is 100% correct, it may be, then again it may be entirely wrong, people are not perfect, but they should be able to analyse the information they are given, not simply utilise it with no preparation and analysis.

    Share you opinions
  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Since you cannot know what's going on in the students' or the teachers' minds, you really have no idea what sort of questioning might be taking place. Just because you didn't observe it doesn't mean it's not happening.

    When a student is working with a teacher, whether it be biology or trumpet lessons, the student comes as essentially an empty container into which the teacher pours his/her knowledge. One big difference is that biology is a course one takes during the school day when one is forced to be there, not necessarily because anybody in the class really wants to learn it. Music lessons on the other hand are entirely voluntary and so one assumes that the student is actively absorbing what the teacher says. And when one is a beginner, one has no experience from which to question what the teacher says. Speaking from personal experience as a teacher, when I have run into a student who questions everything I ask him/her to do, what results is a lesson time wasted as the student finally accepts that I have a valid reason for asking him/her to do what I started asking in the first place. Only I've had to spend a half hour answering all the questions, and now as the lesson is ending the student finally does what I wanted done in the first minute so we could make real progress and have the student go home knowing more than they did before.

    The teacher is the expert and as an expert and also a good teacher, hopefully the teacher will give enough explanation as to the why so that the student can accept that it makes sense without wasting their money and the teacher's time asking why about every little thing the teacher says.

    The phrase "paralysis by analysis" gets tossed around a lot, and if a person has to have a lengthy answer as to the why of everything the teacher asks, that person will never get very far as a musician.

    If a student questions whether I know what I'm talking about then they should simply find another teacher they feel more confident about. When I go to a teacher I go to that person because they are more of an expert than I am, I go to see what they have to teach me. If I am confused about something I ask for clarification, but I don't constantly question what they are saying.

    Certainly people on this forum are looking for answers -- that's why they ask questions. Not all answers will work for everybody, but nobody knows whether something will work for them unless they try it. Asking further questions about it still won't tell them whether it will work for them or not.
  3. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Lads, a 'teacher' is nothing much more than a facilitator - sure a knowledgeable, experienced, practitioner in many cases, but the art of teaching is to not teach. Any real teacher reading this will know what I mean - that teacher directs, guides, cajoles, encourages, demonstrates, challenges, discusses, questions, and assists the learner to find ways to gather an awareness of self. The real teacher rarely teaches as we think of it - that is better described as lecturing - often not much learning occurs unless the student is nurtured in the process. A necessary part of the process is that the so called teacher learns something too.
  4. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

    Sep 12, 2009

    I'm not saying the absolute first timer should question these things - you are talking giving advice, pointers etc. However when it comes to the real part of trumpet playing - do you tell them that THIS is HOW you do it or you give them a couple of etudes and let them 1st figure it out on their own.

    The paralysis by analysis is referring more to overthinking - being sceptical however, is not overthinking - it is thinking with your OWN head - and that is what I arrived at in my 1st post.

    Sure you can give them the basic principles which to lean by on their way into the world of music and that is totally expected - but if they do not understand these principles then they will find it more and more difficult as the time progresses, and that is not something the teacher can remedy - as it was said - the teacher is a facilitator - and NOT teaching is forcing the student to utilise their own strain of thought to draw their own conclusion of the matter.

    And that is what worries me - the student seems to think that their teacher is some sort of god to them - and they do not even stop for one second to really think WHY things work like the way you tell them. I'm not saying you're supposed to hold an hour long discussion with the student during the trumpet lesson - but do you ever wonder if any of what you are explaining to them is fully understood by them.
  5. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Certainly I wonder if they understand -- and if they don't understand, it shows in their playing and I try a different explanation. I always try to explain why I'm asking them to do something, rather than simply saying "Do this." But I also explain to them that no two human bodies are the same and therefore what works for me might not work for them. I explain the principles behind what needs to be done, I show them how I do it, I watch how they attempt to do it and make suggestions, but they can at best only be general explanations since I can't say "tighten up the 3rd muscle from the left on your right lung to get that high G" -- I can only help them discover how to get the air speed and air pressure to increase to where the trumpet will generate the correct pitch.

