Is sound a gift or can it be perfected?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Tarter_trpt8, Feb 14, 2005.

  1. Tarter_trpt8

    Tarter_trpt8 Pianissimo User

    Jan 17, 2005
    St. Paul, MN
    Ok here's the deal:

    My question is exactly the title of this post, "Is sound a gift or can it be perfected?"

    Some people are born with a beutiful, huge, dark sound, but other's have a really bright one, or then there is the inbetween person like me who's sound isn't bright but not huge. I hear in my head what I want to sound like and it is engraved in there. I know how I want to sound. I listen to you at orchestra hall as often as possible, I have tons of Phil Smith recordings, Hersith, Shlueter (however you spell that), Brian Brown. I mean all of these guy's I admire so much. I've been told that what I hear is different from what the audience hears. If that is true, then what should you listen for? What do you listen for?

    Sound is one of the key factors in winning a job; so how do you get there? How do you go about working on your sound to get it huge, aside from equipment....much appreciated answer if possible....

    Jeremy Tarter
  2. Bear

    Bear Forte User

    Apr 30, 2004
    yes please, someone answer... This could be good.
  3. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004

    Boy, you folks are really coming up with some knockout questions today!

    Let's go to one of my typical sports analogies. Take two basketball players of equal ability. One player is 5' 11" and the other is 7' tall. Even though they have equal abilities the 7 footer has an advantage in height. He will win a one-on-one game between the two.

    Now, let's say the shorter guy is faster, smarter and better coordinated than the tall man. Whom are you going to put your money on?

    Some people are born with a more efficient central nervous system and a rapid, coordinated technique when they play trumpet. Some people have huge tongues and if they don't use lower vowel will not have a great symphonic sound. However, that person might wind up being an ace scream trumpeter in a Maynard's band.

    Some people may have gorgeous teeth good for modeling but may not be suited to great trumpet playing. Others, like me, might have teeth that are relatively crooked but have enhanced endurance and upper register and vice versa.

    You can never hear what the audience hears. It's physically impossible for you to be in two places at once. You can, however, judge the quality of your phrasing and musicality. You can tell a pleasing tone from a raspy one. You can feel resistance and you can feel openness. The bottom line is whether a horn permits you to sing just as you do with your voice. No kidding, that's the bottom line. That's one of the reasons I hate to see young people playing excerpts so early and I dislike that too many summer Orchestra Festivals require high schoolers for as many excerpts they do these days for auditions. Younger ones need to learn to play musically earlier.

    Trust that you sound good, Jeremy. Let yourself develop slowly. There's no rush. There's no need for you to sound like anyone else but yourself. Go ahead and imitate the great players, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's a good thing. But don't worry about who you sound like, worry about what you sound like and you'll sound like the great players.

    Good luck,

  4. JackD

    JackD Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 30, 2003
    Manchester / London
    Manny, you said that by the time you went to Julliard you already had a great top end and endurance. Would you say that that was just natural for you, too?

    I ask as someone who is going to college without a great upper register.


  5. BflatAnklan

    BflatAnklan Pianissimo User

    Jan 28, 2005
    Midwest area USA
    Some people just have good sounds, but for those who don't, there are TONS of way to improve your sound. One way is kind of reminicent of the Bel Canto school in that you can model your sound after someone you admire. Some good examples are:

    Maurice Andre
    Adolph Herseth
    Gerald Schwartz
    Chris Gekker
    Thomas Stevens

    Louis Armstrong
    Cootie Williams
    Fats Navarro
    Clifford Brown
    Booker Little
    Lee Morgan
    Freddie Hubbard
    Clark Terry
    Kenny Wheeler
    Terrence Blanchard

    Doc Severinsen
    Vince DiMartino
    Wyton Marsalis
    Allen Vizzutti
    Rafael Mendez
    Arturo Sandoval

    You might even be influenced by players on other instruments or vocalists!

    Your sound can also be changed by the equipment you use - mouthpieces more than horns. Deeper mouthpieces help to produce more lower overtones (darker) and shallower mouthpieces will help produce more higher over tones (brighter).

    In the end, you will sound like you, but having a good idea of how you WANT to sound will always be at your advantage. I strongly encourage players to make long tones a part of their regular practice. Then again, everything you play can be a tone study!

    If you are totally lost and don't know what to do, thy this.

    Go into a practice room, or where ever you practice, and turn out all the lights and shut your eyes so there are NO visual distractions. (Make sure you know where your chair is so you don't get hurt!) Let yourself become adjusted to the darkness and clear your mind of ANY non-musical thoughts. Next, begin to play some SIMPLE music - something where you can really hear your sound! Don't think about your fingerings, your articlations (yet), just focus on your sound. You will be amazed at how much more aware of your sound you will be when you are in the dark! Try lipping the pitch around a little bit, notice where your sound rings the most and where it dosn't. Try playing in that "ring zone" all the time. Eventually your body will memorize that feeling and playing with that great sound will become second nature.

    It's also fun to play in a totally dead room and work out all the fuzzy stuff in your sound, and the go into a larger hall and listen to how much more amazing your sound is!

