Another Audition Failure (Tone)

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by garmeth, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. garmeth

    garmeth New Friend

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    So around my area we have two major non high school related auditions that a student can sign up for. One is kind of a state/district wide blind audition that requires you to play a technical etude from the arban book ( it goes through a 3 year rotation of number 11, 12, and 8) and a short lyrical excerpt plus a lot of scales and some sight reading. That contest takes place in the fall, and if you and usually if you're among the top 4 trumpeters out of about 70 auditions at district you go to the state wide festival. Now, I went in to this competition with a false sense of confidence because last year my band director gave me a solo over two trumpet players ( who both went on to make allstate last year as seniors) and so this year I thought I would give the festival a serious try. I practiced a good ammount specifically for the etudes required and ended up getting a measly 10th chair. I was shocked but wrote that audition off as a fluke/ blamed it on phrasing in my lyrical etude.

    Another festival came up with the same judge and it was more local so I aimed to get 1st-2nd chair at this audition. The format for this one was a lot more casual and wasn't blind. You walk in, introduce yourself to the judge and then play the only thing required which is sight reading. So after my audition which I thought went well I saw the list and that I didn't even make the honor band and was absolutely dumbfounded again. There were 2 non honor bands which were of the same skill level and I ended up getting 5th chair in one of those bands recently, which is about 20th overall ( Far worst than I did at the previous festival and the competition here was even easier). So, I went and asked the judge for a lesson which he gave me.

    During the lesson he told me that my biggest issue was sounding bright, which shocked me yet AGAIN because the only music I listen to is band music and I try to compare my tone to other great trumpeters; admittedly I am far away from a world-class tone but I still thought that my tone wasn't my biggest issue but apparently it is by far my biggest flaw. His comment hit me like a train because whenever I play I always try to produce my best "dark" sound and I even think I sound pretty good at least compared to the people that consistently beat me at these festivals. I'm going to go with the judge's criticism and now I don't know what to do to produce a better sound. He told me my biggest two problems were that I didn't play with my chin up enough which restricted my sound and that my breathing had too much tension and my posture could use some work. He also offered me to get another lesson in a few months where he will give me some more points on producing a better tone... But until then I need to do some serious work

    I listen to GOOD trumpeters all the time through youtube and recordings and I searched this topic on the site and most people recommend listening to improve tone. I'm doing that and for me it just isn't working ( or at least as fast as I want/need it to). Other people prescribe long tones but how does that actually help me to "change" the tone. Usually I just play long tones and I guess pray that my subconscious will make my sound better but that seems retarded. Is there any specifics I can work on in addition to my normal practice schedule to improve tone so I can at least make all-state next year. I don't want to waste my great technical playing for my age just because some guy sounds slightly better than I do.

    --Thanks.

    P.S. I'm currently using the arban manual for my practice schedule but in place of the warmup I do longtones and this flow study exercise where you bend notes to center the pitch on the trumpet ( thus broadening your sound ) but I'm still not progressing to my liking, or standard for that matter.
     
  2. Chuck Cox

    Chuck Cox Forte User

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    The 3 most important areas of trumpet playing to me are :

    1. Tone
    2. Tone
    3. Tone

    You should regroup and start listening to yourself. Play and record yourself in a sanctuary or high school stage or something. You CAN develop good tone. Speedy technical etudes mean nothing without having tone first. This is just my opinion. I get paid for tone.
     
  3. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

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    Hawaian homey
    I'm going to leave the "how" up to more experienced brass teachers on the forum, but these two things jumped out to me as I was reading:

    Although there are surely very fine trumpeters sitting in the first seats in bands, if I was looking for role models for tone, my first place to look would certainly not be listening to band music, especially exclusively. IMO the finest role models percentage-wise are going to be the principal players in major symphonic orchestras and those with successful solo careers. The concession I would make, is that if you truly know of specific individuals playing in bands to listen to, have at it, but bands generically for tone? Uh, uh.

