I'm really at the end of my rope. Should I just quit trumpet?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Octiceps, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. keehun

    keehun Piano User

    Feb 4, 2010
    Hey there.

    I'm in the same position as you. I'm entering senior year of high school. I've been playing the trumpet since 5th grade.

    I was told I had a near perfect embouchure by a super teacher in the area so I haven't changed my embouchure but I've made some adjustments... Those adjustments like curling in the lip just a little bit. That means that I'm really having to deal with frustrating change.

    I've had nights where I thought of exactly the same things you were thinking. "How am I going to survive in this trumpet thing? What's it worth?" because I couldn't play for squat. I've had some real real high moments before and I'm floating on those (moments like singing my heart out at a huge huge Messiah concert as one of the two trumpets, floating on top of an orchestra with American in Paris solo, just... good times when I wasn't worrying so much).

    My band director who is just a real mentor of me tells me not to worry so much. She says she hears improvements in my tone every time she's heard me this summer. (And HAHA she is not the usual teacher that says good things for your sake... She's known as "THE B" to a lot of the students that are really bad with their instruments... but I mean... she was a college professor, and... I guess she's trying to help).

    Anyways. KEEP IT UP. My "completely relaxed & free" range is to that E on the top space. Just like yours as you say. Anything higher requires me to apply a little pressure or do something that's not relaxed & free.

    But I'm keeping up with patience and I can hear some change.

    Remember, there are no shortcuts with music.

  2. kcmt01

    kcmt01 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 25, 2009
    Polson, MT
    Well, kid, my advice is to hang in there. I've been playing for 40 years, and I'm still trying to figure my chops out. Remember, the sax was invented because not everyone can play trumpet. It's better to be a really great 3rd trumpet than have to be demoted to sax. Why do you think they write 2nd and 3rd trumpet parts?
  3. wolfmann

    wolfmann Pianissimo User

    Aug 19, 2010
    You sound like a pretty smart kid to me.
    If in your heart you are a trumpet player then thats what you are.
    It wont hurt to learn other instruments as a former Music Major you have to do that anyways.Its actually pretty fun.
    Frustration is VERY common,sometimes you wanna smash your horn into a wall sometimes you watch a great player perform and it makes you wanna go home and practice.I had a good friend who got so mad he took his French Besson and stomped on it.
    Yes He felt REAL bad after the fact but he now teaches at a VERY well known music college.
    As far as too much pressure is concerned I had a problem with that also once.
    I took lessons from a guy who played first chair in the LA Philharmonic.
    He had me NOT grasp the horn.
    Left hand was straight out only using that hand to support the horn NOT holding it at ALL.
    Right hand I could only use the thumb to hold up the leadpipe,Pinky was NOT to be used in anyway,fingering had to be light cause you couldnt do anything else.

    AS far as what you are now having to deal with is that you have played for YEARS using this method.
    You are now changing that.
    Muscle Memory is VERY extreme,your lip has to unlearn what you have been telling it for years,this is not a easy process.
    Yes I believe in buzzing.
    Yes I believe in long tones to help you center your tone.
    Basic stuff is basic stuff if you cant do simple basics of playing you wont improve.
  4. Darrien

    Darrien Pianissimo User

    Nov 27, 2008
    St Vincent (West Indies)
    Oh I love this!!! Gotta remember this one.
  5. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    The good news is that you write quite well and can articulate your situation. That puts you ahead of lots of other HS seniors!

    Resetting will take time and patience. If you want to play, you will work through this. Consulting another teacher never hurts. Just one lesson with someone else may be all it takes to regain some momentum

    Look deep and decide what you want.
  6. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    Playing 3rd trumpet is great, but to be eternally stuck playing a lower part because you don't have chops is miserable.

    Give it some more time - if I understand the original post correctly, you've only just begun this embouchure chance a few months ago. Expect it to take a good year or two before you feel really solid again. Try to be patient and don't be too hard on yourself.

    This is hard, but don't focus on the end goal, focus on the improvements that you make. For instance, don't think "I could play a high C 6 months ago and now I can barely play a C in the staff", think "I sound a tiny bit better today than I did yesterday". Do your best to try to appreciate those small improvements.
  7. samej

    samej New Friend

    Apr 22, 2010
    Bristol, Uk
    Stick with it. You will get there. As others have said, it just takes time. It's easy to forget how long it took the first time round! It's only been 3 months and that is nothing at all.

    At the same time there is nothing wrong with learning a new instrument. I picked up the bass guitar a couple of years ago and it's great. I'd go with something like that (or guitar, piano, drums) if you have time but make sure it doesn't distract from your trumpet practice. Learning a new instrument is fun and will also remind you how hard it is to start from scratch (which you probably essentially are on the trumpet). I don't know what styles of music you play, but I found learning bass has done wonders for my understanding of jazz and has helped my trumpet no end because of it. Also it's easier to get gigs!

    Whatever you do, work hard and good luck.
  8. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Octiceps -
    I feel for you. That is a tough position to be in. Embouchure is a very difficult - and personal - thing. That is why brass instruments are the most difficult to play.

    I can relate to your situation - somewhat. I am also an extreme downstream player. Both my top and bottom lips roll over my teeth a bit (using the "smile" method with the ends of the lips pulled back tightly). When I freebuzz, I can feel the air going directly down my chin. It's hard to be more downstream than that. But even with that, my top and bottom lips are aligned closely enough that I don't have difficulty keeping the mouthpiece against my bottom lip. But, even so, I found that my range was limited - with or without pressure.

    A year ago, I decided to switch to the "pucker method". The standard description of this is to form the lips like blowing on hot soup. I refer to is as placing the lips like I am trying to spit out a watermelon seed. Now, with this position, I cannot freebuzz at all but I can mouthpiece buzz. This position causes the air to blow more-or-less directly into the throat of the mouthpiece - it's still a bit downstream but not as much as before. It also results in pretty much a 50/50 top/bottom position.

    It took several months of concentration during practice before I could play with the pucker method but now I find that I can play with less pressure and less fatigue. It has not, so far, added much to my range but I think it will. In your case, just being able to play normally within your previous range sounds like it would be a huge win for you. It might be worth a shot to see if you could make this work.

    It may also help reduce whatever effect the previous extreme pressure has had on your lips. Good luck.
  9. tromj

    tromj Piano User

    Jun 4, 2005
    Teaneck, NJ
    Babe Ruth was an average pitcher in baseball. He was a world class slugger.[/QUOTE]

    Babe Ruth had a lifetime 93-44 w-l record, with a low ERA. He was a great pitcher!
  10. tromj

    tromj Piano User

    Jun 4, 2005
    Teaneck, NJ
    I think you need to look for a different teacher. I never trust teachers who tell you to relax. You need to find a teacher who will give you an exercise that will teach you to relax.

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