advice for a beginning *teacher* of trumpet?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by buehrert, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. buehrert

    buehrert New Friend

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    I am an experienced player of the trumpet, but I am not an experienced teacher of the instrument. So I am asking those who teach trumpet a question about teaching, especially to a beginning student.

    My son is entering 9th grade and has developed an interest in the trumpet this summer, so much so that he's interested in participating in the high school band. This is great! He is motivated, and so am I in helping him. He reads music already (he's a pianist). We're having fun playing together each day for about 20 minutes, warming up with mouthpiece and leadpipe buzzing and then working mostly on long tones for proper breath support and then some basic articulation exercises. He's getting a nice tone in the low register, but mid-staff and above is a strain for him still.

    Because I don't teach beginners, and it's been years since I was one, I have no context for how quickly he should be improving. If he's playing everyday for 20-30 minutes, should he be getting to the C above middle C (and beyond) within a couple of weeks? A month? What would be a reasonable expectation for him to be able to do by the time school (and the marching band season) starts in late August?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Were I his instructor and the band director, I wouldn't expect him to qualify on Bb trumpet for high school marching band before he started his high school Junior year and that is stretching it because he can read piano music.

    From the pianist perspective, I do hope he can play much higher on Bb trumpet than a middle C by then. From such a perspective a "middle C is on the only ledger line between the treble and bass clefs. Just to be in tune with the piano "middle C" and in the concert key of C, on the Bb trumpet he'd have to be playing a D on Bb trumpet, the space just below the treble clef.

    The only possibility that he could now qualify on trumpet for marching band in a shorter time than many years is the rarity that he can play the trumpet by ear and not have to read the trumpet music. Some accomplished musicians can, but they are a minority.

    Too, as a parent, you now approach the dilemma of your son wanting to participate in sports in high school rather than band.

    Even now my own daily practice sessions and my tutoring sessions last longer than 20 minutes.
     
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    Being a teacher is one thing, a tutor another and a mentor yet another. Teaching trumpet needs a delicate balance of supply and demand. The teacher supplies the lesson material and demands results. The tutor only supplies and the mentor only demands.........

    If the student gets a good start and the teacher makes sure that the breathing and body use are proper and gives them a structured daily routine then a motivated student should have a c major scale in 2-3 lessons, should be able to hold longtones out from 10-20 seconds and perform basic lipslurs. Most of my "beginners" have a c above the staff within 6 months (in lipslurs) if the parents aren't primarily interested in a babysitting service. In that time we have also gotten double and triple tonguing started and functional.

    Marching band is not something conducive to good chop development. The student should be stable beforehand - at least 2-3 years of serious practicing would be my rule of thumb.
     
  4. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

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    Rowuk, I have been accredited with certificate in 3 US States as a teacher. Here, when teaching is offered privately it is customarily called tutoring as is with the intent to augment / advance what they are taught in schools by teachers. Seriously, in the lower grades of all the public schools here in the US that I know of, "band class" is only one day a week and then only for 45 minutes and then without any one on one concern with such as embouchure or other as mentioned here on TM.

    In my prior posts I've stated my lower grade instrumental music teacher-instructor was also my high school band director AND my private TUTOR. Very true he didn't receive his Doctorate with major in Instrumental Music until I was a junior in high school, but before coming to the profession of education he had an illustrious career as a professional musician - cornetist with John Philip Sousa's second commercial band, and when Sousa gave up the band in 1931 due to health, he went on to play with Ringling Brothers Circus.

    I concur that the OPs son has not prior put in the necessary practice time to yet be able to adequately perform in any band, marching or concert, and it is irrational to even suggest he'd now be able to this month.

    However, an instrument played properly should not "beat up the chops". As for marching, there aren't that many in high school bands that can that I've knowledge of. When music is also played, the pace is to the rhythm of the music, a dance if you prefer. Body movement with posture maintained is not detrimental IMO.
     
  5. limepickle

    limepickle Piano User

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    6 months for a C above the staff is very fast... that's impressive.

    As for marching band, it's a mixed bag. With perfect marching form, you can
    march really without any shakes to your upper body, but that's very tough to do. Naturally
    talented marchers can pull off adequate form quickly, but the chops will still
    get a little beat up. And the endurance requirements, even for a lower part, will
    be too much for a brand new player.

    Seeing as how your son already plays piano, I would suggest that you talk to
    the band director about having him play in the pit during the field show so that
    he can be in the regular band playing trumpet. I'm assuming that the high school
    requires all band members to participate in marching or color guard?
     
  6. buehrert

    buehrert New Friend

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    Thanks for the replies so far. A few things I want to clarify as I seek this advice:

    1. I didn't mean to suggest that 20 minutes a day is all he'll ever do. As his chops have strengthened, we've moved toward 30 minutes, and that will lengthen as he continues to develop. I'm not driving this--he is. He's really enjoying this, and I'm enjoying that we can make music together.

    2. I'm under no illusion that he will have achieved mastery in a month. Far from it. My son will not be sniffing 1st (or 2nd) part most of this year. I know that, and he knows that and he's OK with it. But there are other factors at play here besides his development as a trumpet player. Long story short, my work was supposed to take my family overseas for the year, starting later this month. A few weeks ago that all changed, and now we are suddenly staying put. This is quite a transition for our family, after all the planning that had gone into the trip that is no more. For my son, this means starting a new school (high school) and new peer groups forming as the 9th grade class merges. We agreed (my wife, son, and I) that having a musical outlet would be good not only because of his musical aptitude and interests but also from a social standpoint. I'm all for striving for musical excellence, but playing music is and always has been a way of bringing people together. I believe there can and should be a balance, especially at this level.

    3. The band director is on board. Ours is a small district, and the band director encourages music making and participation. He knows our situation, knows my son will have good support and resource at home, and has been very inviting.

    I hear the concerns about him not having put in the practice time, and how marching is not conducive to chop development. We'll have to weigh those against any success he is able to achieve and, more importantly, the enjoyment he experiences making music with his peers in this setting.
     
  7. limepickle

    limepickle Piano User

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    buehrert,

    Based on your 3rd point and last statement, I think
    that it would be feasible for your son to play in the pit during
    the marching season. That will allow him to be part of the same
    peer group without having to worry about developmental
    problems of being new to trumpet while also learning to
    march. Additionally, he will be familiar with the band process
    in case he wants to march the following year, by which time
    he will have matured reasonably in trumpet playing.
     
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    The proof is always in the pudding and while it makes sense to have short, medium and long term goals, planning a career a couple of weeks into the horn is not sensible. The combination of fluency, flexibility and endurance cannot be planned as to when they occur and even if they simultaneously occur.

    Kids can be real tough on others, especially if they think someone is getting preferential treatment. Your "in" with the music teacher is not only an asset in that respect. Your son will need to wing this a bit in the course of the year. You can provide the support and a firm foundation, but at the end of the day, your dream is yours. Your sons "dream" will form in the course of the year, then the rest will line up - or not.

    I have a student with ADHS, he can blow rings around most of the kids in band, but because of the integration issues, will probably not get the chance in junior high where everyone "knows" him. When he changes schools, he gets a new chance with the new peers. We will see where it goes.

    Long tones, breathing, lip slurs are the key building blocks. Google my "circle of breath" here for info on a safe daily routine.
     
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Marching aside, much of the emphasis will be on learning the pieces the band plays by rote. It will be much more complicated than beginning band music, which is usually slow enough to allow the brain to figure out the fingering of the next note. There is just no way to compensate for the lacking thousands of repetitions of musical patterns.
     

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