Inconsistent Older Trumpet Player Here

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by deano56, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    A couple of thoughts and ideas from the peanut gallery over here.

    First thing I'd do in your spot is to find a community band to be a part of - skip community orchestra for the moment IMO. Right now you are looking to regain ability and improve, and orchestral music can be a bit tedious for that - you'll have more opportunity in a concert band. Surroud yourself in a section with people better than you - nothing will help you improve faster than having a real gig or concert on the horizon and trying to bring yourself up to the level of the folks around you.

    Second, I'm going to go against the grain and say to look into getting a new horn if you have the coin for it. Believe me when I say that there is nothing like the buzz of a new instrument that makes you want to go get it out and put in some time. When my son was starting to show some real promise as a guitar player, I put a real Gibson Les Paul Standard ($2000+ guitar at the time) in his hands. I think that kid would have slept with that guitar if he could have, and because he loved the guitar so much and was putting in so much time, the amount of improvement he made in the following year was exponential.

    Third - mouthpiece. Find something middle of the road in terms of size that's comfortable and stick with that. As you get more time in and you start to rebuild chops you won't feel the need to go to a different mouthpiece unless you get to a point where you are trying to specialize. In my case, I do a lot of playing on a Schilke 14A4, but that's only because the bulk of what I play is rock and roll horn lines where I need the added brightness to the sound. I've never gained any range with a mouthpiece - it has made it easier, but it didn't give me anything I didn't already have. When I'm not working on the rock and roll stuff, and on the occasion I have a more classically oriented gig, I play on a straight Schilke 14 - middle of the road in terms of diameter and depth, and gives me the kind of sound I need for it.

    That's all I've got. Keep us posted, and welcome to the forum!
  2. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    No no no damnit no!

    This type of advice completely ruined me and held me back YEARS because I was supposed to be able to play a middle of the road piece... and I couldn't. I tried the Schilke 14 and it's a good piece for someone else but wasn't a match for me.

    There's nothing wrong with a Giardinelli 17M... though I might suggest seeing if you can find a 17C on ebay. There's one on there now but for $77 I think it's grossly overpriced.

    You don't need a new horn, either, but get it checked over by a competent technician to clean it and align the valves... and see whether you need any slide tubes tightened up or the valves need rebuilding. A horn with loose valves plays like a brand-new horn after the valves are rebuilt.

  3. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Being that I am 57 years old now I feel that I have a limited time to play the trumpet or even trying to improve, I feel limited there too.
    The good news is, no one can promise anyone tomorrow. If you feel that your time is limited, then that time is very important so let's get busy!
    All that being said maybe a little background, I played 1-3 chair in the trumpet section in high school, I could have been 1st chair consistently if I would have practised more and wasn't fearful of competition. Since high school I have been hit or miss with playing, my playing consist of playing in church and that might be just 4-5 times a year. I would like to improve my playing in the upper registry some, (nothing crazy high though) but a couple or three notes above high c.
    The notes you described are simple and are attainable in a a day. I'll PM you as to how to do it.
    Right now I play LaBlanc 707 sonic, and to tell you the truth, I don't know if it is a decent trumpet or not, but I believe I have good tone quality with it as long as I practise consistently. After looking at youtube videos about proper mouth/lip position I'm not sure that I have ever been taught that, which has lead me to consider the pencil method. Would I see a difference in anything with a higher end trumpet?
    The pencil exercise is good. Consistent proper daily practice on the horn is way better.
  4. Ed Lee

    Ed Lee Utimate User

    Aug 16, 2009
    Jackson NC
    I'll reiterate what has been stated many times here on TM ... age is not a factor ... I'm evidence of such at 77 yo and am acquainted with several players older than me.

    It just comes to my mind that your old LeBlanc 707 sonic may be long overdue for a cleaning and check by a competent brass instrument repair technician.

    IMO those who say so little or derogate the "pencil & button" embouchure strengthening technique simply know so little about them ... and obviously don't do the time on them, which like practicing the instrument, won't improve without the time practicing. Personally, I don't like to stick an unsanitary pencil or button in my mouth. Your lips are muscles that can only be developed by exercise / practice. The technique is resistance mode. Long ago, advertisements appeared in many magazines and comic books to develop the whole body muscular development by "Charles Atlas", but I believe it was the USAF that first coined such called "isometrics". Believe me it works! Well, for hygiene I personally use P.E.T.E. (Personal Embouchure Training Exerciser) by Warburton USA, and honestly I do not believe they make the "resistance" factor clear in their instruction. To illustrate, stand in your home doorway and extend your arms against each side an attempt to make the doorway wider. Of course, you can't, but you'll feel the resistance. [ Ed.- I disavow any financial interest in Warburton USA ]
  5. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    If you decide to get rid of the Leblanc 707 (which was built by Courtois in France) let me know. I might be able to take it off your hands. Were I you, though, I would keep it. It is a fine horn. Like they say at Nike, "Just do it" and your playing will improve.
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Tom, was that Schilke 14 comfortable? I can't imagine that a mouthpiece like a Schilke 14 could hold you back that long. I never said to only try a Schilke 14, or to find something to stick with and that would be the end of it, but simply to find something that isn't too wide, isn't too narrow, nor too shallow, nor too deep - something in the middle that works ok and is comfortable.

