Do I have the right chops for trumpet?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by nchsbandrocks10, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    I see that almost everyone has been talking around the issue(s). What I'm about to say comes from 42 years as a professional player and 32 years teaching trumpet lessons.

    First you have some good questions.

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TRUMPET CHOPS!!! The person who told you that does not know what they are talking about. Learning to play any musical instrument is a skill. Skills can be learned/taught. For the trumpet it realy takes someone who knows what they are doing. Just because they have a degree or an opinion doesn't bestow knowledge or experience.

    You've be taking lessons and you only have a consistant G at the top of the staff. Your teacher didn't know how to develop your range/embouchure!! Was your teacher a trumpet player? If so I'm very concerned that a trumpet player/teacher couldn't help you. As Rowuk stated " after a year you should be able to hit a high C", seems to me that they didn't know what they were doing. I'm assuming they had no problem taking your money.

    You say your mouthpiece says 3C but is not a Bach but a store brand. There are a lot of copies out there of Bach mouthpieces. Unless it has another brand name like Conn, getzen, Blessing, etc. it could very well be an inferior mpc. How can you tell. Go to ANOTHER music store (not the one where you were SOLD this mpc.) and try a Bach 3C, a Yamaha 14C4/3C, a Stork 3C, a Curry 3C. Can you tell a difference? If it plays better buy it. If no difference put it back. The size of a mpc has nothing to do with how high or low you can play. If your embouchure is properly developed you can play a high C on any mpc.

    Your playing issues are fixable but it will take someone with a proven track record of developing you as a player. No tricks, no gimmicks. Just solid tried and true methodology applied in an intelligent way. In 32 years of teaching the only students of mine who didn't develop were the ones too lazy to practice.

    The reason you have issues is not because you Can't learn to play, don't have the right lips, aren't tall/short enough, wrong eye color. It's because you had a bad teacher. A bad teacher is worse than no teacher.

    Do you have a web cam? I can take a look at you for free. Let you know if you have any serious bad habits. or you may be just fine and need to play and stop listening to the young and foolish. You obviously love the trumpet and you deserve to be able to play it and enjoy it.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2010
  2. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    Louis - huge lips
    Chet - Teeny Bush Sr. type lips

    It just doesn't matter - you just need to find your MP and embouchure.
  3. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    nchsbandrocks10 sez:
    I was talking with the marching band grad assistant and he was telling me how some people might not have trumpet chops, but low brass chops. Ever since he said that, I've been wondering if maybe I have low brass chops. I think about it, and I really do love playing trumpet, having the melody and stuff, but I would really like to play something that I have more of the chops for. I've invested so much money into trumpets [I own 2]. What do you guys think? Should I try low brass or stick to trumpet? I would like honest opinions with suggestions, please and thank you.
    You're a long way from home(which can suck)
    You don't have your old private teacher
    You're a freshman (which is definately a life changing event that takes you out of your normal "home" routine)
    You've got a sunk cost in time (approx.7 years of playing)
    You've got a sunk cost in money (private lessons, two trumpets, and everything else associated with the trumpet)
    This is a biggie (You love the trumpet)
    Now You've got a "grad assistant?" saying "You might not have trumpet chops."
    I've been playing a long time and I've seen a lot of embrochures and I don't know what a trumpet embrochure is. I'll give you an example:
    The incredible Phil Smith plays trumpet for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. However, when you watch him play:
    His horn appears to be pointed too far down.
    The way he puts the mouthpiece against the lips is not centered against the lips.
    He plays the horn tilted to the side so the valves are not straight up and down.
    His lips are thin.
    His approach is absolutely all wrong for trumpet. Right?
    Get my point?
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  4. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    Bob hit the nail on the head about "trumpet chops". This could also be a reason for the grad asst saying what he/she said; they need lower brass. I don't know, I'm not there. Topic came up after band Monday. Most of the players were/are band teachers. Overwhelming consensus was you never lack for trumpets, but are always looking for lower brass This jogged my memory about my brother in high school. County opened a new school and on the first day of band the director has 8 trumpets and only 1 trombone, no baritone, french horn, and 1 tuba. Not a good ratio. My brother ended up playing the bass trumpet/trombone. Just sayin... .
  5. funBox

    funBox New Friend

    Sep 13, 2010
    Statesboro, GA
    Hi (NCHS?),

    I can safely say that at the beginning of my freshman year of college, I was in the same boat as you. Coming into a university where everyone (and I mean EVERYONE, music major or not) was better than me as far as tone quality and range was concerned, I felt awfully discouraged and often embarrassed when I would do my individual practice.

    Like you, my range was an issue: on a good day I could barely get to a D (in the staff!). It wasn't until recently, (I'm now starting my sophomore year as a music major, one year later) that I started realizing that the majority of what was going on with my playing were three major things:

    1-inconsistent practice, IE I would practice one day, get discouraged by my sound (mostly because I kept comparing myself to other players practicing nearby, which I recommend you do NOT do!) and would come back the next day with no motivation, thus my embouchure, and playing ability in general would never have a chance to develop.

