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.