My confession

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by oldlou, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    As a youth I was not allowed by my very strict religeous father to listen to or play anything but gospel hymns, classical and marches. There was to be no pops, jazz of any variant, bebop, rock and roll, etc. in his home. I am now principal trumpet in one community concert band and utility trumpet in another. The conductors I have played under all have a major complaint with me. I don't enjoy those other forms of music and I am not able to play them well. I can play jazz in a mechanical fashion with no feeling or inflection, which irritates the conductor greatly. I just play the spots as they are written.I use no inflection at all on such music, because I don't like or wish to play it. My conductors don't seem to understand that I have no feeling for these forms of music and can't hear the music in my head. How do I convince my conductors that I would rather sit out whatever jazz selections he gives us to play, rather than listen to him rail at me about playing with no feeling?

  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Speaking as a conductor of a community band, it really bothers me when someone wants to sit out for a particular work. We are in the band for many reasons, not least among them is for our personal satisfaction, and it is for those reasons that if someone wishes not to play on a number, I don't make an issue out of it, I let them do what they want.

    But it still bothers me because of the other reasons bands exist, foremost among them in my opinion is the entertainment of the audience. As a conductor I sweat long and hard making my programming decisions such that they will contain music which will appeal to everybody. I tell the audience (and my band) that everybody will find something they like in our concerts, even if they don't like every piece we play. Most of the time most of the people do like every piece we play, which is why they keep coming back to more concerts.

    If you don't like playing pop music, jazz music, etc. then perhaps you need to find a band which doesn't play such music. There is one about an hour away from me which plays only marches and works published on march size music. There is another one which plays mainly the old band warhorses and doesn't go in for a lot of the modern pop/rock/jazz music. If you look around I'm sure you can find one that plays only music you like.

    Think about it -- if everybody decided not to play the works in the folder that they didn't like or feel comfortable with, how could a conductor choose which pieces to program or know whether he or she would even have a band to play a particular work? A band isn't a democracy, it's a dictatorship. One which hopefully has the best interests of the band at heart, but it's still a dictatorship.

    But the best way would be to speak to the conductor outside of rehearsal, either face to face over a cup of coffee or on the phone, and make your feelings known.

    I am sorry your conductor is railing at your for playing with no feeling. That is uncalled for, to single anybody out during rehearsal and make them feel badly has no place in a decent conductor's toolbox.
  3. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Well Oldlou,
    That is an interesting situation. I am in somewhat the same situation but not because I was told not to listen - I just never had any interest in listening to anything other than classical or broadway musical. So, I too never developed an ear for jazz. I am trying now to learn it. We have several jazz stations here in LA and I listen to them as much as I can and I watch videos on Youtube and others. It is a slow process. I don't know if you still have guilt feelings about listening to jazz and pop but if you do, I would suggest seeing if you can talk to a clergyman or someone who can help you (find one who does not build on the guilt). As a christian, I hope to encourage you that jazz and pop are not necessarily bad and much of it is musically very good.

    I don't have quite the same problem that you have as I play in a community symphony band and so far we have not been doing jazz so I am not in such a "foreign" place. Also, I play 3rd part (still trying to work up my skill level) so nobody pays much attention to whether I play with any feeling as long as I hit the right notes at the right time - all 6 of them.

    In the meantime, if you really are committed to being the best musician that you can be, I would find a colleague that is good at jazz and ask to sit down one-on-one and receive some pointers. A lot of it is just continouous feedback on how you sound so that you can make adjustments and then hear yourself in that new setting. Then you can learn to do it in the concert setting as well. It won't be easy but, I think that you will find it will pay off in the end.
    Good luck.
  4. skankin'dan

    skankin'dan Pianissimo User

    Mar 14, 2007
    Well if you are having trouble learning to like jazz, I have a suggestion.

    To illustrate, a while back I used to be a strictly ska nut, there was barely any music in the world that I would barely consider sort of enjoying. But then I found a song that was a ska/psychobilly. I found it to be very enjoyable, and that got me on the road to psychobilly, which got me enjoying other genres and so on.

    So, try finding a song that has a mix of something jazzy AND classical. My suggestion would be Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. It very well may get you started into jazz.
  5. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    I too, find difficulty with Jazz - I'm not sure that I understand it - oh I can play the notes, it's just that I'm wooden - and improvisation, well it's a bit of a mystery to me - yes I can stay in tune, and I can stay in key, but I don't seem to have any musical imagination.
  6. longhorn747

    longhorn747 Pianissimo User

    Dec 22, 2007
    ComeBackKid has some good advice. I would also recommend that you get some recordings of jazz pieces and LISTEN. Try listening with your eyes closed and try to feel the music.

