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. Octiceps

    Octiceps Pianissimo User

    May 5, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Actually, altering my grip is one change I've already made since starting lessons with my teacher. I now use only my thumb and index fingers to support the trumpet with my left hand and the other three go under the third valve slide. I've also tucked my right thumb between valve casings 1 and 2 and taken my pink out of the pinky hook. I don't worry too much about the naturally sharp notes that require the third slide to be kicked out.

    I find that this gives me less leverage to push the horn into my face, and is a sort of sanity check when I desperately want to press harder.
  2. Octiceps

    Octiceps Pianissimo User

    May 5, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I am in the process of looking for a different teacher, maybe not to replace the one I have right now, but at least to get some second opinions.

    Not to be rude, but I think that is REALLY jumping to conclusions.

    The guy I work with right now has told me to visualize trumpet playing as "the easiest thing in the world," and to say that to myself as soon as I start tensing up. Do you have any other suggestions for exercises to help me relax?
  3. fraserhutch

    fraserhutch Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Novato, CA, USA
    BTW, BS. Pedal tones and buzzing have their place. YOU may think they're a waste of time, but not evertyone will agree with you, and I'll take the word of the likes of Stamp and Gordon over yours, thank you very much.

    What may not work for you may work wonders for others. Some things work for some, and not for others.

    Trumpet playing *is* easy *after* you learn how to relax. The trick of course is learning how to relax and how to stay stay relaxed.

    I think the OP is learning one of the things we all have to successfully learn before we can really become the players we want to be: that ultimately you have to teach yourself. If what your teacher is doing for you doesn't work, or you don't buy into it, time to move on and find sonething that you buy into and that does work. But most importantly, you have to learn how to discern the BS from the gems of wisdom here, and to realize that fully 90%+ of the people here are talking out of their butts and are less accomplished that you are at this moment.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Wow - lots of stuff to wade through. I'm not going to give you any advice about playing the trumpet or to even begin to address anything that deals with the mechanics of playing. That's between you and whatever teacher you decide to study with.

    First of all, why are you playing the trumpet? What is the overriding reason you are doing it? For me, playing trumpet was always about the buzz I got from playing music, and it was such a pull that I had decided by the time I was in the middle of 7th grade that I was going to pursue music in a big way throughout the course of my life. I turned 40 last week, and I'm still going strong with it. However, there were some times I thought about hanging it up.

    A few years ago, for reasons I'm still not sure of, although I think they were mostly psychological in nature, my playing started to take a turn for the worse and gigging was a struggle. I wasn't playing well, I was chopping out all the time - it has ceased being fun, and to me, that's one of the main reasons I continue to do it. Part of it also had to do with my endeavors as a drummer - I had another instrument waiting for me in the wings, so playing trumpet wasn't my only musical outlet. I actually quit the band I was with for a short time, but after sitting down with the band leader for an extensive talk one day which cleared the air on a lot of things and took a lot of pressure off of me from a performance point of view, I went back to it.

    I think that everyone goes through developmental and psychological challenges when it comes to playing the instrument, but you have to decide 1.) why you do it and 2.) how important it is to you. Answering those two questions should provide all the insight you need into whether or not you should stick it out and get past the playing issues you are currently experiencing.
  5. kcmt01

    kcmt01 Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 25, 2009
    Polson, MT
    There is no shame in being a 2nd or 3rd trumpet. In high school, there were about 400 students in each class. The band had about 100 members. Of that total, we had about 25 trumpets. 8 first trumpets, 8 or so 2nd trumpets, and whatever was left over were 3rd. Think about it: One out of every 16 students was a trumpet player! I was first chair, second trumpet. That meant that 5 first chair trumpets were ranked below me. Today, none of those first chair trumpets even play any more. I have my own successful band. Don't sweat range. Learn music. Learn harmony. Learn to play by ear. LEARN!
  6. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    There's no shame in playing 3rd trumpet. But if you aren't capable of playing high notes, you're doing something wrong and you need to address that. And at least for me, I wouldn't be having much fun if I was always forced into playing 3rd because I just couldn't play the higher parts.

    Be careful about "not sweating" range. It can be a good barometer of whether your chops are working or not. If you can't play above high C, it's very likely that your chops aren't as efficient as they could be, your sound isn't as good as it could be, etc. Obviously 95% of music happens in the staff, and that's where 95% of practicing should take place. But if your range cuts off at high Bb, there is a problem.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  7. Moshe Mizrachi

    Moshe Mizrachi Pianissimo User

    Feb 17, 2010
    "BTW, BS. Pedal tones and buzzing have their place. YOU may think they're a waste of time, but not evertyone will agree with you, and I'll take the word of the likes of Stamp and Gordon over yours, thank you very much."

    As I already cited, it is not a matter of Moshe Mizrachi’s reputation versus Stamp and Gordon.

    It is a matter of famous trumpeter Bud Brisbois and famous teacher Donald Reinhardt versus Stamp and Gordon.

    When Maynard Ferguson wanted his son to have professional-level trumpet lessons, Maynard sent his son to Donald Reinhardt along with a blank check made out to Donald Reinhardt.

