Back to square one!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Trumpet-Golfer, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. Trumpet-Golfer

    Trumpet-Golfer Pianissimo User

    Dec 9, 2008
    Liverpool, England
    I usually have a lesson once every two weeks. A bone of contention with my tutor regarding my playing is that I just don’t count and when I recognise a melody I play it as I interpret the piece.
    In between my last two lessons He told me to concentrate on my timing.
    So for two weeks I played some pieces religiously using my digital metronome.
    When I had my last lesson I was confident He would see an improvement. So after a warm-up I put the music on the stand along with my metronome and began to play.
    After the first piece He enquired whether I was counting in my head and I said I wasn’t as I was listening to the metronome beat. So He took the metronome off the stand and put it in my case. (I thought at first He was going to throw it through the window!)
    I tried to play the pieces again this time trying to concentrate on counting the beat and the quality of my playing was pretty dire. The outcome was that He put my beginners copy of ‘A Tune a Day’ on the stand at the beginning of the book and had me play the simple pieces at the correct time signature. I made some progress. He made an observation that when I recognise a melody I tend to interpret it my own way and stop counting subconsciously. I should therefore move on to another page and concentrate on counting.
    He stressed at the end of the lesson that although I can play my play-along books well coming in on time I don’t necessarily play the notes in the measures on the play-alongs EXACTLY as written and unless I nail down this basic tool my advancement as a trumpet player will stall.
    Although my pride was hurt I feel I must knuckle down and give this fundamental weakness in my playing 100 % effort.
    As I’m in my late 50’s and have been playing for less than four years, I would guess that 2 thirds of my time has been spent playing along to some of my favourite pieces as this gives me a buzz when I play them well (to my ear anyway). I know I’m improving gradually in terms of my tone and musicality as I record my practice sessions every 3 months. However some remedial work on this basic musical skill is the order of the day!

    Chris Brown.
  2. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    I think if you're going to play in any kind of ensemble situation it's important that you "play the ink". There a time and place for your own interpritation, and there are TONS of musicians who make their living doing their own thing, but you HAVE to be able to play what's written in most situations where you're playing with others.

    Sounds like good advice from your teacher...
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    there are plenty of amateurs with "world class sound" and really weak timing. That makes them useless for most serious playing. Once we have some kind of reasonable groove nailed down, our "artistic liberty" takes on very musical qualities. I am mid 50 and when I go for walks or ride my bike, have a melody in my head in time with what I am doing. "Listening" to the metronome makes you dependent on an external beat. You need to practice lots of scales/etudes with the metronome and music needs to get the rhythm from within. Walk around in time when practicing. Get your whole body involved!
  4. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Chris, Here in the U.S. we have a tv show, "So You Think You Can Dance" (I don't know if you see it or one like it in the U.K.). But the idea is that amateur dancers audition for a chance to win a contract for a professional dance gig (or something like that). Some of the dancers show a lot of creativity and enthusiasm in their audition but often the judges can tell that their abilities are limited to the specific dance they are doing. So, they send them to a separate area called "choreography" where they are put in a group setting and everyone has to learn the same basic dance routines and do them in unison. Most of the dancers fail at this point. They have learned to 'do their own thing' but are not capable of the full range of dance skills in a group, following a set sequence of steps. So, if you are only going to play by yourself, or play solos, maybe you can just wing it and play by ear. But, if you are going to be in a group of any kind, you will need to play the correct time with everyone else.

    I have the same situation as you. I play primarily by ear. I recently joined a symphonic band as part of my comeback effort. The music that everyone else can sight-read in correct time, I have to take home and work on for hours, counting and re-counting to make sure I am coming in correctly - especially the syncopated parts. But, when I have it and can play it along with everyone else in the performance, it is a great satisfaction to me - and it makes the band sound better, too.

    Good luck.

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