Range before tone

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Kantza, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. Kantza

    Kantza Pianissimo User

    May 28, 2012
    Yes, to you they are identical, but a lot of teacher don't know as much as you do... (not being ironic).
    I've never heard my teacher talk about a "big relax breath", and body tension (besides throat tension). But that asides.

    Range would not be the top 5 topic amongst trumpetplayers if we all had the correct basics (and maybe a good teacher who can spot bad habbits etc).
    But most people just don't have the correct basics, and are being held back by bad habbits.
  2. gordonfurr1

    gordonfurr1 Forte User

    Aug 2, 2010
    North Carolina
    And bad HOBBITS, too.:D
  3. FireandAir

    FireandAir Pianissimo User

    Aug 12, 2014
    As a beginner, I can see why range is sort of the low-hanging fruit. It's a bit like intonation-versus-bowing in a string instrument, at least that's how it feels to me. Intonation is something that's more of a beginner's concern. Not that everyone isn't concerned with it, but it's the first thing you want to pay mind to -- playing in tune. Getting the notes. After that, bowing is a lifelong thing; you spend the entire rest of your life working on bowing and tone. On a brass instrument, it feels the same. I want to just get the notes at first ... because I'm already going to spend the entire rest of my life working on making a pleasant sound. As hard as I'm finding it to learn to do this, to me as a beginner, range is just the low-hanging fruit. (It's also a little annoying because I'm used to 7 and a quarter octaves for gods sakes; having to work so hard to get one stupid octave is irritating.)

    Just a beginner's perspective on why range is more attractive as a first goal -- probably as flawed an idea as any beginner would have, but there it is.

    ETA: Actually, this is misleading. I'm thinking more about how I'm approaching this, and it's a leapfrog sort of thing. Get a good couple notes under my belt, then work on making them sound good. Get a decent octave under my belt and sit there for a while, and work on good tone. I'm finding myself sort of alternating between adding a few higher notes, and then sitting there while they get comfortable and making them sound nice. so to this beginner at least, it's not range-then-tone, more like:

    1) Range
    2) Tone
    3) A little more range
    4) Tone
    5) A little more range
    6) Tone
  4. richtom

    richtom Forte User

    Dec 7, 2003
    There are just too many bad teachers out there. "Let's get those kids in the marching band and scream away". They don't know the fundamental basics and therefore can't teach them. I was always taught sound first, range second.
    Good sound and an eventual good range go hand in hand. Both come from proper function of air and body usage. Having a brain in your head helps, too.
    Rich T.
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I think that when the OP says "teachers," what they are really trying to say is "band directors." If the latter is true, then it can be attributed to one of a couple of things.

    1.) the directors, in spite of being taught in college what normal ranges are for trumpet, don't understand that developing players don't always have it, and they mistakenly think that all it takes is to encourage the student to try harder. Unfortunately, that's often detrimental to the student.

    2.) The directors have chosen certain pieces for the band to perform, and choose them without fully considering the capability of the players who will be performing them. The end result of that, is that they push their students for the higher notes because those notes are essential to the parts that make up the music.

    In the case of #1, I once worked on a volunteer basis with a HS jazz band - primarily with the trumpet section, but on occasion with the other sections as well and with the band as a whole a few times. This was a high school that in the past had a reputation for having a really strong band program, and in particular, a really strong jazz band program. However, those days were gone by the time I got there, and I was working with a section of kids where the "lead" player maybe had a high C a few times during a rehearsal, but it wasn't something he could bank on.

    Unfortunately, this particular director, (he was a drummer as his main instrument) was stuck in the past, and continued to have them try to play full-out pro level charts. The lead part on one of them had written Fs in the line, and I would stand next to this kid and double the line. As I've mentioned on here before, I'm solid up to about a D/Eb, and can play notes above that, but I can't bank on them all the time, so while I was hitting the line, it was about 95% - I was missing some of those Fs too.

    They were at a point where they had a concert in about a week, and the band director's attitude was, "oh, Tom can just practice it, and he'll be fine." I argued the point saying that practice was not going to give him range that he didn't possess, and certainly not in a week's time. This came about from me trying to get him to pull that chart out of the lineup at the very least. The director wouldn't budge, and that was the day I stopped volunteering and working with his band. There's a difference between a good challenge and setting a kid up for failure, and I wasn't going to stand by and be a part of setting those kids up for that kind of embarrassment and failure.
  6. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Range is a lot like picking apples.
    You have to pick it before you can polish it.
  7. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Testosterone wants higher, faster, louder. That is why teachers of adolescents have learned to speak this language, or at least pretend that they do.........
  8. 4INer

    4INer Pianissimo User

    Dec 31, 2013
    I'm just speculating here while I remember what it was like being a teenager learning to play the trumpet. And while there may be a modicum of truth to all of the theories as to why, I suspect the reason has little to do with band directors or teachers and a lot to do with the music that young trumpet players listen to. In my case I was listening to Tower of Power, Blood Sweat and Tears, Chase, Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton, and Maynard. It wasn't until I was in college that I started listening to orchestral music and fell in love with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's brass section............
  9. Bay Area Brass

    Bay Area Brass Piano User

    Mar 2, 2007
    San Francisco
    I think we see this for the same reason we see a lot more posts on the trumpet sites asking or talking about playing high notes than we see about phrasing, tone or musicianship.
  10. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    When I started out range wasn't the goal except insofar as I needed/wanted to play Trumpet Tune, and Prince of Denmark's March, which needed a G and A above the staff. After that it was all about tone and endurance, even if not tought properly (I just picked stuff up from my community band mates, and used far too much pressure). For some reason I thought of C above the staff as being a limit above which was unnecessary, and it was called "top C" in my band.

    Just a counter-example maybe.


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