    I know this might be a lightning rod type comment, but my intent is for the OP to have a pool of excellent players as references that is not so hit-and-miss as one might find in bands, as opposed to what I suggest above.


    And secondly, garmeth, youtube? My friend, what kind of recording system was used on these band recordings you are listening to and what kind of playback system are you using? There's nothing wrong with listening to youtube recordings/videos in-and-of themselves for various musical purposes, save perhaps one - Tone! Be careful that the quality is good.

    You should be listening to very good recordings (and you do mention that, yes) on good playback equipment. Better yet, as practical as possible, you should be getting away from your computer and out of the house and going out and listening to players with excellent sound live. Best of all, playing along with them and matching their sound. While there are exercises you can do to develop your sound, I am a firm believer that the body follows the mind. And in this regard, if you can play along with players with beautiful sounds, you will begin to make subtle changes that bring your sound more into matching theirs.
     
  4. Chuck Cox

    Chuck Cox Forte User

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    Herb Alpert has great tone. Miles Davis does not have great tone. I like what kehaulani said. Find yourself a recording of a great tone trumpeter.....and try and try and try to match him/her......just get that one really nice phrase...don't obsess and get frustrated....but do go back to that sound that you are looking for often.
     
  5. garmeth

    garmeth New Friend

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    Well by band music I meant music that isn't like hip hop or top of the chart singing, not necesarilly only bands. I spend a lot of time listening to classical and jazz soloists like wynton marsalis, tine thing helseth, maurice andre, sergei nakariakov and from albums they have recorded or from concerts such as, Sergei Nakariakov.J.Haydn-Trumpet Concerto in Es-dur.2Pt.N17Y - YouTube or Tine Thing Helseth: Haydn Trumpet Concerto, 3rd mvt - YouTube.

    Yea Im a big fan of the haydn :p.

    But I agree I don't do very much live listening I should look in to local musicians and concerts.

    Hm ok, I think itd be best for me to purely focus on tone for the next few months, or year..
     
  6. Chuck Cox

    Chuck Cox Forte User

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    It won't take that long. Have faith. Listen to yourself. You can change your sound into something you like to hear. I expect that you'll hear a significant improvement in your sound in less than 2 months if you stick with it.
     
  7. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

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    This is really hard..one because I haven't heard you play and two well I haven't heard you play.
    Now don't take this as a pass to ignore the judge but there is a school of thought against something called "spreading the tone" .. which is sort of getting the horn to sizzle. The guys who are in the "don't spread the tone" camp are very conscius of the way they attack a note. Strong attacks tend to break the horn loose and sizzle it... great for lead parts in a jazz band but not so desired in traditional "classical" music.
    Playing loud can also "blat" the tone or make it sizzle as well.
    Shallow cup mouthpieces also have a tendancy to be bright unless you have to chops to keep the horn in check.
    Now this is all a guess because.. well you get the idea.
    Check your attack and try playing some etudes soft. See if you notice anything different in yur tone.
    If you can record yourself and post a link that might help as well.
     
  8. garmeth

    garmeth New Friend

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    Hmm, thanks. I probably dont have a good enough camera to ACCURALTE depict my tone but I guess I could post something lyrical or try.
     
  9. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

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    If it makes you feel any better, I'd rather be bright than dull. Keep in mind that a single word like bright may not the the best way to fully describe what he wanted.
     
  10. Chuck Cox

    Chuck Cox Forte User

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    Do this so I can get a sense of your air volume/breath support.Take a full ( but not an exagerated ) breath and play a note or an easy string of notes up or down a scale. Time how long in seconds that it is that you play without taking another breath. Play the passage mezzo forte ( mf ) to keep the volume in a consistant mid range. I want to get an idea if you are putting too little or too much air through the horn. Hopefully this will give all of us a sense of your breath support and if you should try putting more or less " air " through the horn.
     

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