Bobby Shew was self-taught, according to my teacher.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by turtlejimmy, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

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    Wow.

    In my last private lesson we had a little free time for idle philosophical talk and I mentioned that I was very glad to have a teacher, because over the years, during jam sessions and whatnot, I've noticed that the two most awful sounding "self-taught" kinds of musicians are violinists and trumpet players. People who play violin as a 2nd or 3rd instrument behind their main one (usually guitar or mandolin) and were self-taught CAN BE PAINFUL TO LISTEN TO. Horrible technique coupled with lousy or nonexistent intonation. IMHO you need a teacher to learn the violin.

    Same with the trumpet. I've paid to see bands (not jazz bands, mind you) with trumpet players who couldn't hit their notes to save their lives (usually FLAT). The last time it happened I asked the sound technician at the concert how he got away with that. The answer was something like, "Most people here are too drunk to notice .... including the band." No, it wasn't a very good concert but it was fun. :roll:

    So, hearing that Bobby Shew was self-taught is IMPRESSIVE. Proves that it can be done ........ But don't try this at home. It's rare that anyone gets to the highest levels without a teacher (or teachers).

    Turtle
     
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I do not think that this is true. It depends more what you call lessons. Check his official resume out:

    Official Web Site of Bobby Shew

    He played with bands that demanded the highest standards of technical and READING perfection. There is a bio on the internet that claims mostly "self taught" whatever that means. The bio on his site says: "Bobby Shew began playing the guitar at the age of eight and switched to the trumpet at ten. By the time he was thirteen he was playing at local dances with a number of bands and by fifteen had put together his own group to play at dances, occasional concerts and in jazz coffee houses. He spent most of his high school days playing as many as six nights a week in a dinner club". This is not pure DIY material. It is very possible that he learned his JAZZ primarily on his own, every player has to invest the time to learn the changes. I would be VERY careful about branding him DIY. Not a safe bet.
     
  3. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

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    Thanks Robin. It sounded just a bit too b&w ... The trumpet is a very hard instrument IMO to play. As can be read about in here, it's also a difficult instrument to come back to. In some ways it's even harder than the violin, because a lot of the real action is hidden ..... What happens in the embouchure. You can't really SEE the details of what others are doing or see what you are doing. I don't want to pass on or start innaccuracies .... (sp?). Interesting stuff. Bobby is fun and inspiring to listen to.

    Turtle
     
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    TJ,
    there is a VERY strong wish by many here to keep the DIY miracle alive. Actually, most everything that we learn in life is not DIY, rather by emulation: walking, talking, writing and ultimately trumpet. The emulation works best when we are close to people worth emulating and worst when we are depending on CDs. Even certified professional DIYers like many jazz players may not have had good formal TRUMPET training, but the fact that they were around playing monsters, they got a different type of lesson - approaching music from the melody instead of technical side.
     
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    I have often said that I'm "primarily self-taught" because in my formative years - 5th grade through 12th grade in school - I never really had a private teacher, even though 3 of the 5 band directors I had during that time were trumpet players.

    I did take private lessons during the 6 months I spent at the Armed Forces School of Music, but half the time my teacher canceled on me, and I'm not sure what I really got out of it anyway - I never considered him to be a very good instructor, although to be fair, I might not have been that great of student either.

    However, when I stop to think about some of the people I have played with and with whom I've "talked shop" with over the years, that whole DIY, self-taught thing doesn't really hold up so well. I've played alongside of people who had masters degrees in performance, one who graduated from Eastman, and one who graduated from Julliard. I've played alongside of others who were in signed, top-40 bands, and dozens who are either current or former musicians in the premier military bands around Washington DC.

    So, can a person gig with people like that and not soak in some of what they hear by example, or can they talk shop with those folks without incorporating some of those higher-level concepts into their own playing? While it might not be the same thing as taking private lessons from a really fine trumpet teacher, it certainly has some value and merit, and in some ways, it's probably better than working with a teacher who might not be that great.

    So, was Bobby Shew "self-taught?" I guess it depends on how you look at it. He might have had some natural chops and ability, but no doubt he was picking the brains of the musicians he worked with and incorporating what he was learning on the gig into his own musicianship.
     
  6. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

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    I've read interviews (can't remembver where) with Shew where he states pretty clearly that he's basically self taught. I don't have a link, but I remember reading it in more than once place...

    bigtiny
     
  7. bigtiny

    bigtiny Mezzo Forte User

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    robin,

    You're spot on here. I never had trumpet teachers growing up (I'm basically self taught), but I had band directors (many of whom happened to be trumpet players) who answered questions, let me know when I was out of tune or whatever, jazz pros who offered advice on what was wrong with my playing, and more importantly what to practice to fix it, etc.

    I don't recommend being self taught if you can avoid it. I was poor growing up and my father was not only NOT sympathetic to my musical pursuits, he was downright hostile towards them, so there was no chance of my getting private studies. When I think of some of the playing problems I wouldn't have now and some of the experiences I missed...well, I just think things would have been more expedient with a good teacher.

    Having said that, I think that the one thing that a DIY approach DOES do is it teaches one to teach oneself. This involves a lot of critical thinking about your playing, how to 'fix' problems, and instills a discipline that one might gain otherwise.

    bigtiny
     
  8. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Ultimately everyone who plays an instrument, no matter what method they are taught - be it through private instruction, or by picking things apart on their own - they have to do the work on their own.

    I had my son in guitar lessons for several years until some things came up with his teacher (first his teacher moved, and then his teacher's wife died suddenly 10 days post childbirth) where he is no longer taking formal lessons. He's still working and improving as a player because he has a foundation, and he works hard at it on his own.
     
  9. nordlandstrompet

    nordlandstrompet Forte User

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  10. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

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    Bobby may not have had formal education as a youngster but he studied the science of breathing for years. Like a jazz Arnold Jacobs. His principles are sound. The master class I did with him years ago was wonderful, he knows what he's talking about. He is not an intuitive player, he has thought about the trumpet a lot.
     

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