The Story of Your Trumpet Journey

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by neal085, Dec 9, 2014.

  1. neal085

    neal085 Mezzo Forte User

    826
    795
    Sep 6, 2012
    Ft. Worth, TX
    I saw a post on another thread by Patrick, briefly referencing the development of his chops and some range milestones, and was immediately grateful for the insight on the time it took him to develop, since I occasionally feel like I'm just treading water or even going backwards.

    So I'm very curious to hear from others about your personal journey, starting maybe with your first student horn and 7C mouthpiece to where you are today, including your milestones and accomplishments along the way - the development stages of your range/chops/tone, where and with whom you've played, and any notable performances or recognition.

    Mine's short and easy. Back in spring/summer of 2012 I was trying to figure out how to productively use my lunch hour to develop a skill or ability. I've played with sleight of hand magic my whole life and play several sports for recreation, but I thought the first pursuit a bit juvenile, the second one rather impractical, and both of them somewhat pointless in the context of dedicated practice time. I had played trumpet for a few years in Middle School and, being an avid music-lover, decided I wanted to jump back in with both feet.

    So around July/August I finally dug out my Yamaha student horn and gave myself a 2-month crash course in excruciating frustration before signing up for lessons. Shortly after that, I embarked on a mouthpiece safari, which was probably ill-advised, but I'm glad I got it out of the way, and the Stork I ended up with is very comfortable for me and I still like it today. After about a year, I saved up enough to buy a used Yamaha Xeno, and I played that for several months before I found a great deal on a new B&S Challenger II, which I had previously played and thought highly of. So I made the switch again, and am still playing on it today.

    Now, in December of 2014, I've benefited greatly from advice on this forum many times over, from a multitude of sources and perspectives. There is no question that the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Y'all are great.

    About 6 months ago, I unlocked a new standard (for myself) in my tone and the ease with which I can play it, often requiring little or no warm-up. My practical range is usually A-B above the staff, although I've occasionally hit notes much higher than that in practice when the stars and planets line up perfectly. I've noticed that the stars and planets usually line up perfectly on weeks when I get extra practice. Hmmmm.....

    I've performed a small handful of times in public, all church-related, and never for money, but I've enjoyed it immensely. I played for the first time at church in late November of 2012, with a piano and violin accompaniment, and since I'd kept the whole thing a secret from my wife, she was blown away, and we absolutely killed it in the performance (due in no small part to the amazing pianist I was playing with, and my sister's artful violin work). I had people coming up to me for weeks afterwards saying it sounded amazing. Unfortunately, the last time I played, I was playing from memory and had a minor implosion when I forgot about 5 notes. Completely forgot them. Played 5, um, improvisational notes, and created extreme dissonance which was never resolved. My tone was unimpeachable, though.

    I actually practice before or after work these days, and usually hit the gym on my lunch hour, but I'm very happy with my routine.

    Playing the trumpet has been awesome and has produced not a single regret. It has greatly increased my appreciation of jazz and trumpet music in general, and opened up new horizons in what I listen to and enjoy today. Oh, and I got to meet all you good people.

    Soooooo................what's your story?
     
    And3 likes this.
  2. Comeback

    Comeback Forte User

    1,859
    1,044
    Jun 22, 2011
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Interesting idea for a thread, Neal. Perhaps others may find value for themselves if enough of us share our experiences. Yours is an interesting account. Congratulations on your achievements so far.

    My trumpeting journey started as a youngster in in the early 1960s. I was inspired by notables of the day such as Al Hirt, Herb Alpert, and Rafael Mendez. I ended up getting some good instruction, practiced diligently, and enjoyed modest trumpeting successes through high school and a bit beyond. College, work, and marriage took priority over trumpeting, and I eventually sold my original LeBlanc 707 Sonic.

    After roughly 40 years of trumpeting dormancy, a grandson's interest in a guitar ended up re-stimulating my musical interests. Circumstances were favorable for my comeback in June of 2011, so I began and have stuck with it ever since. I have made my share of mistakes along the way, but I have learned from them and continue to improve. TM has been a fun and helpful resource.

    Music for me is a wonderful entirely sustainable hobby. I do not have to drive anywhere to enjoy it. Once the initial equipment investment is made, further spending is minimal and, mostly, entirely elective. It is a great stress reliever. It requires commitment, personal discipline, and continuing education for improvement, which I appreciate. Retirement is now on my horizon. I am looking forward to stretching my musical wings and seeing where they may take me.

    Jim
     
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    6,793
    3,560
    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    Neal, I didn't realize you were an adult player - I thought maybe you were in HS. While it changes things a bit in terms of approach, it won't necessarily speed your development along. There is a certain amount of time that you'll have to put in - I learned that when I started playing drums - it was 5 years before I could listen to a recording of something I'd played without cringing - it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't up to the standard were I wanted it either.

    My trumpet journey started on saxophone when I started band in 5th grade. That was my instrument of choice due to idolizing an older cousin of mine who was, and still is a very talented sax player. My folks had gotten me a nice, used Olds saxophone.

