Frustration, Frustration, Frustration

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by schleiman, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. schleiman

    schleiman Piano User

    May 12, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Hi there everyone. Long story short I feel that I should be progressing faster than I am. I do have trouble knowing when I should stop playing because my chops feel tired, when I really just want to keep practicing my scales until I've learned them. If I didn't have to rest I would just practice constantly. I have a barrier, my usable range is honestly a G above the staff. In the past I have stated that I had a usable range of an A above the staff. This was a completely wrong statement. Since I've joined the wind ensemble, I am beginning to understand what "usable" really means. I have this barrier in my head of High C. I know that most trumpet players struggle with high notes. But I feel this hunger to press past this particular barrier in my playing. Range takes years right? Please just remind me that I am probably freaking out for no reason. By nature I unfortunately have a handicap when it comes to details. But I still sound....well....BAD! I love music, it has been a part of my life since I was born. Hell, it's the family business! I am not going to quit playing or anything like that, I know this post is very sporadic, but I don't remember being this frustrated learning guitar. When I was younger and learning guitar people always commented on how talented I was and how natural it seemed for me. And really, I'm a good blues player, but my scales and theory knowledge are terrible. For trumpet, this is decidedly not the case. I get stuck trying to apply what I read to what I hear with my ears. I am so used to playing by ear, that learning to play properly is at odds with a habit that I've developed over many years. One of my most frustrating problems is that when I see a note on the page, I can't hear it in my head. Nor can I feel it accurately through the instrument. It takes blowing a note, then figuring out where I am. Is this something that will come simply by playing more? I suppose I'm talking about accuracy. I'm tired of flubbing notes. How does one work on accuracy? Don't really know what I'm asking, just had to vent really. Arggggghhhhh!!!! Regardless, I will persevere, I just feel stuck. Thanks for listening everyone.
  2. BrotherBACH

    BrotherBACH Piano User

    Oct 5, 2010
    I just had this conversation with a teacher. His advice was that it is all about pitch and hearing notes in your head first before you play them. I, too, admitted to being baffled. But, he said just go to a paino and practice hearing notes with the trumpet range. For example, hit a note on the piano then try to sing the pitch a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th higher or lower. I have actually played an exercise on a piano to hear it in my head first before I play it. It is amazing how this helps. I do not play the paino at all but I learned the notes with the range of the trumpet to teach myself the pitches. Also, as part of sight reading, I am teaching myself to quickly play the piece in my head first. This includes pitches, ryhthm and timing. It is a long process that comes with perserverence and patience.

    Best Wishes,

  3. chenzo

    chenzo Piano User

    Jul 18, 2008
    Patience is a virtue,
    playing trumpet or any instrument really is a life long quest where you will never reach perfection...Note........ playing a brass instruments is one of the hardest instruments to play. I read some where ..........If a cat walks along the keys of a piano the sound would be the same for a pro or beginner. not so for a brass .

    Just practice softly and musically and progress will come.

    Relax Max ...........I might be labelled here as a chauvinist... but treat your practice time as you would treat a fine young beautiful lady whom you are trying tying impress for an ever long meaning relationship.

    Not wham bam and thank you Mam

    Above all enjoy what you are doing ................. Play music out of love

    :grouphug: Cheers Chenzo
    Aydn likes this.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    IF we start with a decent teacher, the first thing we learn is breathing, then long tones. They play first, we emulate. No intellectual pseudo crap designed to promote the teachers self worth. Then comes easy lip slurs and tunes - the teacher watching over our body use and breathing. These first 6 months of lessons are of greatest importance if a reasonably fast development is desirable.

    ALL student that have come to me from DIY or other teachers with bad sound, range, endurance missed out on the foundation. TRUMPET IS A WIND INSTRUMENT AND BREATHING IS THE KEY THAT UNLOCKS ITS PLAYING. Good sound is a function of playing, hearing what is coming out of the bell and adjusting according to musical taste and the practiced integration of body, soul and ears.

    If you live in New Jersey, you can travel to New York by going south. The ride is just MUCH longer and with a lot more obstacles.

    If you have not been lucky enough to, from the beginning have a good teacher to emulate, your path will be much more difficult. Even with a good teacher, presently learned habits need to be unlearned and replaced by others. The key is SLOW. We do not get better through practice. We get better by learning what some exercize does for us. We have to know what to listen for. We have to minimize force in our playing to HEAR what our bodies tell us when we play lipslurs, long tones or easy tunes. We need simple intervals in lessons to develop a sense of pitch and intonation. We need a certain amount of feedback to reinforce even small improvements. We need to build the basic foundation of playing.

    Your long post told us nothing except that you have a frustrated approach to playing. That implies that you have been doing something (face time?) but haven't learned much. Frustration is the result of blindness. I think that that would need to be the first goal with a good teacher - open your eyes, ears and mind to things that are good for you. Learn to learn, set goals, relax, program rewards for planned and achieved tasks. Forget about range being a factor in quality playing - it is the last of a long list of prerequisites.

