Placebo and the Art of Trumpet playing.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by HeySergei, May 26, 2007.

  1. HeySergei

    HeySergei New Friend

    May 9, 2007
    Hi friends,I am back to contribute to another thread, because i don't feel like I post enough here. Today I'm going to discuss with you my feelings, but I'll get to the point after a brief camio of what brought this thread to life. I had a young man in his mid 20s today take a trumpet lesson with me. He was very talented and very much so a fantastic and confident player, but the passage he played in his lesson was wrong, and I think he knew it. As fantastic of a player as he is, he just didn't have the Jolivet under his fingers yet. We worked on it, and worked on it, and worked on it, no progress. He complained of Technical problems with the slotting on his horn, and countless other problems. I took his horn from him and played a few notes, it seemed fine, so I decided to put some placebo behind the idea. I took out medical tape from my trumpet case, hey you never know right? I wrapped the tape around one of the braces connected his bell to his trumpet, and nailed the passage we were working on, and explained that his trumpet was fixed. He took my word for it, and nailed the absolute snot out of the piece, and more than once too. I removed the tape and had him try again, he failed miserabley and complained about the problems coming back. I explained to him that the tape was a placebo and blushed some and realised that he COULD play it. We played the passage together 10 times perfectly and I decided that his lesson was over. We packed up the trumpets, I gave him back his check, and we walked down to the bar down the street and I bought him several rounds of beer. We covered so many topics over the hours there that I was so refreshing. We talked about everything from Trumpet to gel insoles(are you gellin'?). It was a complete eye opener for that young man, and I am so excited to see the progress he makes for next week, but I digress. I'll get to the point, since I always put some sort of mambo jambo in before doing so. I wish we would stop telling trumpet players that it's too damn hard to do this. Filling them with so much negative views that they get paralysis by analysis. Telling them "No, it's too hard." and "In order to _____ you must _______ while ____ing your ______ and standing on 1 foot on top of a _______ wile rubbing a rabbit's left ear and saying _______ in our heads while breathing in exactly _______ml of air, and going crossed eyed!" I hope my point was made after all of that. Today I'm making a stand to say, let's stop all of this technical analytical crap, and get back to being natural trumpet players, not plastic manufactured jocks. Get some emotion, let those around you be happy to play, and most of all stay disciplined. Every teacher that young man had before me, told him that the Jolivet was too hard for him, he nailed it with no problems. I think as professionals we all have an obligation to remain positive about our art forms, and I believe we have a duty to pass that positive message on to the next generations.Serg
  2. Taylor

    Taylor New Friend

    Nov 12, 2003
    Very nice post Serg. I lean towards agreeing with you, but one thing has niggled at me for many years, and its this.

    Some players are just naturals. They sound great, they are lyrical, fluid and a real pleasure to listen to. And, most of these players had lessons when younger but they when asked how and what are you playing, they come over all glazed because they really dont know how and what, they just do!!

    Some are not and are heavily coached machines and they know exactly what not they are playing, how loud, where etc..

    Most are probably something inbetween. But we tend to note the two extremes. Personally, I'd rather listen to the natural as they are more likely to make the hairs on the back of my neck tingle. I really dont care about the odd duff note! But I can see that some are more impressed by imaculate technique.

    No one way is the right way, but I would like to hear your views on this imotive subject. How do we teach musicians, heart or head? Whats right?

    All the best.

    Andy T.
  3. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    There is a reason there are sports psychologists making a living telling children (and adults) that they can do anything they set there minds to.

    What we don't have is music and performance psychologists to tell us the same. The market for musicians isn't there. However, a sports psychologist can probably add "music performance" to his shingle and make a few more bucks.
    i.e. Dr. Vinny Boom Bah, Sports and Music Performance Psychologist.

    So I think what I am saying is that the really great teachers are music psychologist and are doing the best they can to convince students to overcome the mental and to practice, practice, practice to overcome the physical.
    I have attended master classes at ITG and almost always the master is using the power of positive thinking and his/her carisma to motivate the student to overcome a mental problem and not a physical problem.
  4. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    That's the reason most of the add-on trumpet Voodoo doodads work.;-)
  5. Richard Oliver

    Richard Oliver Forte User

    Jul 18, 2006
    Casper, WY
    Good Juju!


    p.s. I'm surprised I don't own any add on Juju myself. But couldn't resist joining in.

    Sergi, GREAT teaching technique too, and very effective for your student. Way to go!
  6. Taylor

    Taylor New Friend

    Nov 12, 2003
    Post #3. Seriously, I take your point. But doesnt that approach define the 'music' as competitive as apposed to the music 'business' being competitive?

    Deep, or what!.................