    I've seen waaaay too many people jack themselves up on a needless, useless, expensive mouthpiece safaris when 95% of their problems could probably have been resolved with an additional 30 minutes of insightful practice. Sometimes it IS the player - not the equipment. Keep in mind, I'm not a teacher, so I'm not coming to it from that approach, but I am coming to it from my own perspective and observations. Most of the time I jumped off the cliff and tried something out there in terms of mouthpieces, it didn't get me anywhere that I wasn't aleady. I've done a lot of years of playing on relatively few horns and relatively few mouthpieces, and why? Because they get the job done, and rather than looking for a piece of equipment to try to make things perfect, I'd rather spend my time resources working to make myself better.

    Great equipment is nice, but it's not absolutely necessary - at least not at my level.
  7. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    Sure, it was comfortable but I couldn't play it worth a crap. Still probably can't. When I stumbled over a Giardinelli 10C, it was a night and day difference and my teacher was very impressed on how my playing was instantly a LOT better.

    And what makes you think a Giardinelli 17M doesn't meet those criteria? 0.610" diameter and a medium bowl cup. While that's not strictly "the middle", it's not extreme, either.

    I tell you, the piece I was playing on before the Giardinelli was 0.630" with a sharp rim and I asked both my teacher and Charlie Melk if it was extreme and both of them said... no. Play it. If it works for you, great, and ignore the people on the forums. I did play it and took many lessons with it and didn't contemplate a change until I felt it was holding me back. I was right.

    As an aside, the Giardinelli 10C is 0.640" and a rounded rim. Whatever that combination of backbore and throat is, it works so well with my setup that it is frankly amazing.

    My point is that blindly telling someone to toss their mouthpiece and horn is irresponsible, especially when it's not all that unusual. Sure, his 17M is on the smallish size, but maybe he has thin lips like me and, I don't know, it actually fits.

    That's an evaluation best left for his new teacher.

    Sorry to pick your post to rag on but I've had a lot more bad advice from forums than good advice; I don't even bother paying attention to a lot of it any more. I'll stick with the guys who know me and my horns, my friend Eric Sperry, Charlie Melk, and my teacher, Prof. Kevin Hartman.

  8. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    I second the therapeutic advice of my medical conterpart. Consistency in practice is the best way to go. And the first rule of consistency to stay proficient is to practice every day. That and taking a daily aspirin, and call TrumpetMD in the morning. Hey, he recommended this first! By the way, welcome to TM.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Where to begin....

    Did I even begin to tell him to ditch his mouthpieces? No. I simply said, "find something middle of the road in terms of size that's comfortable and stick with that." I'll stick by that statement. I don't know how Giardinelli sizes their mouthpieces so I don't know if it's big or small, and the 7C is definitely middle of the road, but the underlying theme to what I said - the intent behind it - was to not waste time looking for a magic mouthpiece, and to instead stick with something that is comfortable, fairly easy to play, and hit the woodshed. I don't know what's going on in your playing, but in my experience, I've never experienced a flat-out night and day difference between mouthpieces in terms of what I can or can't execute on the horn. Then again, even my 14A4 isn't in the extreme range either, and that's the most extreme of anything I have ever used.

    Regarding the horn, I didn't tell him to ditch that either - I simply said that a new instrument can inspire a greater level of interest in getting in the practice room and doing some playing, and that if he had the money, to consider it. I'll stand by that statement too. There may not be a single thing wrong with the old horn, but there's definitely nothing wrong with a nice new horn either. I used my son as the example to illustrate the point - there wasn't anything wrong with the guitar he had, and in fact, he still uses it on occasion. However, the Les Paul provided him crucial inspiration that he took into the practice room, and it springboarded him to a whole other level of ability.

    Go back and read what I wrote and try not to infer the worst - you may just get a different vibe from it on a second go-through - kind of like sight reading.

    Tom, I think that if you were go back through my posting, both here and on the TH, you'll find pretty much nothing from me that's "out there" in terms of advice. I have always taken a very straightforward, common sense approach to the horn. When it comes to mouthpieces, I've always been an advocate to finding something that works and to stick with it - I am NOT an advocate of mouthpiece safaris or jacking your gear around in an effort to find a solution that would be better found with additional time in the practice room.
  10. jiarby

    jiarby Fortissimo User

    May 7, 2011
    If you become a consistent practicer you will become a consistent player.

    If you really learn how to practice you can become a great player.

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