Confessions of a 3rd trumpet; a cautionary tale.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by BrotherBACH, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    I have just had my 50[SUP]th[/SUP] birthday and it isbasically (I think) the second anniversary of my comeback.

    The first year was spent learning music fundamentals through the Rubank Elementary System (loved it). But as I progressed in range and endurance, I had questions my teacher could not answer because she was a double reedsperson. She was/is a great teacher. I eventually found a trumpet teacher with excellent credentials. I have spent the past year focused on the physical aspects of playing using Clarke, Schlossberg, and some home grown approaches with Don Johnson, Rainer Schmidt. Range and endurance shot through the roof (relativeto the previous year). However, I got caught (my own fault) in mental trap ofplaying the exercises as an end unto themselves. I totally neglected music fundamentals. While it was great to have such progress inthe physical aspects of playing, all the tone, range, endurance, and articulation means nothing without something to say musically (quote from JohnThomas DVD).

    Why do I say all this? It is because I lost a golden opportunity. I have access to music rooms where I work, and the conductor of the university concert band watched my dedication over the past year and asked if I would come out on third trumpet. When the baton came down I was paralyzed. My rhythm, counting, timing and sight reading skills are still at an elementary level. At difficult passages, I would slow down, get behind, and then get completely lost. I am lost most of the time except for the easiest of passages. So, I am “bowing-out”out of respect to the conductor and the rest of the ensemble who are at aconsiderably higher level than I am (i.e., university versus elementary). The conductor is a wonderful, kind, and patient man who has encouraged me to play for the first time in from of others. I owe him a great debit of gratitude. But, there is a moment of truth that I haveto face out of respect to the larger group.

    Where am I now? Asa former body builder the next step is very clear. Maintain the strengths while attacking the weakness with a vengeance. So, I have joined a local community band. It attacks my weakness directly. Once aweek we get together for two hours and “sight read” the repertoire. There are over 90 pieces that we will have to practice over the year, to give weekly concerts during the summer. So, I will get “on the job” training wherein the cost of a scuffed note or getting lost is not as great as at a single “highbrow”event. My second practice session is now for pure music fundamentals. I have two books from the Colin’s catalog, “RhythmsComplete” and “Easy Steps to Rhythm” which I am using with a strict attention anduse of a metronome. My teacher and I are now focusing on sight-reading skills and during my trumpet lessons.

    The advice on TM has been an excellent resource for me. I add this cautionary tale as I have read many posts over the past year and ignored the advice to “play music”, to my own detriment. I really understand now that I was “practice room warrior”. The past couple of months have been a very humbling experience. In closing, I want to say that I am now the youngest person in the trumpet section. The first trumpets are in their 80s. They play with such grace and power, if you closed your eyes, you would have no idea how old they are. I am glad to know that I have a future starting at 50. Playing in the community band is such a great "high".

    Thank you all for your time, patience, and advice the past two years.

    Best Wishes,


    Last edited: Sep 24, 2011
    Aydn and larry tscharner like this.
  2. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    Old guys can really scare you. You don't expect the mastery that often comes from them.
  3. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    It IS true. Trumpet playing will make you a humble man. Glad to see that the experience didn't break you. Remember what the surfers around here say: "Success consists of getting up one more time then you fall down.
  4. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for sharing that. It's the old adage, isn't it? Work on your weaknesses, and while you thought you were-- you were improving thanks to your dedication to your routine-- you didn't pull out the metronome, some unfamiliar music and just shed away. In my 4.5 year comeback, I've had the great fortune to play in a symphony orchestra, funk bands, concert band, studio dates, a number of big bands and performed at everything from private parties to large outdoor venues (last night for 150 swilling souls at the Malibu Family Winery) alongside some pretty seasoned pros, and to the person, they practice so they can perform. I think Herseth said something like that, "don't practice, perform." It really is true. Nothing like some unfamiliar charts to get your blood going! Good luck.

  5. xjb0906

    xjb0906 Piano User

    May 2, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    I know just how you feel. I worked on tone production at home on my own for about 8 months before playing with a group. It didn't take long for me to see what I was lacking in keeping time, and blending with the group. I am improving but still have plenty of work ahead of me. Hopefully I will live long enough to become a musician someday. You will continue to improve as well. Enjoy every moment of it.
  6. larry tscharner

    larry tscharner Forte User

    Apr 30, 2010
    dubuque iowa
    When you finally realise that intonation is only the tip of the iceberg that is musicianship its a scarry challenge to go on towards the goal. Ive played with lots of "hotdog" players who have skills I will never have but at the end of the day I rest assured that I held my own and outperformed most of them. When in doubt always ask yourself....would I enjoy listening to what Im playing or is it simply sounds stiched together. If you dont feel the music inside, it wont be felt by your listener either.

    The best way to become a musician is to go beyond trumpet playing and be a part of something bigger than you can be alone and as stated above, that is a humbling thing that lots of egos dont take well to. Being in an ensamble and making MUSIC is what its all about. Finding the best way to get there is sometimes difficult because of circumstances so always say yes to an oportunity to play with a group. I'l bet if you had stayed in that university band and toughed it out you would have been rewarded with results. As a body builder you know that there is no shortcut to achievement and your time in community band is priceless at getting your goal as a musician. Its something we all are moving on toward but are never really sure where the goal finally is reached. A rule of thumb that I read here on TM long ago is "your a musician only if someone else says you are, not one minute sooner." Good luck and happy playing.
  7. Local 357

    Local 357 Banned

    Jul 1, 2011


    Disagree there. Trumpet players must develop a strong ego. They don't need to go around bragging about themselves. However to really blow this instrument one needs to adopt a confident attitude.

    Humility doesn't really have much to do with it at all.
  8. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Musicians do require confidence, but do not require conceit. The goal is to become so good we don't need an ego.
  9. JediYoda

    JediYoda Mezzo Piano User

    Sep 25, 2010
    State of Confusion
    I always appreciate it when people share from their heart!!!
  10. schleiman

    schleiman Piano User

    May 12, 2010
    Austin, TX
    First of all, congratulations on finding an ensemble to play with. I've found that it really pushes me to be better. I would also like to say that I sort of understand where you are coming from. My teacher has had me doing Clarke Studies, Arban tonguing, Schlossberg exercises and pedal tones along with some of his personal endurance workouts for a while now. I just recently joined a local wind ensemble here in town and when I sat down I realized that I got lost a lot. So now, reading has become a huge focus for me, and my teacher is helping me with it. I'm also learning the importance of learning my scales, as it makes the difficult passages in C# and E easier to have the muscle memory behind the music. And while you are 50, and I am the tender age of 27, we both have so much music to make, and time to play. I wish you nothing but luck on your journey BrotherBach. Perseverance! Please keep us posted on your progress, and take care!

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