Learning the trumpet when you have perfect pitch

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by samsplace, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. samsplace

    samsplace New Friend

    Jul 9, 2009
    Can I hijack a little to ask if learning the trumpet as the first instrument would be detrimental to someone with perfect pitch? It has been suggested by more than one person that our five year son likely has perfect pitch. He is now playing the piano as well as the trumpet, but reading this thread has me wondering if he is going to end up confused by having started on the trumpet first.

    I found this to be an extremely interesting topic because it helped answer the question my dh was just asking about our oldest. Her violin instructor recently told us she has perfect pitch and an online test seemed to confirm it. Dh was wondering how perfect pitch would relate to what our daughter hears from the trumpet? How two musically inept parents got the kids that we did is beyond me!
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    There is no problem when you have perfect pitch. Reading anything sets up patterns in our brains. Once we have trained the patterns, the rest falls into place. Perfect pitch does not mean that our bodies are locked into A440 when we see a written A. It means that when the band plays A443, toenails curl.

    Giving a written A the fingering 1+2 is a mechanical process. That creates patterns that become habits. The students that I have had with perfect pitch got along with Bb, C, D, Eb and piccs with no problems.

    The initial problems when first learning an instrument have to do with the lack of available patterns in the head. Using perfect pitch as an excuse, just spoils the fun.

    There is no reason to worry about it.
  3. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Also important to note is that there really is no such thing as "perfect pitch" -- people are not born with A440 as some sort of natural standard. Throughout history the tuning pitch has varied greatly and in European orchestras is pushing A444. What most people call "perfect pitch" is actually "perfect pitch memory" which means that what people are taught first is what they learn and then they can use what they learned first as a reference point for all other pitches. I've heard of people with "perfect pitch" who were born into a house with a piano which was almost a half-step flat and those people were ruined musically for life because they couldn't stand it when they heard an A (for example) which was tuned to A440.

    I wouldn't worry about your son -- if he's enjoying the trumpet and he is able to play the piano also he should be just fine.

    Who are these people who are suggesting that he has perfect pitch? What he may simply have is a terrific ear and a great memory and an ability to match what he has heard on whatever instrument he is using. That is a wonderful talent and I sure wish I had it!
  4. samsplace

    samsplace New Friend

    Jul 9, 2009
    Thanks for the input! And thanks Rowuk, I didn't notice you had separated this from the original thread. Just curious, is a somewhat related hijack question frowned upon TM, or did you want me to have a better chance at a reply?

    His trumpet teacher and a friend with a graduate degree in music that saw his youtube video on Facebook were the two that I can specifically remember. Our daughter's (age 10) Russian violin instructor is the one that told us that she has perfect pitch. Sure enough, when we got home we put her to the test and she could name about any note that we played on the piano (without looking of course). I believe that your description of my son is dead on right now. He has an amazing ear and memory to match what he has just heard whether it was a trumpet or another instrument playing.

    I think I have posted this at TM, but here he is playing the Top Gun Anthem from about six weeks ago. He heard the song on a video game on their iPod. One day I could hear him playing while I was in the shower, but couldn't tell what he was playing. When I got out, he was ready to perform it for me.

    YouTube - top gun anthem

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