    I would definately do what CBK suggested to do, I think i will help a lot.
  7. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    You said you're principal trumpet in the one band, so is there an assistant principal who you could swap with for the tunes you have no feel for? If the part is played better, and you're more comfortable, it's win-win.
  8. Bruin

    Bruin Pianissimo User

    Mar 21, 2008
    Lou, if you find "other" types of music ghastly, then move on and focus on playing just the music that you enjoy. Maybe play at one or more churches, and/or perhaps you can find others there with whom you can start a group and stop playing in the community band.

    However, if you don't like playing other types of music only because your community band conductor is causing you so much grief and stress, on top of the stress that playing "other" music (that challenges your sense of self-efficacy) causes you, then perhaps take the other posters' advice and listen to recordings of the "other" music genres and try emulating the sound of the horn players in those recordings; consult the other players in your section, get their feedback on how you're currently playing the music and how you might better capture the styles, etc.

    Nobody likes to play music that causes them to feel incompetent. I just mangled "Take Five" last week during my solo (on keyboard). But, I am resolved to become a more complete player by practicing this 5/4 tune and getting it down.

    Question: When you play your gospel hymns, do you also play "the spots as they are written"? If not, how do you manage to play them musically, with feeling, and in keeping with this style of music? I'm sure you do play it very well. So, how did you learn how to do this? Your answer may give you some insight into how to play other types of music well, too.

    Good luck, Lou.

    Old Herb
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2009
  9. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    To,'hopefully', explain my situation further; I am consitantly praised for my "soulfull" playing of almost all forms of music. My abilities on the technical stuff is of little problem. On the marches and gospel hymns I am complimented for looking and sounding like I am having fun. Jazz runs me nuts. I don't feel the rythm or hear it in my mind. I have to work very hard to just play the spots on the paper in time with the conductor and the rest of the band. The conductor does not understand this, because he is primarily a jazz musician. I have tried to listen to "other" forms of music, when the rythm is syncopated I just lose the flow of the music. It just becomes disconnected noise, not music to me. I don't understand the concept of coming in early on a note or, holding a note in the middle of a phrase beyond its proper value. Arban like variations on most hymns, marches, and classical music come readily to mind as I am playing, and I am careful to not play what is in my head, but, just what is on the chart. I read about jazz improv and the concept just goes right over my head. When I hear it played it sounds like a jumble of racket.

    Perhaps my fathers influence is still, at my advanced age, somewhat directing my thinking. His constant statements were that the only music worthy of the name are those forms that raise the spirit to levels of greater achievement. His particular hate was for Jazz. He claimed, and it is historically correct, that Jazz originated in deep south bordellos and drinking establishments. His statement about this form of music was that it was Demonic, and to be shunned.

    My favorite form of musical performance is the playing in a brass ensemble in one of our local evangelistic 'mega' churches at their hymn sings, and doing solo and small ensembles in the worship services in like churches.

    Since making this original posting, I have directed my thinking on this problem in a very focused fashion. My deduction is that I really don't have a problem. I merely have a different musical taste than some others. I can hand off any solo portions of a chart that I wish to and can fake the rest to satisfy the conductor.

  10. johnande

    johnande Pianissimo User

    Jun 3, 2009
    western Wyoming
    Lou… I tend to agree with you – you don’t have a problem, as evidenced by your success at your age… And don’t feel alone. I think most of “our generation” were taught to play the notes with little if any attention to improvisation, regardless of the genre we played. Over the 60 years or so since you and I learned to play the trumpet, jazz has changed considerably… INHO, when we were learning to play, “jazz” was either New Orleans Dixieland or the closely related improvisation on a theme such as played by Harry, Bunny, Louie, Ray, Bobby, Dizzy, and others. I doubt that those players had nearly the knowledge of music that today’s jazz players have. Subsequently they played mostly what they “felt” and what “sounded good. You might consider experimenting with your jazz performance based on the music you enjoy playing most; ie, older hymns such as Amazing Grace lend themselves beautifully to improvisation, as do many semi-classical and some few classical pieces. With a little luck you might find you enjoy improvising on these old themes (which you apparently like anyway) and might add to your enjoyment of improvisation and jazz in general. There are also several web sites that you can listen to and/or download old blues songs that can give you a feel for improvisation (Google “Honey Where You Been So Long” or “St. James Infirmary”) I would hate to see you make major changes in your successful orchestra/band associations until you have given some reasonable time for serious experimentation with improvisation, regardless of how you choose to do so. (You must be pretty good for an “old” hand)…. (Old) John

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