Can a Person Effectively Teach Themselves?

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

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Ed, you've eloquently conveyed what I believe this thread is about. Thanks!
  2. nieuwguyski

    nieuwguyski Forte User

    Aug 9, 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA
    To return to the original question, I have two questions:

    1. What level of achievement defines "effective?" At what point is the result "effective?" Do you have to win an audition? Do you have to make money?

    2. At what point does a player get labeled as having had "instruction?" For a very long time I've considered Bix Beiderbecke the poster child for "self taught," as I've been led to believe he had a piano, a cornet, a Victrola, and a stack of recordings.

    I clearly remember my first band director. He obviously knew the basics of every band instrument and instructed the woodwinds on correct fingerings, even though his primary instrument was trombone. I've always considered my elementary-school band as "instructed," even though the vast majority of us didn't receive private lessons.

    I guess I'm done and have made a fool of myself. I can't think of a single individual in that band program who became a professional musician. Apparently our instruction wasn't "effective."

    Finally, this isn't intended as a shot at trickg. I think one can effectively teach oneself, as long as group instruction is left out of the equation, as well as individual genius.
  3. catello

    catello Pianissimo User

    Dec 14, 2009
    Winter Park, FL
    Once you know how to learn, you can learn.

    Once you know what to learn, you can progress.

    Once you realize that the basics are named such for a reason, you do scales and tonging exercises, even though you hate it.

    An early instructor can point the way to these, but if you have the capacity to learn music, and especially background in another instrument or musical notation, then I think that much of the development can, and is, done without an instructor. A teacher, or other professionals, are great for making suggestions and adjustments along the way. But as with many things, there are always exceptions to the rule. Find what works. Make it second nature. And then make adjustments for improvements.
  4. ♠♥CORNET♣♦

    ♠♥CORNET♣♦ Pianissimo User

    Oct 18, 2014
    New Jersey
    That is a great question!

    I actully taught myself how to play the piano! I am no master at it but I could sight read most songs (If they were not extremely hard). If a trumpet player does a lot of research and reading he/she could defiantly do it.

  5. tjcombo

    tjcombo Forte User

    Nov 12, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. (no claims to originality on this pearl of wisdom).

    Nieuguyski has nailed the nub of the question asking 'what is effective'.

    Three or four years into a comeback, I've seen constant progress - a mixture of reading, YouTube vids, lots of great advice from this forum, tutors at a part-time college course and about six months of one-on-one trumpet lessons. Time spent working with my college tutors and trumpet teacher were way more effective than when I was the foolish client of my own tutelage.

    Exhibit B... I play guitar a bit - self taught. Nothing marvelous, but able to fill in if a group is playing a piece where a horn part doesn't fit. A couple of years back I took lessons and made progress way quicker than at any other time. The guitar lessons helped my trumpet playing too by forcing me to better understand and internalise a lot of theory and practice around scales, modes, song structure and analysing tunes.

    I take my hat off to the focused, talented individuals that effectively teach themselves - and wonder how much better they'd have been with the right help at the right time.
  6. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    I'm serious when I say that in 2006, just prior to my comeback as began from a wheelchair after a 40 plus years lapse, that my natural death would have been welcome. I cannot extend my thanks enough to a friend who gave me an old Conn Director cornet in good playable condition and a small collection of music, and such is not because I could not have bought such on my own. I then just didn't have the incentive, but now realizing "incentive" occurs often with as much simplicity as clicking the switch to turn on the lights.

    It is just a memory now, but initially I do feel I was exceptionally well trained to play brass by my public school instructor/tutor/high school band director and supported in doing so by my Mother, Father and older Brothers. It certainly didn't hurt that I was also then active in choral participation in school and church.

    I did not play the 4 years I was in USAF, and it was a financial pinch to rent a trumpet to pursue such in college ... but based on references given by my high school director, I did not have to audition for the college band. I just don't believe my college instruction advanced my trumpet playing any, although I won't fault the college band direction. Rehearsals for concert performances were rigorous and exhausting, taking a toll on my other subjects ... my body was present in these others, but my mind wasn't always.

    Then, my work often made it impractical to pursue my instrumental music until the time came when I was doing nothing but sitting in that wheelchair and wasting away. Music then came along and I've undergone many surgeries and put my wheelchair in the storage shed.

    You all know the rest of my music story.
  7. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    I'm not sure exactly what others feel is being asked here. My take is that one can learn to produce and modulate sound with the instrument, up to a certain level, which will vary a lot between individuals. Merri Franquin basically taught himself and became good enough to gig at the highest level then went on to teach at the Paris conservatory and wrote a method regarded as one of the best by Maurice Andre. There is no doubt that he was exceptionally gifted; vanishingly few others would be capable of the same. There is also no doubt that he received instruction on the way regarding how to play music. One can have 3 octaves of range, an immense dynamic variation, be able to hold notes for ever, tremendous flexibility, the fastest double tonguing in the West and all the technical qualities and still be unable to play music.

    Music is about shaping notes and phrases; slurs that put emphasis where it needs to be, suggesting bow strokes, or voice nuances, articulating, or altering rhythm according to rules of interpretation applicable to the piece considering when it was written and what its purpose was. And countless other subtleties that go far beyond sound production. Of course, it may be possible to learn it from books and recordings, but how many of us out there who had a great music teacher do not recall fondly on the experience of being coached to discover the true depth of the art? I like the idea of teachers transferring that kind of knowledge. It's part of what makes us Human.

    Also I want to take exception to this: "Just think IF DIZZY GILLESPIE DID IT ANYONE CAN." First I'm not sure that Dizzy really learned all on his own, and perhaps Louis Armstrong would be a better example. Second, I think nothing could be further from the truth. Otherwise, there would crowds of people playing as good as Dizzy at every street corner. There aren't. I dislike the idea of suggesting that what an obviously exceptional individual accomplished can be accomplished by anyone. It can't, that's what makes it exceptional. It's like saying "if Carl Lewis won that many medals, anybody can." Obviously untrue.
  8. Bill Dishman

    Bill Dishman Piano User

    Nov 22, 2003
    Gainesville, Florida
    Read Herbert L. Clarke's "How I Became a Cornetist" and you will find out how he did it.

    I re-read this document every year for motivation and self-evaluation.

    Bill Dishman
    Gainesville, Florida
  9. anthony

    anthony Mezzo Piano User

    Mar 3, 2009
    Dizzy was self taught is that a fact?
  10. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

    Nov 16, 2009
    Near Portland, OR.
    The wiki entry on Dizzy claims that he had taught himself to play trumpet and trombone by age 12. However he did study at the Laurinbug Academy for 2 years, and got his first professional gig at age 18. I read somewhere else that he did get his first job in large part due to his ability to fluently read scores.

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