How many trumpet players actually use dynamics when they play?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Markie, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2010
    I just found this forum...very interesting posts...and this one hits the nail on the head.

    I am a beginning trumpet teacher (I've played for over 40 years). I started on Piano (at age 6) and trumpet a couple of years later. Stayed with Piano until college.

    I have several trumpet students, ranging from 5th to 9th grade (with one piano student thrown in).

    One of the most important things I try to instill in them is a sense of musicality. Part of being musical is playing the music, not just the horn.
    A sense of Style is essential in trumpeting, whether playing a hard-driving big band arrangement or a solo baroque piece in a church. The trumpet needs to "sing" the melody - not just play it.

    I try to draw out each student's own personal style. I encourage them to listen to all types of music (not just trumpet) and I play quite a bit in lessons, both to demonstrate and to help them learn balance and intonation.

    Many "musicians" lack a sense of style - mostly because they have just a couple of dynamic levels in their pockets - loud and louder. And they don't listen to the music they want to play. It's a shame.

    Again - I agree on the "musician" vs. "Trumpet player" comment.
  2. Heuy

    Heuy New Friend

    Jun 11, 2010
    Darwin, Australia
    Dynamics is a must, feel the Music, its more than notes on a page. :play: Admittedly some people are better at Dynamics then others.

    But for those who are not getting the point and playing at a constant :bash:

    Just point them in the direction of Arbans as he concentrated on it quite a lot.:wave:
  3. nieuwguyski

    nieuwguyski Forte User

    Aug 9, 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA
    Forget outdoor-versus-indoor playing. Dynamics are still relative. If you always play forte at the same decibel level you're not being musical.

    I once played an entire (indoor) concert entitled "The Antiphonal Music of Giovanni Gabrielli." So we played a program of brass pieces written for two brass choirs, playing various call-and-response and echoic pieces. It was good stuff. but the kicker at this concert was that one of the instrumental choirs was a recorder consort. It was seven brass trying to balance seven recorders (and the low recorders are really quiet). Sure, it wasn't what Gabrielli had in mind, but that was the gig.

    It was ridiculous, but ultimately exciting because all the brass players accepted the challenge. The concert was conducted by the leader of the recorder consort (which was challenging enough -- think "choir conductor"), who was horrified by the potential volume of the brass. We had to play essentially inaudibly, yet with musical intensity and dynamic contrast.

    We did it. I have never played so quietly for such an extended time. And yet there was still a certain amount of dynamic contrast, dictated by what the fipple-suckers were capable of.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Dynamics, along with phrasing, are the salt & pepper, sugar & spice of music. If you aren't doing it, what are you really doing? 98% of the music I play is done amplified, playing into a microphone. I still use dynamics and focus on phrasing. Did I always? Well, yes and no - it depended on the context.

    We were always taught dynamics and phrasing. Having said that, I went through two big surges in chops, once in 7th grade, and again in 9th grade. After my surge in chops in 9th grade, probably combined with the pep bands we had to attend, I got into this thing where I liked to kind of show off how loud and high I could play. Volume has never been a problem for me but I still played dynamics in concert band, even if I did get a bit carried away at pep bands.
  5. craigph

    craigph Piano User

    Mar 12, 2010
    Interesting thread. I did some work for a hotel in Japan that had a wedding chapel on the roof. They had an option of having a trumpet for a wedding. The guy that did those weddings had a music degree and tons of education and was technically brilliant, but I used to cringe when I saw him coming because his only setting seemed to be BLARTISIMO. His pp was like my ff, and then his 'dynamic' range went from there up to 'ears bleeding'. Everyone wanted someone else to talk to him about this 'problem' and a few of us tried to subtly encourage him to use more appropriate sound levels, but he didn't get it. As far as he was concerned he WAS playing a full dynamic range.

    I started playing trumpet when I was 6 or 7 and a year later (after much begging) I was allowed to go to (community) band practice with my father (sax) and two much older brothers (clarinet and trombone). The band was almost all very old men who smoked and drank a lot during the breaks. I sat at the very end of the row and doubled whatever the last part was. The old guy next to me was kind and helped me out, but the guys at the other end of the row really didn't want anything to do with me and I was under strict instructions to not be noticed. If I couldn't hit a note, play it an octave down, or just sit out that part. And at all times, play softly enough that noone 3 or 4 seats down would ever hear me. THAT is how I learned to play very softly, and I think it was a valuable lesson for a young kid. Later when I played in youth orchestras I noticed that other kids my age didn't have any 'p' setting on their horns.
  6. jmberinger

    jmberinger Pianissimo User

    Jun 5, 2007
    Long Beach, California
    I must confess that when I returned to playing after a 25 years break, forte and above were the only dynamics available to me. Since then, I have started practicing at pianoforte to work on the more nuanced playing. With that change, control of the airstream got better too, which meant that I was willing to risk a decrease the dynamics during performances.

    I do think though that all music has gotten louder. The expression of pp or even mp does not appear in the majority of music that people hear, and when it does it is a function of turning down the music. I do remember when loud was spectacular, and dominated the musical concepts, which was before the use of electronics as a substitute for skill.

    I think that if we, as musicians, were to play softly that dynamically nuanced music would be heard more often.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010
  7. dabhand

    dabhand New Friend

    Apr 7, 2008
    Ramsgate Kent England
    Interesting thread !
    My personal opinion would be to join and attend weekly Rehearsal Bands such as Military Concert, Big Band, Brass or Orchestral Ensembles regularly, as part of your learning process
    Conductors would put you through the paces as regards dynamics
    kind regards
  8. dangeorges

    dangeorges Pianissimo User

    Oct 20, 2010
    I must admit I'm actually shocked at the number of trumpet players in this forum who haven't incorporated dynamics, especially during their "formative" years of learning music.

    I agree with an earlier post - the blame rests with the teacher (and anyone else who put up with monotonous dynamic levels).

    It's also hard to believe that some of the folks actually get gigs playing without dynamics.

    At any rate, playing musically is important with any instrument (or voice, for that matter). I would much rather hire and play along with a player who is musically adept (and plays with style) than one who is technically adept and plays loud all the time.

  9. leftmid7

    leftmid7 Mezzo Piano User

    Sep 21, 2010
    Franklin, TN
    the ones that are musicians.
  10. krmanning

    krmanning Pianissimo User

    Apr 18, 2009
    Fayetteville, NC
    Basic answer around here, not enough of the players do play dynamics. I'm a 49 year old comeback player after 20 years off, and while I have neither the range or the power of some of the kids I play with, at least I have been told that I play musically. Best compliment I ever got.

    In our community band the younger players just don't get it. And this time of year thy all play like they are in a marching band, which most of them are. But for our band, I ask them to play everything 2 levels softer than they think it should be. If the director asks for more trumpet sounds, I figure I have been successful.

    In my private lessons and personal playing, my teacher still wants me to exaggerate my dynamics more than I ever would as a section player. The softs need to be softer and the louds way louder (with control) Goes against everything I learned before, but I'm trying. In lessons, my teacher wants all techinical studies and drills played pp. I'm still working on that, too.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2010

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