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Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, May 29, 2015.
This is IMO the best possible answer to the OP's question.
Rowuk doesn't get excited about threads like this because we need to ask questions first before we do anything.
My reservations about DIY are well documented - but they are MY reservations.
The problem as I see it is not acquisition of knowledge, rather the lack of connection between individual skills. Articulation IS connected to breathing and body use is connected to range. Everything is connected and most students that I get that have more or less fumbled there way to reasonable playing quality, have major hurdles to conquer. Fortunately, there are enough possibilities for this type of player to perform, wind bands, praise groups and the like come to mind.
I think that it requires exceptional talent and luck to get really good without a teacher.
I just feel that a good teacher can save me valuable time in getting my journey underway, and guide me through the woods. Where I am having troubles, the issues get sorted quickly with the right help.
I cannot imagine NOT having someone to bounce my ideas off, and have some real life contact with someone who knows what is going on. Sometimes we both learn from a lesson, but I am sure my time is better spent with a teacher, than just nutting an issue into frustration.
As Rowuk says: "I think that it requires exceptional talent and luck to get really good without a teacher. "
I am not overly talented so consider my luck is in finding the right teacher to save my time - I have been lucky to find good people to help me.
My Life-timer has less in the top half now, so I need to make sure what time is left is well spent on the things I love to do. AND do these things to the best of my ability - Yes , I still use a teacher regularly. Maybe I could have done the journey without one, but I would be a long way back on the path, still practicing wrong things well.
So what are the gaps in your skills? Did you really actually need a tutor to point out what you weren't doing well or to prescribe corrective practice to address it? Were you really not able to listen to yourself, or observe yourself and come to conclusions about what you needed to work on?
A teacher can never do the work for the student - all they can do is to help guide a student and to help them avoid certain pitfalls that might otherwise hinder their playing. Looking at those pitfalls, there once was a time when a teacher was the only resource available to help us figure out what those pitfalls were. That's just not the case anymore. The internet has articles on every aspect of trumpet playing - everything from the technical aspects to tips for musicianship. There are also videos covering all manner of things that get covered in videos. It's all right there for anyone willing to dig and put in the work, and improving on the horn is in large part simply putting in the time - lots and lots of time spent in focused practice.
Again, I knew a lot of players who had every advantage - lessons from day 1, degrees in music performance in college, and yet they weren't playing at my level, either technically or musically. Is it possible that I'm an exception? Maybe, but I think that it really just boils down to me figuring out what I needed to do on my own, and then putting in the work in the practice room to refine my own playing.
KT brings up a good point about people who avoid certain aspects of their playing. There were things that I didn't work on as much because I simply didn't like to. In all my years playing, it was only a few years back that I decided to get to a point where I could fluently play all of my scales - major, and natural minor. Prior to that, I had gaps - certain major scales were more challenging so I just didn't work on them. Keys like B and Gb/F#. That didn't even begin to touch on my minor scales. With that said, I KNEW that I had that gap, so once I made the decision to fill it in, then all I had to do was get the resources and self-discipline to work on them.
Rapier, I don't know if this is you or not, but I also know a lot of musicians who make every excuse in the book for why they can't do x, y or z, when the truth is, they have simply never had the self-discipline to work on it. That hits me squarely when it comes to my inability to read changes and solo, and my inability to play swing on the drums. The only real excuse I can offer is that I've simply never tried very hard, and that's not much of an excuse at all.
Trickg. As a learner from scratch you don't know what you don't know. Now I've been playing a long time I DO know what my weaknesses are and can and do work on them to improve, but a learner could not.
You may have an aversion to being taught correctly from day one, but most people would be better for it.
Unlike you though, I can play swing or anything else on the drums.
I "can" play swing - I'm just not great at it. I'm pretty damned good at the rest of it, and the reason I am is because I've worked hard on it. I'm not a flashy player though - I've just got rock solid time, a good groove, and I'd like to think I structure drum parts that are appropriate.
I think that if I was thrown into a situation where I had to kick a big band, I'd be up to speed on it pretty quickly. It's mostly in setting up hits and kicks where I'd need to do some work for timing and coordination - it's a different mindset than setting up fills, hits and kicks in a rock-ish setting. But for songs like "Jump, Jive and Wail" or other swing shuffle kinds of tunes like "Mr. Lee," "Jim Dandy," "Little Bitty Pretty One," etc, I'm just fine - I refer to those as basic swing shuffles, but they are more Rock and Roll oriented.
Getting back to the subject of being self-taught on the trumpet, maybe I'm overstating the "self-taught" thing. I had generalized instruction from a band director in my formative years, so I wasn't completely in the wind, but I never had a private tutor. With that said, by the time I got to a point where I was pushing myself beyond what was required of me for the high school band, when I started doing solo and ensemble competitions, and when I started branching out into performing in local churches regularly, the extra work was all on my own, spending hours and hours going through certain pages in the Arban's, and working other basic aspects of technique such as long tones, articulation work, and working flexibilities. Basic musicianship I didn't really work that much - I was pretty intuitive as a player during that time and didn't need a lot of help in that regard.
During my time at the Armed Forces School of Music, while I will say that my instructor didn't offer me much in the way of help with technique, (his contention was that technique would clean up by itself with hard work over time) he did open my eyes to some phrasing things, that I have continued to use. It's kind of weird - I was there in classes for 6 months, and during that time I was supposed to have a lesson each week, but half the time he canceled for one reason or other, and I can only specifically remember a small handful of them.
I don't feel that I can teach myself because attempting to do so would give way to me quitting trumpet for good.
I wish trumpet playing was as easy as it is in medicine. In medicine we have the saying, see one, do one, teach one. Remember that the next time you are having brain surgery.
That's a valid point - some people don't have the fortitude to do it by themselves - either they lack the self-motivation, self-discipline, or become paralyzed with fear that they either don't know how to start, or have a fear that the steps they'll take on their own will be incorrect. Actually, I've venture to say that a good 70-80% of society can't really function without getting some kind of direction from somewhere, which is why we live in a society with a lot of followers, and relatively few leaders, but that's a generalization that doesn't have anything to do with playing an instrument.
Regarding the brain surgery thing, I'd venture to guess that there is a whole lotta training and steps taken with simpler procedures (is there such thing as a "simple procedure" when it comes to brain surgery?) before a surgeon tackles major, complex surgery, and I'd also submit that brain surgeons are the all-stars of the surgery world, kind of like principle trumpet players in major symphony orchestras.
Though I'm sure many have thought about it, I don't foresee brain transplants any time soon. If ever, I'm positive I won't be around to know of it.