Re-Learning Trumpet & Sight Reading Music

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by ruralist, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    I will admit that a person's mental agility is important here, but I've taught students who were working on learning to read and play quarters and 8ths to transpose. It's a separate but related skill, and a person can always be taught to transpose at whatever reading level they currently have. I don't believe a person has to be reading in Bb at a very advanced level before they can learn to transpose, and my teaching experience has proven me right.
  2. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    Ok, I'm certainly not adamant about it, I am not about to argue with success. I have not had anyone try to teach this to me in quarters and eighths (what are you referring to, not quarter notes and eight notes), My teacher does not have me transpose on the fly (at all for that matter). I can transcribe... But anyway, I struggle enough with site reading that I wonder how it would be possible. Now the bifocal phenomenon might be part os the issue, sometimes everything kind of blurs and I can't tell if I'm looking at a C or an E, but I don't think that's at the root of it. Like how I read text, it's how I learned, but I "hear" each word in my head as I readan so I am sure that slows me down.

    When I read music-at lwast so far, It's as if I tell myself "that's an a, remember it's sharp, that's first valve. Obviously much faster, but you get the ideam. So then I woud be saying in my mind, that's an A, and it's sharp, up one full step, uh a sharp is the same 4 Bb, so, B, C- C is my note. Much faster than you woul read my writing, but much slower than would be feasible in a site reading situation, especially when you add, accented, it's a 16th note followed by an eight note, so the rhythm is... Oh crap, l'm a measure behind.

    Perhaps I simply don't understand 'how' you are teaching your students to do this. I guess maybe I could do this from bass clef as I think on it. A looks like C, yes, But it's A# that becomes C, not A. How are you dealing with key signature/accidentals?

    Perhaps I am just being dense. Would you be kind enough tou outline how you teach this? I'm probably missing on critical detail that pulls it together.

    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  3. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Yes, I am talking about quarter notes and 8th notes, and I teach it as follows:

    1) Figure out the key signature you're looking at and then figure out what the key signature a whole-step higher is and then remember what's in that key signature. Some people teach that you simply add 2 sharps to what you're looking at, remembering that one sharp cancels one flat in the printed key signature.
    2) Look at the printed note and then picture it one line or space higher -- if it's in a space picture it on the next line higher, if it's on a line, picture it in the next space higher.
    2a) if there's a printed accidental (I don't start my students transposing music with accidentals in it) figure out how that affects the printed note and then alter your newly pictured note the same way
    3) play the new notes.

    It is slow at first (same as playing the trumpet is) but with regular practice it becomes easy.

    That is the big solution -- the exact method you use for transposition isn't as important as that you practice it every day to make it easy.
  4. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    Ok, well I get that. I just picture it as extremely slow.

    It boggles my mind that people can transpose to say oh, I want to use a pic in A, or an Eb trumpet, or whatever, and they can do this in their heads. I can understand that using a specific pitched instrument can be easier, or it can have a preferred sound over another, but actually transposing in the head . . . Example: A - B is 1 whole step, but B-C is a half step, you have to keep that in mind while making the adjustments.

    When I took piano some years ago - yes, I began to recognize certain chords as "this is how my fingers are when I see that chord" rather than thinking of the notes, or intervals on the keyboard are physically and visibly there to observe - if you want to move a half or whole step, it's one or two keys - where-ever it lands. Here - oops, I was just going to say you have to know the notes, but that's not absolutely true is it . . if we are moving up a whole step, and the written fingerings are 12, the new fingering is just 2 . . . I may have just realized something - but then I have to think on this a bit because, for example in the lower register we're using 12&3 for C# but 12 in the middle register - I have to chew on this a bit, but . . .

    Now if you have further thoughts on that while I think it over, I'm all ears - uh eyes.
  5. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    It is slow at first. Wasn't playing the trumpet at all slow at first? Think about when you started reading -- it was extremely slow. The difference is that you were a youngster then and were proud of any gain in accomplishment, especially because those around you were so enthusiastic in their praise of your accomplishments, even if it did take you an hour to read a 6 page book with 5 one-syllable words on a page (just kidding.)