    As a friend of mine once posted…

    A quote from
    showing many people who have studied under Reinhardt and / or endorsed his teachings, from Maynard Ferguson to Lin Biviano to Lynn Nicholson to Clark Terry:

    --------begin quote-------------


    If the proof is in the pudding then you would have to agree that there is a lot of pudding here:

    Bill Harris
    Kai Winding
    Warren Covington
    Trummy Young
    Al Grey
    Randy Purcell
    Matt Niess
    Roger Homefield
    Doug Elliott
    Doug Edelman
    Quintin Jackson
    Barney Lidell (Lawrence Welk)
    Milt Bernhardt
    Bill Gibson
    Tommy Pederson
    Ray Wetzel
    Art Depew
    Bernie Glow
    Lin Biviano
    Lyn Nicholson
    Rich Willey
    Red Rodney
    Stan Mark
    Don Junker
    Chris Labarbera
    Johnny Mandel

    Also, Reinhardt coached the Harry James and Woody Herman brass sections in the 40s. Harry James recommended that Reinhardt go to New York in the 40s and establish a studio.

    For symphony guys, Reinhardt himself played bass trombone with the New York Philharmonic in 1942 and did some sub work with the Philly Orchestra under Stokowski. Also, Reinhardt went to Curtis at the same time as John Coffey and Arnold Jacobs.

    Many symphony players went to see Reinhardt "on the sly" because they didn't want it to be known that they might be having chop trouble. One example is Frank Crisafulli who at one point said Reinhardt "was a genius" after Frank went to Reinhardt with some chop troubles.

    So, I can't imagine any teacher who has a more elite studio than Reinhardt did. The list above is just the tip of the iceberg because he also taught MANY guys from the premier service bands, orchestra guys, and thousands of guys you've never heard of but credit whatever success they may have to Reinhardt.

    Sam has mentioned Maynard Ferguson several times now and I think it might be interesting to know that when Maynard's son Bentley was learning to play the trumpet, Maynard sent him to REINHARDT to study and gave Reinhardt a BLANK CHECK and told him to fill it in with whatever he needed to to get Bentley to play. Reinhardt thought it would be much better to hang the check in his studio than to cash it, so that's what he did. Maynard's son, unfortunately, killed himself. So, one might say Reinhardt had Maynard's respect which probably came since MANY of the players in Maynard's and Stan Kenton's orchestras were Reinhardt students.

    A couple years ago I was talking to a VERY good trumpet player who was having some chop trouble after he injured himself. This guy talk to CLARK TERRY who told him he should look into Reinhardt's ideas to get him straightened out. He did this and he said he not only got his chops back but he also gained another octave on top. Looks like Clark Terry dug Reinhardt as well and Reinhardt also respected Clark Terry's chops (and musicianship, obviously). Terry's chops are textbook according to Reinhardt's teachings.


    quoted from

    ---------------------end quote-------------

    So when I cited the anti-Pedal Tones warning from Bud Brisbois and Donald Reinhardt,
    that warning was not “BS” as you claimed.
    It was a warning from 2 people of great reputation in the trumpet-playing community.

    The facts are…
    If you practice pedal tones,
    the best that can happen is that you will develop a totally useless skill.
    And the worse that can happen is that you will destroy your embouchure.
    Many people will fall somewhere in the middle, with practicing pedal tones
    causing them to develop 2 different embouchures that they will switch between,
    with the 2 different embouchures adversely affecting each other and causing nagging problems.

    "But most importantly, you have to learn how to discern the BS from the gems of wisdom here, and to realize that fully 90%+ of the people here are talking out of their butts and are less accomplished that you are at this moment"

    Using very little mouthpiece-against-lips pressure, I can play scales up to soft Double High C's on a Wick 3 mouthpiece on a .485 bore 1966 Conn 5A cornet.
    That's not BS talking out of my butt.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  8. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    What are you going to do with the trumpet after high school?

    If you're going to music school, then stay with the teacher idea.
    If you're playing in band because you like it and have a different path for your life, just play and have fun.

    Playing the trumpet isn't rocket science. Put the trumpet up and buzz which sets up a wave that goes through the trumpet. I curl my bottom lip and it works.

    embouchure, shmombishure; we are talking about high school band. Just play what you can and don't jam the trumpet into your mouth. Most of all, have fun!
  9. Octiceps

    Octiceps Pianissimo User

    May 5, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I play trumpet for the same reasons you do. It's a hobby that I'm really passionate about, and it's in my nature to strive to be the very best in my passions. I don't want to sound selfish, but I don't play trumpet to please my parents or other people; I do it just for me. Which is my I get so frustrated when my playing takes a huge nosedive—I feel that I'm not reaching my full potential and that I have not control over my progress. Even if I practice a ton, I just don't get better.
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I hear what you are saying. There was a time when from a technical standpoint I was really playing well and I was pleased with where I was where playing the trumpet was concerned. At the time I was playing for my living (in a way - I was an Army Bandsman) and I was playing good music in great ensembles daily.

    When I left that lifestyle to pursue a career in Information Technology, my playing went down, and I had a very difficult time reconciling the musician I remembered myself being with the musician I had become because simply put, I wasn't putting in the same kind of time and focus - my chops and facility on the horn couldn't help but take a downward turn.

    Over the years I've developed practice routines that maximize my time so that I can be the best I can be given the amount of time I put in. I'll never be what I was when I was in my early 20s, but I've accepted it for what it is.

    I think you just need to get through this phase. Stop trying so hard and just work at making music. Dial in on the specific things that need to be addressed from a technical perspective and get to work. There is no magic method - you'll just have to find the methods that will help you and work hard to make the improvement. You will also have to accept that fixing problems and issues with your playing isn't something that will occur in a matter of days. It might take weeks or even months before you start to really notice the improvement but I guarantee that with a GOOD teacher (you might want to seek a second opinion - I'm not sure I like what this guy told you about your chops) and dedicated and focused practice, your playing WILL improve and you'll be back on track toward achieving your goals as a musician.

Share This Page