Battling Trumpet in A Parts

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Derek Reaban, Mar 21, 2006.

How much time do you spend working on your most challenging transposition?

  1. Never

  2. Maybe a minute or two each month

  3. Whenever it comes across my stand (ensemble music)

    0 vote(s)
  4. At least once a week

    0 vote(s)
  5. Several times a week (10 minutes or more per session)

    0 vote(s)
  1. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    I have a stigma about Trumpet in A parts. Years ago when I opened my symphony folder on a first rehearsal and found the second trumpet parts to Stars and Stripes and Washington Post for Trumpet in A I completely crashed and burned. Up until that point I had never seen an A part, and shortly after that experience, I began working on Scheherazade (also for Trumpet in A) in my trumpet lessons. My brain hurt!

    I can read A parts with sufficient practice time these days, but if I have to sight read a new part in A, I get that same kind of panic that I experienced with Stars and Stripes years ago, and I just freeze up.

    I know that the best way to overcome technical problems like these is to jump in with both feet and get busy, but honestly, when my practice day begins at 10 PM, it will be 11:30 PM before I’m ready to tackle the trumpet in A parts. I’m not always mentally ready for that challenge at that time of night.

    Allen Vizzutti mentioned in his recent class here in Arizona that when he was touring with Chick Corea he would attend clinics that Corea would present. Many times questions would come from the audience about the best way to get start improvising, or transcribing, etc. Chick Corea would always say, “If you want to learn how to improvise, then start improvising!â€

    I mentioned my dilemma about Trumpet in A to my instructor last week, and he totally understood my situation. I showed him a book that I had purchased authored by William Vacchiano which expands on the Saches book. At best, this is material that I can work up in the printed key, but really stretches me even in my best transpositions (Bb, D, E, F). Trumpet in A is just out of the question with this material (even when I’m mentally ready for the challenge – and that’s maybe 5-10 percent of the time at 11:30 PM).

    He told me to forget the Vacchiano book and think much smaller for now. The point is to just do it, and when I would stare at the Vacchiano book I would very rarely open it, and if I did, I would play a bar or two and give up in frustration.

    What he suggested really has made a difference to me in getting some time in every day on Trumpet in A. He told me to pick a couple of the tonguing exercises in Arbans (starting with number 19) and play them on my C trumpet for trumpet in C, Bb, and A. I read them as printed, then in my best transposition (Bb), and then in my worst transposition (A). I play them slowly for trumpet in A, because my ear begins to take over and just plays the right notes. I need to watch the notes and observe what’s happening. It’s almost like I’m on autopilot, but it’s also exposing me to this technique in a way that is non-threatening.

    I’ve read several of these for Trumpet in A since my lesson. Half of the battle for me is simply opening the book and reading more than a bar or two. This is something that I can see working very well for me.

    If you’re out of school with all of the challenges of life (like me), small steps like these are so necessary to find improvement in areas that have always been problematic. I hope this encourages someone to take smaller steps and get a little closer to a previously impossible goal!
  2. bandman

    bandman Forte User

    Oct 16, 2004
    Lafayette, LA, USA
    I'm a band director and transpose reading my students parts all the time. When little Joey comes in and wants you to play his sax part with him you better be able to read off his part. There is no time to write things out. Granted there are no parts in A, but once you get accustomed to reading parts and transposing by sight it pretty much becomes automatic.

    Sometimes I play my C, and sometimes I use my Bb, it just depends on the piece and the key, and how it falls under my fingers.

    My trumpet teacher in college made me transpose by sight in ever lesson. He's say "up a step", and then "down a minor third", and what ever he called I had to do. Eventually it becomes second nature!

    Question – when you play jazz does your band have the ability to play in pretty much any key? If a guest vocalist comes up and says, “I want _______ in the key of ____†can you do it? We do this often so it was really a requirement of playing gigs with the band with which I play the most jobs.

    A tip with which I’m sure you are familiar – play scales and chromatic fingering exercises “until your fingers fall offâ€. Being totally comfortable in every key signature is the most important thing in transposition.
  3. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    For some reason this just isn’t the case with me. I can read great in Bb and F from my C trumpet (they are literally on autopilot). D and E are also very good, but I wouldn’t want to read an unfamiliar Charlier etude for trumpet in D in front of a room full of people.

    Trumpet in A (from my C trumpet) just presents itself in a way that my brain has trouble moving from “understanding†to “autopilotâ€. That’s why I need to address it more regularly in daily practice (not just when a part ends up on my stand for an ensemble)!

    I’m the same way that you are. If I see trumpet in E, I’ll play it on my C. Trumpet in F is also on my C. Trumpet in Eb I may do on my C, but I’d rather do it on the Bb. If I ever came across Trumpet in Ab, I’m sure I’d do that one on my Bb. F alta is on the C, etc. Best tool for the job.

    I think the important point of my post is that we all must find ways to target the weaknesses in our playing. Doing a little bit is better than doing nothing, and unfortunately, I was in the “nothing†department when it came to practicing my Trumpet in A transposition.
  4. Clarino

    Clarino Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 9, 2003
    Sheffield, England, UK
    Derek, When trumpet in A comes up, I'm always playing my Bb anyway. I don't own a C trumpet so it's never been an issue.

    I have to say that transposition is more or less the same no matter what key trumpet I'm playing for. Except trumpet in E. That's a major PITA. When using the Bb trumpet, trumpet in A is only a semitone down, so its actually quite easy. I couldn't imagine trying to transpose trumpet in G alta on the Bb! So trumpet in A on the C trumpet would be quite difficult I'd imagine. My advice? Use the Bb! I would imagine you own one, so why not use it?

    I realise this may not be the greatest help you could get, but I personally don't believe in making it hard fore yourself. If C trumpet is easiest, great! But if Bb makes the transposition that much easier, use the Bb. It's daft to make life hard for yourself.
  5. slixk

    slixk New Friend

    Jan 13, 2006
    Hmmm. My problem is not with A. It's with E. I can't seem to get Trumpet in E transposition right. All other keys seem fine! Only E... Strange.
  6. camelbrass

    camelbrass Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Dubai, UAE

    Read the last page of 'Why trumpet in C?' topic in the Manny 911 forum.



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