    As adults, we've forgotten what that was like, the slow mastering of new skills, and we grow impatient and want results now.

    I teach adults and I teach children, and given my preference I'd take a 6 year old beginner over an adult comeback player any day simply because the 6 year old is delighted just to make any sound come out of the trumpet while an adult comeback player can't figure out why he can't play Carnival of Venice like Wynton after only a month.

    Transposing is simply a reading skill, like others you've mastered in your life. And just like them, you need to work at it constantly, you need to work at it progressively and you need to work at it patiently without worrying about a timetable.

    You also need to keep it simple -- learn to transpose from concert pitch music on your Bb trumpet first. Forget about transposing to Eb trumpet or A trumpet -- just learn to transpose from concert pitch music on Bb trumpet, and then once you've mastered that to the point where you can play correctly an entire work with some complications in it, then you can start worrying about the other keyed trumpets, or transposing from music for other instruments such as horn or alto sax.

    Ultimately, there are only a limited number of pitches you're going to see: 21 if you don't run into double-flats and double-sharps. Each of those written pitches (assuming you're transposing from concert pitch music on your Bb trumpet) will always and ever only transpose to one other pitch. Memorize them, if you don't want to do it the "slow and easy music first" way. You've memorized 21 word vocabulary lists in your life.

    Cb becomes Db
    C becomes D
    C# becomes D#
    Db becomes Eb
    D becomes E
    D# becomes E#
    Eb becomes F
    E becomes F#
    E# becomes Fx (F double-sharp, played like G)
    Fb becomes Gb
    F becomes G
    F# becomes G#
    Gb becomes Ab
    G becomes A
    G# becomes A#
    Ab becomes Bb
    A becomes B
    A# becomes B#
    Bb becomes C
    B becomes C#
    B# becomes Cx (C double sharp, played like D)

    I've just done the hard work for you -- now memorize it and get to work playing the music. :-)
  6. SFPat

    SFPat Pianissimo User

    Sep 20, 2009
    First time I had to transpose was in a church orchestra (a long, long time ago) with instructions similar to what dhbailey has given - simply play one note higher and add two sharps to the key. So I pictured the clef moving up one notch and played and with practice became pretty good at transposing. I also learned the nomenclatures and scales for the common keys which helps in transformations. Now in my comeback, I usually spend about a half hour a day doing transpositions, usually from a hymnal, but find that I sometimes will loose track of where I am (those darn trifocals) and start to play the piece by ear, which diminishes the effect I want to achieve (to practice transposing). It thus demands that I focus on the notes written on the paper which is improving both my sight reading ability and my transposing ability (though if I then play a piece written in Bb concert, I'll automatically start transposing it).
  7. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

    Feb 20, 2008
    That's helpful. All I have to do is memorize . . . Thank you for that.
    I'm really not a sluggard - though it might appear that way - but I am impatient with myself.
  8. ruralist

    ruralist New Friend

    Nov 27, 2009
    Thermalands, California
    Thanks a lot for the insight. It seems everyone is a bit different. I started this thread to gain knowledge and decide how I am going to treat the concert pitch sheet music I have in song books. I had remembered something about this subject 30 years ago. I have studied and played trumpet in the last couple of weeks. The lips are getting stronger and I am not impatient. I practice holding long notes and pedals tones as well. Things are going well and I almost have two full octaves. I am still playing the songs as written in concert key with standard fingerings. I have started transposing songs like Silent Night. I find it easier if I learn the part and then transpose. I play the song slowly and listen for the correct note as well as just reading the music. Then play faster than I would normally. It think it helps capturing the song in both keys.

    I will be learning to transpose from concert key so that I may play along with friends and family who play guitar and piano—no one I know plays anything else.
    I will not be seeking a “C” at this time.
    I will get a pro level Bb trumpet when I get at least a year of practice on the student model I have which is over thirty years old unless a better trumpet falls in my lap somehow.
    I have a practice book which came with a CD and it helps. These were not available when I started. I can now play with a band, simple arrangements but that is all I need at this time.
    Thanks Again for the insight
    This is a great forum.
  9. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Sounds like a good plan. Best of luck.

Share This Page