Student cant get a sound

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by cornetguy, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

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    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    In my brass methods class, I have a student that cant get a sound out. When they are it is thin pinched and in general awful even for a beginner. I am running out of ideas on how to get her to get a better sound. Have worked on breathing, her primary instrument is a vocalist and hacks at piano and guitar. She cant get a buzz on the mouthpiece either. Have suspicion about apature being off, will check that out next class.

    Any ideas
     
  2. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    Is she trying to play with dry lips?

    Do her lips fit inside the mouthpiece?
     
  3. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

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    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    [


    Is she trying to play with dry lips?

    no have made that point very clear to the class on day one

    Do her lips fit inside the mouthpiece? looks like they do, she is pretty thin lipped.
     
  4. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

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    Is she clenching her teeth? External symptoms might include a bunchy looking chin.

    Check to see that she is not rolling her lips inwards. Just have her form the embouchre away from the horn without saying anything beforehand; that way she won't try do do what she thinks you want instead of what she normally does. That'll give you a good visual idea about what she's doing, and allow you to correct accordingly.

    I've seen kids try to "squirt" sound when they make their first attempt. If she can't sustain her sound for any length of time, this may be the case. Have her begin first by proclaiming a loud "Ho!", then replace the word "ho" with a buzz.
     
  5. bandman

    bandman Forte User

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    Welcome to the world of a middle school band director. The difference is that the person who we have who can't buzz is only 10-years-old, and is getting laughed at and teased by the other 10-year-olds who got it right the first time. Having a student who doesn't get it right pretty soon is one of the more frustrating parts of being a band director for beginners.

    Some of these ideas may not be good according to some people, but they have worked for me.

    1) Use a mirror when working with a student who can't get a sound out on trumpet. Let them SEE that that they are not buzzing their lips. With no mouthpiece buzz your lips and show him/her how the embouchure is formed. Then let them try in the mirror.

    2) If you can't get them to buzz at all tell them to flap their lips like a tired old horse, or to make a motorboat sound with their lips. Flapping your lips to make a sound does not make a correct embouchure in any way shape or form, but it does teach them to make a sound by vibrating their lips together.

    3) Once they can flap their lips, making an ugly sound without the mouthpiece, have them do it and slowly move the mouthpiece onto the lips. For lack of a better term it makes somewhat of a farting sound. If you are doing this in private with a young student (you and the student and 1 or 2 good friends) then you might even get a chuckle out of the young student.

    At this point you have accomplished 3 things: You have made a sound by vibrating the lips on the horn (in this case a bad sound is better than no sound), you have broken down the wall of frustration and made the student start to relax, and you have a smile coming from the student. The smile starts to pull the embouchure into a better form, and now that the player is buzzing and relaxed it is usually a matter of a short period of time before you have an E, F and G coming out of the horn. The tired old horse embouchure usually results in a low C.

    4) Your next frustration with this same student will likely come when you try to move onto the next partial series, in most books playing the A, and Bb. If the student had trouble making the initial sound, you should anticipate the problem in moving on to the next set of higher notes, and this may continue for a while.

    5) If all else fails, try having the student buzz on a baritone, or even a tuba. The larger mouthpiece is easier to make the student relax, so it is usually easier to get that initial vibration and first sound. The larger mouthpiece has a set of problem all its own, but the first sound for low brass players is usually much easier than the first sound for trumpet players. If the larger mouthpiece doesn't work, you have a woodwind player, or even worse, a drummer.

    One important note—you will probably be doing this in the real world with a student that you do not know very well. If you do this in private make certain that there are a couple of friends with you in the room. Playing a musical instrument often causes you to get closer, and even touch the face of a young student – it’s part of helping them to play. You are doing it as a professional, and we go about doing our jobs not thinking that this young person has never had an adult get that close to them before.

    Having the friends in the room causes the student to relax, but it also makes the student understand that the closeness of the band director, and the touching of the face, hands and arms is part of playing the horn. You may even want the other student to have out an instrument to so they can see you physically manipulate that student like you might work with them.

    Fears of a student misinterpreting the closeness of a band director may not sound like something you need to worry about, but it only takes one student to misunderstand your mannerisms in the classroom to ruin your career and reputation. We had a very fine band director in Baton Rouge about 10-years ago who was accused of this very thing. He lost his career, and his wife. Another good band director near New Orleans was accused of the very same thing and wound up on the defensive when he had done nothing wrong.

    Never put yourself in the room with a young person by yourself. I even suggest this for private students. Someone else in the room, even if they are just filing music or doing paper work, allows you to relax and do your job.

    I wonder if this is discussed in band methods classes today. When we were young it was something that really didn't need to be discussed, but now days people are lawsuit happy and you need to think about protecting your reputation and your career at all times.
     
  6. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

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    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    Have the student put her mouthpiece in the leadpipe and then remove her tuning slide. Ask her to wet her lips and put the mouthpiece up to her chops. Have her relax and then blow gently. She will most certainly be able to make a sound (the pipe will cause her lips to vibrate). If the sound doesn’t come out right away have her do it several more times, but tell her not to tense anything or try to make a buzzing sound (this tension is harmful to getting an easy sound out of the pipe). The length of the pipe will cause her lips to start vibrating.

    I’ve done this with my little boy and it works every time!

    Put the tuning slide back in and have her play the 2nd line G with the same feel. If it doesn't come out easily, take the tuning slide out and get the lips to vibrate again. It will come with practice!


    Good luck!
     
  7. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    If you could get a video clip I would be able to tell you what her problem is.
     
  8. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    Can she get a note out of a tuba or trombone mouthpiece?

    bandman has some great ideas, try them.
     
  9. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

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    Inapropriate teacher behaviour

    Bandman brought up a rather delicate subject pertaining to being in a room alone with a student. When I was in high school we had a very bad band director. One of the reasons he lost his job with the schools was his desire to have a radical performing marching band. It was destroying instruments at a rapid rate. This was only the tip of the iceberg.
    While giving a private percussion lesson to one of the 15 year old girls in our band she dropped a drumstick. The teacher picked it up and in so doing, pulled her skirt hem above her waist with the drumstick. Another teacher walked into the bandroom at that instant and heard him make a VERY inappropriate remark to the girl, while her skirt was raised. We never saw him in the school again. I happened upon him where he was working as a barber in a downtown hotel barber shop a short time later. He ended up losing his career, marriage, home, and reputation.
    For those of us who teach, it behooves us to behave in a manner that is MOST proper with our students.

    OLDLOU>>
     
  10. bandman

    bandman Forte User

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    You know Lou, I always knew that age had its advantages, and I know that as an old guy I really don't need to worry as much about this problem as much as the young guys.

    Cornet guy is in band methods class so he is probably young and good looking (like I was a lonnnnnngggg time ago). Young band directors have a whole set of problems that us older guys have on a lesser level. I just wanted to make him think about how to go about trying to fix this problem. He said the student is a she and this brings about a whole set of parameters that need to be observed.

    Oh what a strange world we live in today -- we want to get close to our students, but we need to be careful and think about teacher-student relationships at all times. The key is to always act like a professional. Always treat your students in the way you would want your own child's teacher to treat them.
     

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