Can a Person Effectively Teach Themselves?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, May 29, 2015.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I figured I'd drop something a bit different into the mix of threads mostly related to ebay finds of vintage horns, and ask a question: Is it possible for someone, with today's tools and technology, to effectively teach themselves to play trumpet?

    Often times the very first suggestion thrown out when someone posts a question regarding technique, chops, etc, is "get a teacher," or "ask your teacher," or some other similar sentiment. This has caused me to ponder whether or not one can effectively teach themselves in large part to be an effective trumpet player, and especially in light of the tools that we have thanks to technology.

    I'm a DIY kind of guy, and I teach myself how to do a lot of things. I wanted to lay a laminate floor in my foyer and kitchen. I didn't take lessons on how to lay a laminate floor - I did some reading and research online, and then just did it. Did I make some mistakes? Yeah - looking back, there were some things I did early in the project that I could have done better, and I was doing better by the end of the project because I observed what needed to be done differently or better, and then I made the corrections on my own - I didn't need a teacher to tell me what was already plainly apparent.

    If I'm missing the boat completely on this, please feel free to chime in, but for the most part the role of a teacher for a trumpet student is to observe, listen, correct, and prescribe practice that will refine and improve the player based on the knowledge they have garnered in their own years as a player, and often repeating lessons of the teachers they had.

    All things considered, things like scales, keys, note values, music markings, etc, are all academic - they can be learned via Google on the internet, but could a player not make good use of audio and video recording via computer technology to objectively observe themselves to refine and correct deficiencies in their own playing?

  2. gunshowtickets

    gunshowtickets Forte User

    Mar 11, 2015
    Tidewater, VA
    I tought myself with an Ed Sueta Band Method book.

    Did i listen to other, more advanced players' advice? You betcha, especially when i got orthodontic appliances. Those things don't like letting you push little, round pieces of metal onto your lips.
    Did I ever have an official lesson with a trumpet player? Once, but over four years into my trumpet-playing career and nine years into my musical career.

    The backstory: I had taken piano lessons for a year until my parents put me in private school. I wanted to play trumpet, but my mom wanted me to play that evil, wooden thing called a clarinet. Compromised on alto sax, which i got pretty good at. I did lust after those trumpets in the back row for four years, though. At the end of junior high, the high school's band was losing most their trumpet line to graduation, the director was traveling to the three feeder schools to see who would want to switch. I jumped at the chance and made the cut since I'd played horn for three months at the beginning of 8th grade. My mom rented me a trumpet and I drove my parents insane practicing scales and mashing my lips to jello every day for the entire summer, including on a road trip down the East Coast through the Keys.
  3. vern

    vern Piano User

    Mar 4, 2008
    We must be our own best teacher, especially as we become more advanced, IMO. That said, the hardest thing to do is to be HONEST with ourselves as consciously or unconsciously we tend to hear what we want coming out of the horn: that's where a good teacher comes in for the advancing player. As an immature beginner, I greatly benefited from someone showing me what to practice, how to practice and (perhaps most importantly) WHAT A TRUMPET SHOULD SOUND LIKE. Good Luck.
    Vulgano Brother likes this.
  4. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    I was at the ITG last evening and was there for the award given to Bobby Shew. He said he was 100% self taught so that when he was actually asked to teach his first lesson 47 years ago, he felt some apprehension as how could he teach if he himself had never been taught. He said he learned from listening to others' recordings.

    Till Bronner then paid a tribute to Bobby and said he received his first lessons from Bobby when he was 15, and Bobby sent him 80 albums to keep and learn as part of his lesson plan.
  5. anthony

    anthony Mezzo Piano User

    Mar 3, 2009
    Oh ho Watch it ! when Rouwk see this he is goink to have zee fit. You will take zee trupert lezzons ya? .......Just kidding Rouwk, Anthony
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    Personally, I think there is nothing wrong about being your only teacher. But I believe along that course, you should take time to let another teacher into your life for at least a brief encounter. I am so looking forward to Till Bronner's Workshop tomorrow. A brief encounter, but one I truly enjoy as being taught be another person from another part of the world.
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Goot points everyone. I've said more than once here on the board that I'm self-taught, but what that means is that I'm self-taught only in that I have had very few private lessons. I've had some one-off lessons over the years with some folks, but I learned by doing, by being objective about what I was actually playing, using recordings, and taking tips from the folks I've worked with over the years. There's a lot of great stuff a person can learn just by paying attention to what other good players are doing or telling you.

    When I started drumming back in 2003, I really thought I was kicking some bootie for a while. Then I started playing at a church that recorded every service for their CD ministry. While I wasn't terrible, I found that I certainly wasn't as good as I thought I was. However, I really used those recordings. I'd parse the worship tunes out of the service, put them on my iPod, and then pick them apart to really figure out not only what I needed to fix and work on, but also what I was doing well so that I could reinforce the good while eradicating the bad. (And there was some stuff that was cringingly bad)

    Becoming aware of what was actually going on was half the battle. Once I was aware of what I was actually playing, rather than what I thought I was doing (and there was a disconnect there, initially) I made a lot of strides as a drummer.

    Likewise, my home recording setup has been a great tool for improvement as well because the recording doesn't lie, and when recording a project, it serves to hone your playing and bring it up a level or two.

    But, like vern said, you really have to be honest with yourself and be willing to listen objectively for what you need to work on so that you can prescribe corrective work to yourself in the practice room.

    Keep 'em coming!
  8. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    I think that the challenge of self-teaching these days is how to discriminate the huge amount of information one gets. It's all out there. The internet is crazy with information. Only problem is that self-taught people may not be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and that's where an experienced, successful mentor/teacher can help.

    Also it has to be acknowledged that some people are more perceptive, analytical, etc. than others, so, while advising one person to go ahead and teach him/herself, there are others who just don't have the internal tools to do so.

    So, to answer the question . . . yes and no.
  9. BrassBandMajor

    BrassBandMajor Fortissimo User

    Jan 13, 2015
    I taught myself how to give a bath to a trumpet and polishing them :D
  10. tjcombo

    tjcombo Forte User

    Nov 12, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    That's highlighted the problems with self-teaching trumpet. Without advice and feedback, especially at the early stages, you're taking pot luck on technique. In particular, it can be easier to get results early on by mashing the mpc into your chops, but poor technique at the start will limit advancement later on (if the student doesn't give up through sheer frustration).

    My guess is that, for every successful self-taught trumpet player, there'd be hundreds that gave up.
    Last edited: May 29, 2015

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