Bright? Bad?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tennis_the_menace, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. tennis_the_menace

    tennis_the_menace Pianissimo User

    Jan 11, 2007
    Lansing, MI
    My teacher has never told me sound is too "bright". I have a lesson tomorrow I will ask him about this.
    I would like the people on this forum's opinion on my sound, but I am computer stupid and don't know how to record myself, I have an MP3 that I use to record myself sometimes, is there someway I can get that on the computer? Or how about I film myself and post a video? How do I do that?
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2007
  2. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
  3. bandman

    bandman Forte User

    Oct 16, 2004
    Lafayette, LA, USA
    This entire thread bothers me.

    First of all I’m a band director with 30 years of experience. Rule 1 for a band director is to always offer a solution when offering a critique. You sound like your band director always had the same problem with your sound from day 1, but never offered you advice on how to fix it. Instead you come to people who have never heard you play, and we offer up generic advice. Perhaps we might get lucky, but none of us have as good a chance to help you, as does your band director who teaches you every day.

    Rule 1 for a student is to never ask a question in a manner that might make the band director think you are questioning his teaching ability (even though silently that is what you are doing). Make certain that the questions you ask are directed at the fact that YOU don’t understand what he wants from you. This approach will allow him to think that his opinion is important, and then lead you in the right direction.

    The thing I would suggest at this time above all others is that you get lessons with a competent trumpet specialist – not your band director, but someone who can offer you new opinions and different approaches at working at your sound and technical skills. A Bach Strad is a wonderful horn, but it is even more wonderful when someone who has been taught how to play it properly plays it.

    Good luck. I wish you lived near me so I could help you until you found a permanent teacher. I love working with kids who want to be good, and it sound to me like you are just that kind of student. Keep pressing forward and I’m sure things will work out for you!
  4. trumpethack

    trumpethack Pianissimo User

    Jun 1, 2006
    I agree with Bandman this thread seems a bit bothersome...

    I think part of the issue here is the difference in vocabulary "usage" between a specialized group of people (trumpet players here) and someone who is teaching live in a large multi-instrument setting. I think in the (average) high school band world the word "bright" when used to describe a students tone (in a way that implies it needs improvement) often means that it is either thin, pinched, not supported enough, etc... As opposed to when knowledgeable trumpet players use it to describe to different GOOD sounds, ie. Maynard's sound is brighter than Phil Smith's sound. Two great sounds, one is "brighter" than the other.

    I think that here in trumpet world people have started to use the word "resonant" alot more rather than bright or dark, but I'm quite sure that that hasn't filtered down into the regular high school band teacher vocabulary, at no fault of theirs I might add.

    So a student comes here with a question and it is interpreted quite differently than it probably was meant. I'm sure that the teacher who said "your sound is too bright"' was trying to find a nice way to say "you need to play with a richer more resonant sound" or "there is too much edge in your sound you need to make it nicer..." or "your tone could be fuller"...etc...

    Or that's what they wanted to say but don't know how to articulate it any better than "it's too bright"... (which is not a best case scenerio but...)

    I need to get to work...yikes!

  5. tennis_the_menace

    tennis_the_menace Pianissimo User

    Jan 11, 2007
    Lansing, MI
    I'm sorry my last post was a little misleading, I don't take trumpet lessons from my band director, I have a private trumpet teacher that plays trumpet,.......he likes my sound....
  6. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Will your private teacher speak with your band director?

    The thought of your teacher taking away a solo just before the concert because HE doesn't like your sound really angers me.

    I guess it's all about HIM, and the performance that HIS band put on.

    If you and your tacher like your sound, I would stay with it.

  7. ConnMan36B

    ConnMan36B New Friend

    Feb 27, 2007
    The United States
    I'm sorry, but I'm a little confused. I understand the director has a preferred "sound" he or she is hearing for the solo, but what right does anyone have to criticize someone's tone as being to bright or dark. Is the musician playing in tune, pitches centered, clean articulation, clear resonate sound - these are the things that should mater more than the tone color. I personally strive for a bright "ringing" tone when I play. You're losing your solo has me furious!
  8. trpt2345

    trpt2345 Mezzo Forte User

    May 21, 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    What instrument does your band director play?

    Michael McLaughlin
  9. Lawler Bb

    Lawler Bb Piano User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Milwaukee, WI
    Some good stuff and advice here. Here's my 2 cents.

    I had a "bright" sound when I entered college. I was told by my band directors that I was "too bright", that my sound was "too much", and I needed to "tone it down" a bit. Coincidentally, I played a Bach 43 at the time. I don't think it has to do with the horn, but I sure thought it did at the time. I swtiched to a Lawler (a "dark" horn) and went from a 3C to a Monette B1-2 (because that is what some of the hotshot upperclassmen were playing and they had a "dark" sound).

    As you can see, instead of taking one aspirin, I took the whole bottle. I worked very hard for a time to get a dark, huge sound and learned to play with a wide open aperature, which arrived at a "darK" and unfocused sound. I actually played that way for close to four years. I have now spent the last 4 years trying to regain resonance and brilliance in my sound, let alone some semblance of high register and control with soft playing.

    As I look back on this, I realize I didn't have a "bright" sound per se, just a very brilliant and resonant one. That made me stick out. Ok, maybe I had more highs than lows in my sound, but it was not shrill or pinched. Then I went to a sound with almost all lows and no mids and highs, and now I've come back to the middle.

    My bottom line is do what your trumpet teacher says is right. If he/she says you sound good, go with it. If playing is going well for you, go with it. Do not let one band director tell you what you should sound like. Yes, you should be within or close to the ballpark sound wise, and it sounds like you probably are. It seems like your band director thinks you are across town from the ballpark. With a brilliant sound one can make a slight mouthpiece change and get a subtle difference if necessary. A slightly deeper cup would more than likely give you a little richer and rounder sound. Conversely, im my humble experience, it is much harder to brighten a dark sound.

    Another thing. You are in high school, correct? I don't think high school is the place to be making decisions on tone color, mouthpiece, horns, etc. Focus should be on making sure everyone is making a characteristic sound on their instrument and learning good technique, listening skills, and overall musicality. Taking a solo away from someone because of a timbral issue is just silly. A student with decent ability and good listening skills would have a good chance in doing what is necessary to blend anyway.

    Bandman is right with Rule #1. I have been on both sides of this one. It is very, very easy to put the director in a defensive position. I've done it several times, and all but one times by accident. Do not discuss this kind of thing during class. Do it one on one, preferably in his/her office. Be polite and listen to what he/she has to say, even if you don't agree. A little empathy goes a long way.

    Sorry to hear of your difficulties. Press on and keep doing what you are doing. Sounds like you are on the right track.
  10. rjzeller

    rjzeller Forte User

    Mar 7, 2005
    Rochester, MN
    Put a sock in your bell and forget about it...

    Seriously, though, I've never heard of such a thing. You should sound like you when you play, not some other arbitratry notion your director may have. If you're playing with an ensemble in the section (non-solo), then I guess I could see an argument for trying to blend and balance the sound, but for a solo, exactly why does it matter?

    If he doesn't know how to tell you what he wants, then he has no business asking for it.

    Now, if you're sticking out, that may be another issue entirely. I play with folks here in town who range from painfully bright to so lush and mellow it practically lulls you into a coma...I can play with any of them and blend just fine.

    (I wonder if folks complained that Maynard played too loud, or that Chuck Mangione has too fuzzy a sound....)

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