    Enjoy - sorry about the long post!!!
  6. Veldkamp

    Veldkamp Piano User

    Mar 29, 2004
    the Netherlands
    A lot of players with a poor sound forget to blow through the horn, they blow to softly in the horn. Good air support is very important to get a bigger sound. The lips must be trained to resist the extra air pressure.

    If you want to hear what good air support can do, listen to Maynard.
  7. kjt

    kjt New Friend

    Feb 18, 2005
    Woodbury, MN

    I see that you live in St. Paul. Phil Norris teaches at Northwestern in St. Paul and has written articles for ITG and given lectures on what we hear versus what the audience hears. Since you're in the neighborhood, maybe a visit to Phil would help you here.

    The difference between what we hear and what the audience hears can be pretty dramatic and also depends a lot not only on the individual player, but on the room you're playing in.

    I have never been happy with my sound. To my ears it's always too bright no matter what equipment I am using. But, I have been told countless times by others that this is just not the case on the other side of the bell and that I sound much better than I think i do. Play with a centered pitch, keep that air moving and rely on the fact that you don't hear what they do and there's a good chance your sound is better than you think it is.

    I remember a church gig a few years ago where I started to walk away afterwards with my head hung low. I knew that I had played well, but felt as if I sounded like a laser beam the whole time and was very disappointed by that. The organist (who in this case was someone I really trust) caught me at the door on the way out saying, "Man, what did you do? You always sound good, but today your sound was incredible. Wow!" That was the day I started to put some faith in leaving it to the listener's ears and not mine.

    Good luck -keith
  8. Still Trying

    Still Trying Pianissimo User

    Nov 23, 2003
    Lake Jackson, TX USA
    Considering the caliber and quality of players, who post on this site, I am a little reticent to state an opinion, much less give advice. But here goes. For one thing you have to work on your tone each and every time you play a note. I sit in front of a full length mirror most of the time to practice-not to watch myself in the mirror, but because the mirror reflects my sound right back into my face. It's a harder surface, and works better than playing into a wall or into an open room. It enables me to hear better what I sound like on both sides of the horn.

    Now I don't really know too well how to describe this next part. I know what I'm doing when I do it. I just don't really know how to explain it so somebody else can do it. But I try to expand the range of overtones on each side of my pitch center for every note. I consciously try to expand the range of overtones higher than my pitch and lower than my pitch. And I try to do that for each note I play whether it's a high note, low note, loud note, quiet note, long note, or short note. And if I don't like what I hear bouncing back at me from the hard surface of that mirror, I slow it down, pay more attention to my note centers, do something. But I try to adjust what I'm doing to make my sound become what I want to hear. And I like a vibrant sound, as opposed to a bright one-one that sounds like it has a life of its own. Remember that commercial a few years ago that referred to chewing gum as having a "burst of flavor"? Well, I like a sound that provides a "burst of flavor" for the ear. As you can tell, my musical concepts borrow a lot of imagery from other senses, besides hearing.

    Now my sound concept has come from listening to recognized artists through the years, and some artists, who weren't recognized very far from their circle of acquintances and students. But they were artists nontheless. But even then I sound like me. I don't sound like anyone else-just like Mario Lanza didn't sound like Caruso, even though he learned to sing by singing along with Caruso records as a kid. And I can't imagine anyone actually wanting to sound like someone else. I understand wanting to have the same quality of sound as someone else, but we're all just built a little differently than everyone else. It's logical that we sound different. Lanza did not sound the same as Caruso, but he sounded as good.

    While I'm confessing, I listen to artists, who don't play trumpet either. As you can probably already guess, I listen to opera singers a lot, because I want to be able to do on trumpet what they do with their voices. My favorite singer right now is Josh Groban, because I can apply what he does with his voice to what I want to do on trumpet.

    But yes you can work on and improve your sound. You can make it more vibrant, bigger or fuller, more responsive, and more expressive. You just have to give the little guys as much attention as the long ones. And yes, I guess one of the major factors, is to bring the right amount of breath support to each and every note. I consciously picture little toy sail boats on a wide swimming pool. And I'm trying to blow the little boat all the way across the pool with every note. I used to play symphony in an auditorium with two balconies. I used to visualize playing from the back center of the stage and blowing one of those little sail boats all the way to the back of the second balcony, while I was playing ppp. In my mind I would follow it floating through the air all the way to the back wall. Come to think of it, I still do that. It's what they call in tennis or golf "follow through". In tennis you don't stop your racquet when you hit the ball. You keep your racquet head moving in the same direction you want the ball to follow even after the ball is no longer in contact with the strings. Without that follow through, the ball just bounces off the strings and might go anywhere. It's the follow through that allows you to place and control the ball. That's the mental image I follow, when I'm trying to produce the right air support for the sound I want. The air flow lets me control and place the note where and how I want it. If I just tap the note with my tongue, I don't control it, and I don't know where it is going.

    These things work well for me, and I hope I have said something to help you. I certainly don't wish to confuse you.
  9. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    S.T.- WOW. You are the hero of the day. Go man, go! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
  10. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    Excellent, excellent, excellent.


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