    2, lack of air: probably my biggest problem, and still a problem to this day, (though thankfully not as much). I found that, and this may or may not be the case with you, I couldn't get above a D in the staff because, mentally, I would psyche myself out even before I put the mouthpiece to my lips, and cut off the air as I go up, causing my D's to be even flatter than they already are, (that is, if I even managed to hit it in the first place!).

    Finally, 3-This one sort of ties all of these together, **Attitude**: I found that the way I felt going into playing, whether it be individual, in a group scenario, or what have you, the more relaxed I felt, and the less worried I was about what I "couldn't" do, the more I "could" do. I believe it was Rowuk himself (herself? :dontknow:) who opened my eyes to the fact that the majority of trumpet playing is in your head, not on your lips, not in your fingers, not in your... well, you catch my drift.

    Anyways, none of this would have been possible to overcome (for me, anyhow) without my private instructor guiding me along. You say you're in college now. Does your college have a music department/trumpet teacher who could give you lessons? That's where I would start!

    Obviously these aren't the only problems I've overcome with my playing, or am still overcoming to this day, but these were just some of the things that stuck out to me. I hope this helped you! Good luck :D (Oh, and for the record, since then, my range has gone from a D in the staff to a D above the staff! :-))
    tobylou8 likes this.
  6. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    As an aside, it could be a "mute" point (pun intended). They are running the band year to year. Too bad.
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    The first question deals with "trumpet embrochure":
    I think its safe to say that trumpet players develop an embrochure that's conducive to playing the trumpet but there's no such thing as a "trumpet embrochure". If there is, then you have one. You've been using it to play the trumpet for 7 years, right?
    The second question deals with increasing range:
    If you want to increase your range, read Arch Tongue and Hiss. This simple easy to read article has helped a lot of people with this very problem.
    Good luck
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  8. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    I strongly believe - no, I know - that anybody can develop good chops (sound, range, endurance) on the trumpet. But I hesitate to say "there's no such thing as trumpet chops."

    Physically, anybody is capable of doing it, so from that perspective then yes, there is no such thing as chops built for trumpet or built for low brass.

    I think it's mainly a mental thing. Some people just have a knack for some things - certain activities just make more sense to them, their brain can understand them better for whatever reason.

    If anything, I suppose it's likely that the way your brain "understands" playing a brass instrument (both consciously and subconsciously) is more suited to playing low brass. You have a certain way of playing that you've been using since you were little, and you have an idea in your head of how it should feel to play the trumpet. Given your range issues, it is likely that both of these things are not optimal for trumpet playing.

    The way you've been approaching the trumpet for the past however many years is not a way that works. I think that much is clear. Maybe the way you approach trumpet would be an effective approach for playing a low brass instrument - I have no idea.

    That said, if you really want to play trumpet, there's absolutely no reason you can't change those thought processes. It will take a lot of time, a lot of hard work, you'll want to throw your trumpet at the wall, it will suck. But you can do it.

    There are no physical limitations holding you back, and in that respect there's no such thing as "trumpet chops". You just need to change/destroy/overcome those notions you have in your head of how to play the trumpet, because obviously they aren't working.

    If you try something and it feels "weird" (but not uncomfortable, per se), that's probably a good thing. Keep in mind that what you "think" you know about trumpet playing is probably bad, and holding you back.
  9. nchsbandrocks10

    nchsbandrocks10 New Friend

    Feb 27, 2009
    Reno, NV
    oh wow, that really helped. i feel like i'm not the only person in the whole world going through this.

    i've decided i'm going to stay on trumpet, i love it too much to give up. i've talked to my friend who has the same embrasure as I do [play off to the left with mostly top lip], and she's going to try and help me out. i live pretty close to the music building, so i'm going to try and make it down there a lot more to practice. i'm going to try and save up money so i can take some lessons next semester. i'm going to try to go to a music store this weekend to see about my mouthpiece and such.

    and to everyone: thanks for the help. you guys all helped me decide to stay on trumpet and get motivated. :thumbsup:
  10. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Building range takes time. If you stretch too high one day and it doesn't work and you get discouraged, then the next day you don't and there you stay. Try playing your scales just one half step higher than comes easily. For a week do that every day. In a relatively short time, but not overnight or even maybe in a week, you will be able to play up that extra half-step with out straining.

    Then you add in the next half step.

    Let's say, just for example, that in two weeks you have become comfortable with the added half step. In a month you will add a whole step. In two months, a major third. If you keep it up at that rate in month number 3 you'll have gone from G to high C.

    At half that rate you'd be at high C in 5 months.

    Make sure you focus on breathing correctly and support. Make sure you get regular exercise and plenty of sleep. Embrace a positive attitude.

    Progress takes time and patience. And persistence. And dedication. If you do the work and keep at it, you will get where you want to go.

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