    Good luck!
  5. coolerdave

    coolerdave Utimate User

    Nov 7, 2009
    San Pedro
    yep ... private lessons... priority number 1
    also find you self a tune book ... not the technical ones .. the fun ones like "Easy to play Grestest Movie Hits" or something like that ... tunes that you know and like .... it will help your stress and then you will probably find yourself memorising the songs... it will help in what you are looking for. You might even get one of those guitar playing compliments you use to.
  6. schleiman

    schleiman Piano User

    May 12, 2010
    Austin, TX
    I do have an excellent teacher, and have from about a month into when I started playing. I wrote him about my frustrations as well, and he told me much of the same. There is no magic key to it. It takes hard work, dedication, attention, and listening. As far as setting goals, I really like that idea. The only goal I've set for myself is that I want to be a good player. But that is a rather broad and vague description of what I want out of playing. So let's break it down.....There are loads of different elements to trumpet playing, but if I break it down into the basic techniques as I understand it they are: Sound, Breathing, Lip-slurs, Tonguing, Articulation, Intonation, Flexibility, Endurance, Range. That's for the physical part, then you have the musical part of learning to play a phrase with reverence, learning your scales, playing in time and in tune, sight reading, improvising, and learning and applying theory. I'm just thinking out loud here, if I've left something out, please feel free to chime in. So would a good approach be to spend a certain amount of time on each of these things each day? If I spent 15 mins on each of those elements that would give me a combined playing time of 3.5 hours. This isn't a huge problem, but I would have to space that much face time over 5 or 6 hours in order to not overdo it. If that's what it takes, I will attempt it. There's that , and then there are things that aren't good to do everyday, like my endurance and range exercises. Thank you for all your advice, everyone. Dave, I will go out and buy a tune book when I get paid this week, that's a good idea. I've got a couple Aebersold's and a Classical one. But a book of showtunes or something would be beneficial in learning to interpret written phrases. Thanks everybody, sorry for freaking out, I slept on it and feel ready to tackle rehearsal tonight.
  7. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    My avatar is what it is for a good reason... it is the chinese character that means "Patience"
    The top section of the character represents a knife slashing... the bottom half represents your heart. The dots are blood spurting out.
    The point is that having patience cuts at your heart. Here in the western world we are taught that "Patience is a Virtue". It is a virtue because it is difficult. It tears you heart because you want something now that you can't have. The skill or accomplishment built with patience is very rewarding... when it comes.

    I need to see it every day to remind me that you can't build Rome in a day. It takes one brick at a time.

    Ear training is critical. practice it with a keyboard/piano and SING the note. Have someone else tap a note on the piano and then SING it. Then play it.
    As you practice trumpet and improve mechanically your brain has to lear the neural pathways that connect your ears to your chops/fingers/lungs/diaphram.
    When you see a high D 1/8th note kick on the and-of-4 in a big band chart you have no where to hide. You run up to it. No note before it. Just put the note up to the face, blow air, made high D happen. No splee-ah. Just nails.

    The way to do that is to be able to put the horn up to the face and be able to SING the note. The brain hears it, and because of your great skill and dedication to dilligent practice, your body can execute the brains command.


    Without the brain/ear connection all you can do is push the 1st valve, mash the horn onto your face and blow... praying that a D happens.

    There are some good websites for practicing ear training and hearing intervals.

    BTW> I learned to hear those High D kicks by listening to Roger Ingram play the intro to Red Light Blue Light.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  8. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Ricci Adams'

    During your practice breaks visit the website above, take the lessons and do the exercises. Exercise your ears as much as your chops. Learn popular standards by playing along with recordings. Learn to recognize the intervals in a familiar melody.

    Jiarby is right about patience. It is anathema to the typical trumpet player's personality, so you will need to work and practice to cultivate patience too.
  9. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    I just read your last post//

    I think you are missing the point.
    There are technical things to learn (training your body to play the trumpet). Flexibility, scales, etudes, literature, etc...
    There are mental things to learn (ear training, music theory, listening)
    There are musical/creative things to learn... phrasing, improvisation, composition

    You mentioned a bunch of things... but many are the same, or at least similar.
    Range, Endurance.
    Lip Slurs, Flexibility.
    Tonguing, Articulation.
    Intonation, Sound.

    You should combine these elements into all your playing. You work on all these things togther.
  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I disagree. If this would have worked, you would already be where you want to be. It is NOT working and that should tell you something. Playing starts when you take the horn out of the case. It is an attitude. Your body use is the next step, preparing for that BIG relaxed breath, then the exhale with minimal tension. At that point 90% of what is important has happened. I am sure that this is also where you are failing. Face time is waste time. Every brainlessly played note sets us back. You don't need to break anything down. Your focus is in the wrong place. You are like a boxer going in for more even although your opponent is about ready to kill you. Technique obviously is not working and either your teacher doesn't know why, or you aren't listening.

    If what you are doing is not working, maybe it makes more sense to step back and review the situation.

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