    I keep hearing people say 'to many notes, not enough music'. This ethos has to come from somewhere. Is it just bitching from those who cant do it, or others heartfelt sentiments? What do you think?

    I'm glad I play electric guitar. We all know thats not a 'serious' instrument. And it a damn sight easier to play fast to! And louder! and we have to look kool playing it! And just to finish on a more light hearted note, here is a guitar joke for you. How do you get the guitar player to turn down? Easy, give him the dots.

    All the best.

    Andy Taylor
    Taylor Trumpets

    Should add really, for those who dont know. I can play trumpet as well, I'm just not as good at it as you. With or without the voodoo doodads!
  7. HeySergei

    HeySergei New Friend

    May 9, 2007
    Andy, thanks for your feed back. You make fine trumpets, I imagine you're a good player, give yourself more credit. As far as the natural trumpet players go, I think it can be most of us. I'll elaborate on this in a minute.

    I've heard many amazing instrumentalists in this beautiful land, but I have to admit many are just technical athletes. The complaints of "too many notes, not enough music!" are true on so many levels, but we also must learn to encourage them to grow as a musician. If you don't own a recording device, get one and record yourself as you play, and record the lessons for your students. 100 CDs for $10, not a bad buy. Letting them HEAR what they sould like is so unbelievably important. Giving them a copy to take home and review can be helpful more than we know. I wish CD recorders existed when I was in my youth, but that may have been anti-revolutionary.

    So back to the most trumpeters being natural. We have new fangled trumpets, mouthpieces,music,doo-dads, thinga-mabobs, berps, etc etc etc, but one thing hasn't changed in over 300 years. Our lips and the abilities to hear things. Getting what we want out of musicians is as simple as just telling them to do it. If they complain and say they can't, you simply continue to encourage them. There are a few trumpeters that I had who no one would believe in, that are now all over Eastern Europe playing trumpet.

    Now i'm back to try and teach some of the finer students of this nation, and instill in them the same discipline, and passion for music that I have done for my other students. Voodoo doodads don't work, especially those..tweequers, or what ever the hell they're called. Just keep playing trumpet, and breathe easy.

  8. Kent

    Kent New Friend

    Apr 25, 2007
    Vancouver, BC
    What a great issue to raise! As a comeback player who had 12 years of negative or no feedback at all playing for a number of orchestra and band masters, I am now having the time of my life 30 plus years later. The main reason: an enthusiastic instructor who loves the horn, playing and teaching.

    Respect goes such a long way and and having read allot of the posts on TM, I am heartened by the number of folks here who clearly demonstrate that for those they teach and associate with. Cheers!
  9. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Isn't it amazing how well placebos work and how well the older generations have played on "inferior" instruments? I would submit that the apparent lack of musicianship is related to recordings. We can learn our part from the recording and pick up all the aural cues needed to come in at the right spot, then measure our success based on how much we sounded like the recording. If done correctly, playing in an orchestra is just a huge chamber music experience, but most often it ends up being a bunch of people playing their parts--lines won't be passed, articulations won't be matched, intonation is based on our experiences with the tuner at home....
    It isn't entirely a fault of the musicians--our audiences often want to hear a live "recording" in a concert setting--many succesful and talented rock musicians play the same solo every night because that is what their audience demands.
    For me, the art of music is in the making (including taking risks)--the performances are just by-products that we share with those listening in. Maybe that's why there isn't a huge market for Vulgano Brothers.
  10. tromj

    tromj Piano User

    Jun 4, 2005
    Teaneck, NJ
    I have posted this story before, but I will post it again.
    I had been in a rut for a while with my playing, and felt I needed a little push. While travelling overseas, I visited an old teacher of mine and took a lesson. Everything I played, he stopped after two notes and started making adjustments. Now don't get me wrong, every observation he made was correct. But by the end of the lesson, I could barely breathe.
    Back in the states, I ran into Steve Dillon and Ray Mase at the NY Brass Conference. After Steve introduced me, he said, you know, you should take a lesson with Ray. Ray said sure, so we made an appointment.
    When I got to Ray's apt., he told me to play something I had been working on. So I took out a vocalise and started playing. As I went on, I tried playing as musically as possible. Ray did not interrupt me. After I was done, Ray said quietly, "Bravo,man" and gave a little clap. He let that sinkk in for a few seconds, and then very gently said, "Now, there are one or two spots in there that we might want to look at." We worked on that, and then enjoyed the results. After that, we took out Charlier #1. After a few minutes of that, he stopped me and said, "Don't hold back! You can play this! Just blow!"And then played a bit to show me what he meant.
    I picked up the horn and went right at it. What a difference! By the time I walked out of there, I felt ten feet tall and was back on track.

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