    I'm not sure we both understand the concept of "being sceptical" the same way -- to me it means thinking "that probably won't work" whereas it seems you're using it more in an inquisitive way, as in "will that work? how? what if it doesn't work?"

    In the end, each of us needs to figure out how this whole trumpet playing thing works for ourselves, and teachers can only at best be guides and coaches who must be flexible to determine what will work best for each student.
  6. The Kraken

    The Kraken Piano User

    Mar 28, 2007
    Gold Coast - 805
    Interesting thought!!

    In my experiance too me a teacher is one who after disseminating the information makes want to learn.

    In my 55years of life I have had only 1 of those!!
  7. Satchmo Brecker

    Satchmo Brecker Piano User

    Jul 19, 2010
    And something that rarely gets mentioned in our "blame the teacher first" culture (US at least) is that the students parents play a huge role. If the parents don't encourage Sally to practice, don't make an effort to praise and encourage learning, the student and teacher are doomed.
  8. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    As a player for several years who hopes someday to be able to really PLAY, I expect a teacher to tell me what I need to change. Then as a student I give that advice an honest attempt for a reasonable time. Afterward I (and my teacher, if they are worth the money) will know if that advice will work for me or if i need to look elsewhere for answers. Hopefully the teacher knows many different paths to suggest to facilitate mastery. As a STUDENT it is my job to trust the teacher for my next step, and not to place blame there unless after a period of time with no results the teacher still insists on a course that is no longer a good choice. At that point I begin to lose faith in the teacher, and when that happens it is time to start looking for another.
    Sorry if this seems to ramble, but it seems obvious to me how this plays out.
  9. ska

    ska Pianissimo User

    Sep 12, 2009
    Tbh I was thinking about the same thing - I guess it's safe to say that this problem doesn't occur only in the US.

    The typical way of thinking of a young kid is that they go to school for mommy, and get good grades so they could get the new barbie doll (whatever really, altho that cracks me up :D ) - I guess they sub concsciously apply the same method when it comes to instrument playing - they play for the teacher or mommy again.
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Color me crazy, but I've always seen it that teachers perform a couple of roles:

    1.) Present the student with a rounded base of knowledge
    2.) Keep the student from developing bad habits or from doing other things detrimental to their progress
    3.) Keep the path of progress narrow - keep the student from deviating toward things that are not going to help them grow
    4.) Identify issues that the student themselves may not be aware of and prescribe practice to fix them
    5.) Encourage the student to continue to work

    Some people need all of that while other people are self-aware, self-starters and are goal oriented enough that they can go a long way before ever needing the intervention of a teacher.

    I've always said I was self-taught. From a chops/technical pespective this is pretty much true. I had 5 band directors in 4 years of high school and never took lessons from any of them. However, I did have a gentleman in my hometown who was my K-6 music teacher and who was also an accomplished classical pianist and organist who accompanied my HS solo and esemble work, and who was also the organist at a local church. He mentored me musically and kept me going, providing me with music to perform in his church that he knew would challenge me and keep me moving forward as a musician.

    I also had Mr. Stamer, (now he's Dr. Rick Stamer from Norther Arizona University - Northern Arizona University - School of Music) my madrigal choir and show choir director. While this wasn't instrumental, it was most definitely music training because the bulk of what we did was a capella, and he was an excellent director - hence the reason he holds his current post and teaches teachers how to teach. While the band program was sliding into the dumps, the choral program was winning literally every award that could be won for ensembles when we went to contests.

    So did I have teachers? Yes and no - I didn't have someone helping me with my chops and technique, but I did have people who were pointing me in the right directions musically, giving me good materials to work with, and showing by example how practice and rehearsal should be approached.

    I did ok too - 10 years worth of playing trumpet for Uncle Sam, and I've continued to gig on a semi-pro level doing big band, brass quintet, solo church work, party band, and a myriad of other 1-off projects.

    I once was speaking with Roy Burns (drummer for Woddy Herman, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, etc) over the telephone and the subject of finding a drumming teacher came up. He told me, "don't find a teacher who is going to tell you how or what to play, find a teacher who is going to teach you how to practice." Coming from him, I kind of take that as Gospel.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2010

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