Beware of playing lead in a big band!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Bloomin Untidy Musician, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. Bloomin Untidy Musician

    Bloomin Untidy Musician Piano User

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    Jan 14, 2008
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    A discipline of trumpet playing which i always hear horror stories about is playing big band lead trumpet. If it is not stories about players collapsing on stage, it is about a good trumpet player who mashes his (or her we cannot be sexist) chops up to the point of complete embouchure submission over years of metal grinding. In my experience some of the worst victims of lead trumpet playing are classical musicians who "have a go" without the necessary preparation.
    My questions to TM is what are the potential pitfalls of switching suddenly to big band?

    What preparation is necessary for a "Classically trained" trumpet player to change to a lead big band player?

    Has anyone got any funny or serious/philosophical stories about lead playing?
     
  2. Pete

    Pete Piano User

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    Yeah. Try not to play as loud as the saxophone section. This is many times a problem. Competing with horns which have the players chops attached to the horn is a no win situation.

    Pete
     
  3. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

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    There is no inherent danger in playing the lead trumpet chair. However, it does require certain skills and discipline to do successfully. Most good lead players tend to specialize in these skills -- good 'lead' chops (that means being able to play the lead parts which can get pretty high with power and grace), the ability to lead the section (set the direction for the section in terms of style, phrasing, etc.). Lead trumpet players typically also set the tone for the whole band and, along with the drummer and lead alto player, are considered key players in the band. Many of the big bands paid the lead trumpet player more than anyone else in the band for this skill.

    bigtiny
     
  4. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

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    Wait... in a big band the Lead Trumpet is supposed to be the one in charge. The Lead trumpet sets articulation style, dynamics, and sometimes rythms if theres a discrepency between sections. Lead players are highly regarded not because they can play higher than the rest, but because they have there shit down. If you asked them to play a part, I bet you 99.9% That they would play it perfectly, without a doubt in there mind.
     
  5. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

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    I played lead trumpet in a big band regularly for about 10 or 12 years. Prior to that, I had played with the local symphony for about 5 years. I had a very nice sound that many people complemented me on, and frequently played solos in church and with a local concert band. That lead trumpet gig ruined my lip. Maybe I didn't know how to play smart, but I ended up beating my mouth up on long gigs, which gradually gave me the usual tone and inflexibility associated with high-note jocks. I've been out of the big band scene for eight or so years now (still sub once or twice a year, though), and am just now getting my sound and flexibility back to where I want it. Big band was a kick, though...;-)
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    The major problem that a classically oriented player has when playing lead is sound concept.
    The big, fat, dark cloud required for a symphony orchestra needs to be replaced by a high powered assault rifle. I don't think the mortality rate among real lead players is necessarily higher than other types of professionals, but amateurs with no concept are not doing themselves any favors.

    Lead playing is a specialty that needs much more than high notes. You need timing like a drummer, groove like the bass player, leadership qualities like a general and the willingness to give far more of yourself then you could ever get paid for. If you are up to the challenge, get LESSONS from somebody that knows better. Deficits are pretty audible...................
     
  7. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

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    I wont fail you Rowuk :D
     
  8. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    Feb 20, 2008
    Patrick, sometimes your posts just make me smile. :D I really appreciate your enthusiasm.
     
  9. Bear

    Bear Forte User

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    The thought that Lead playing ruins yours lips is hogwash. It's not the playing that ruins your lips, it's the musicians who don't know what they are doing. Lead playing is an athletic event also done properly it can be graceful and relaxing. One must take care of their fundmentals and warm up/down and approach teh situation properly.

    I play two to three hour gigs on the lead book of a local big band. I then turn around and am involved in the schools orchestra, wind ensemble, and various chamber groups.

    It's just a matter of taking care of bussiness. It won't ruin your lips if done properly.

    Grrr... sorry for being upset.
     
  10. Bear

    Bear Forte User

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    Apr 30, 2004
    USA
    The thought that Lead playing ruins yours lips is hogwash. It's not the playing that ruins your lips, it's the musicians who don't know what they are doing. Lead playing is an athletic event also done properly it can be graceful and relaxing. One must take care of their fundmentals and warm up/down and approach teh situation properly.

    I play two to three hour gigs on the lead book of a local big band. I then turn around and am involved in the schools orchestra, wind ensemble, and various chamber groups.

    It's just a matter of taking care of bussiness. It won't ruin your lips if done properly.

    Grrr... sorry for being upset.
     

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