Position of music stand when seated to play

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Bizsmom, Oct 10, 2010.

  1. Bizsmom

    Bizsmom New Friend

    May 14, 2010
    North Georgia
    First off...I've searched and searched and haven't found anything on the forums regarding this...but if I've missed it I do apologize and hope you will point me in the right direction for some answers.

    I have to be seated to play in our church orchestra. We play in a large room with HORRIBLE acoustics while we are raising money to build a sanctuary. I've recently returned to playing the trumpet after playing the euphonium. When playing euph...I position my stand pretty high (bell is straight up) so that I can sit up straight and just see the conductor over the top of my stand (I'm in the back row so this doesn't interfere with anyone). Helps me (in my advancing years) to be able to see the music without using the bifocal section of my glasses which creates havoc when I'm glancing up and down to see conductor & music.

    However, with the trumpet, if I raise my stand AND hold my trumpet AND sit up proper and straight...the bell of my trumpet is blasting straight into the music stand. This morning, I tried moving the stand a little to the side but the only result with that was that the sound from my trumpet went floating off into the vast acoustic wasteland and I couldn't even hear myself play (sounded to me like I was muted....it was that bad). I'm not a good enough player to play confidently without being able to hear myself to make sure that I am in tune with my section mates, not too loud, etc. My daughter (sitting in front of me) and the conductor both said that I sounded fine but I absolutely couldn't tell. When I moved my stand back in front of me, then played, I could hear myself just fine. So that made me think that the stand, while helping me hear, is probably affecting the way the audience hears the sound from the trumpet.

    So what is the best way to approach the position of the music stand...or does it even really matter?

    Thanks friends!
  2. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    I like to put the stand high enough so that I can see the conductor from the waist up but so that I'm not looking down at the music. One thing that I do is put the stand as for in front of me as I can and still see the music. I use reading half frame glasses that way I can look over the glasses to see the conductor. By putting the stand put in front I let the sound have room to expand in the room. You don't need it close enough so that the sound bounces back at you. If the acoutics are bad it's bad for everyone.

    I find that music stand position is often an overlooked subject. I do think it's important and I teach my students about proper stand height.
  3. stevesf

    stevesf Piano User

    Jun 23, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Yes it does matter and what the audience hears is the final goal.
    Do what you need to do to give your audience/listeners/self the best you have to offer...
    Prepare yourself so the music on the page is only a reference
    You are playing trumpet....everyone will hear you.....get used to that fact and embrace it...there is no hiding .
    As for personal feed back of what you are playing...some compromises may be needed to take to give your audience the best sound you have to offer.

    I suggest that you use the music stand only as a reference...
    It is home base only as a reference to where you are going.
    If you already know the way, you can then enjoy the journey.
  4. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    Bizsmom, it takes a while to realise that even though you can't hear yourself doesn't mean you are playing out of tune. My band director has always said to me "assume you are playing in tune, if you aren't I will tell you". There is a further element to this - I believe that you will hear yourself out of tune more readily than you will hear yourself in tune - seems a bit odd, and I understand your angst - be bold, play as if you are always spot-on, learn to believe in self. Ask yourself - "do I play this out of tune in practice?" - if not, you're very very likely to be perfectly fine.
  5. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

    Jun 11, 2006
    South Salem, NY
    I strongly disagree, especially with an inexperienced trumpet player. The audience hears what the player has created. If the player is uncomfortable and is not getting good feedback, he is certainly not going to be playing out freely. He may play strongly, but that would be pure bluster.

    Feedback to the player is, in my opinion, the most important criterion in trumpet design and playing - without clear tactile or aural feedback, the player is encouraged to treat his instrument like an inanimate machine (e.g. synthesizer)
  6. krmanning

    krmanning Pianissimo User

    Apr 18, 2009
    Fayetteville, NC
    The bifocal glasses and stand position were giving me a fit, too. The answer for me was a pair of glasses just for playing.

    I took a music stand and some sheet music to the optometrist and got fitted for an inexpensive pair of glasses that focuses perfectly at my preferred music stand distance.

    And, as an extra benefit, the conductor is always a bit blurry.
  7. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

    Oct 18, 2007
    The Wide Brown Land
    We have one of those too - the kids reckon he's not, but what do kids know? ROFL
  8. Cloud_Strife

    Cloud_Strife New Friend

    Oct 7, 2010
    The position of the stand most defenitely matters. I don't know what to say about the glasses issue, because I just have regular glasses, no bifocals, but you probably want to put your stand to the side, maybe left side, that's how I do it.

    Also playing into the stand makes you sound muted. Yeah you'll hear it, and the person beside you will, but the audience wont get the same sound. My band teacher use to always get on us about playing into the stand.
  9. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I have "music glasses" that eliminate the bifocal problem. If you can see the music OK, move the stand a little farther away. If not, a short cornet sure comes in handy...;-)

    Unless your bell is really close to the stand, I doubt you're losing much volume to the listeners.
  10. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    I agree with trumpetsplus -the player needs to feel somewhat comfortable. That said, I think it is important to find some position so your horn is not stuck in the stand. Most of my "real" playing was done standing, so, with the stand directly in front of us, we always angled the stand at about 30 degrees down from straight up so as to play over it. You were looking slightly down and the horn projecting. WHen seated I always played over or to the side. People were paying to hear you, not have your sound locked behind a stand (this was back before a lot of mics were used).

    All that said, last year my son and I attended a BIG BAND jazz concert at Troy University following an honor band rehearsal (in which he had participated). The band was good, they even had a number of pro professors sitting in -but the trumpet section played straight into the stand and you couldn't hear a thing! Like nonexistent! All one needed to do to improve the band by about 300% was have them play over their stands.

    Anyway, that's my take on it. Others will likely have other ideas.

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