    The truth is, I wasn't really progressing on sax, although the reality is, I really wasn't too far down the path when one of the events to change my life occurred. My sister, who at the time was in 8th grade and battling for 1st chair in the middle school band, gave my parents an ultimatum: get me a new horn and get me off of this beater King cornet, or I quit! We didn't have the money at the time to just get her a new trumpet, so my parents approached me with the idea of me switching to cornet, taking on the King cornet, so the could get the trade-in value out of the sax. She wound up with an early Yamaha YTR 739T.

    5th and 6th grade band were ok. I was a middle of the pack player, usually sitting in the first section, but sometimes back down at the top of the 2nd section. It was in 7th grade where the big even that changed my life occurred. Keep in mind the fact that in my hometown, being in band was just something everyone did - I wasn't in band because I had a burning desire to be a trumpet player, I was in band because 90% of the student body in my dinky hometown went out for band - I was just going with the flow.

    So, 7th grade. Typical of many kids at that age, I often didn't stay on top of things, and preparing the music for the middle school band chair placement audition was one of them. As a result, I tanked the audition and wound up somewhere near last chair out of 15-17 trumpet players. For the next little while, I didn't put a lot of effort into my trumpet playing. Then one day, I decided to be as smart-aleck and tell the band director that I'd forgotten my cornet at home, (in fact, it was on the shelf at the back of the band room) and I was basically just sitting there in the section goofing off when one of the 8th graders ratted me out and got my horn in the middle of rehearsal, embarassing me, and irritating the band director, who instructed me to see him after school.

    After school, the band director asked me why I'd lied about leaving my horn at home. I told him that I didn't feel like playing because I wasn't very good. "Go get your horn," he told me. (Remember, I was the little brother of a sister who was doing quite well on the horn) We went through some music, and after quickly mastering some sections of music with a bit of guidance from him, he said to me, "Pat, you can play - you just don't practice!"

    That sentence changed my life. I started to work harder and really knuckled down and worked at the next chair placement tryout. When the smoke cleared, I moved from near last chair in a section of 15-17 middle school trumpet players, to 3rd, behind an 8th grader and a talented 7th grader. From that point on, I enjoyed the success, and worked to maintain it by staying prepared on any music we had assigned.

    I never had a private teacher - any progress I made with the horn was due to practicing the music we were asigned on my own. Even my own sister didn't really help me much. However, healthy competition is a good thing - I spent my 8th grade year battling my friend Shawn for the right to be 1st chair in the middle school band. I probably held it for about 2/3rds of the year, but at this point I can't tell you who was sitting in the lead seat at the end of that school year - might have been him.

    My next big leap in ability came in my 9th grade year. Jumping from middle school level music to high school level music is a big progression, but a challenge I accepted with gusto. In 8th grade, I pulled a similar thing to my sister - get me a new horn or I quit! Money was a little better for my family by then, and I got the silver Yamaha my sister had been playing, and she got a new Bach Strad. That Yamaha was a WONDERFUL trumpet, and I loved playing it. (I wish I still had it) I think part of the reason that I progressed so much in 9th grade is because of bulk time - the horn was on my face as often as I could get it there:

    7:45-8:15 - in the band room, warming up before 1st period band
    1st period - band rehearsal
    Lunch break - quickly scarf school lunch and run up to the band room to play more
    6th period - split Jazz Band/Show Choir, every other day - I was in both
    After School - I didn't have an after school job, so it was back up to the band room to play for 30-40 more minutes
    Misc. Playing - as often as not, there would be pep bands (which I LOVED!) or I would take my horn home and practice

    I mentioned being in my 4th and 5th year before my range started to open up consistently to 2nd ledger C - those were my 8th and 9th grade years. By the end of my 9th grade year, I was 2nd chair in the band, ahead of everyone but my sister, who was a Senior at the time. (She stopped playing trumpet after high school - hasn't touched it since.)

    10th through 12th grade was a steady progression. By the time I was a junior, I was the best player in the conference, I was going to band camp for a week in the summers in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I was doing regional and All-State honor bands. In retrospect, I find it interesting that I played as well as I did. I never had a private teacher. I had an Arbans book, but I didn't really use it more than occasionally - most of my technique was built through practice of music I had to perform, and thanks to my K-6 music teacher, who is also an accomplished classical organist and was the music director at the local Lutheran Church, (that has a wonderful pipe organ!) I did a lot of performing thoughout my Junior and Senior years of high school.

    As a senior in HS, I took a screening audition for the Army band program, passed, and left for basic training and the school of music during the summer and fall after I graduated from high school. My next big jump in ability came in my first year after I got to my first duty assignment. At that point, my only tasks were to keep my room and uniform neat, be on time, and play my horn. A very simple life, few distractions, and I was surrounded by a lot of fantastic players, all of which helped me to continue to progress. I was in a couple of secondary ensembles - chiefly the big band and brass quintet, and those also helped to push me to be better than I had been previously.

    I've done my fair share of Clarke studies, Arbans, etudes, and technique drills over the years, but a lof of what pushed my ability to be a better player was just getting thrown in it - sink, (and in the Army that gets you in trouble) or swim and come up to the level where you need to be. I swam.

    And that's pretty much it. I'm not a wonderful player - I still have some chops issues that are always going to limit just how far I can go with it, but I've gigged steadily for over 25 years at this point, and through that time I've gone through some ups and downs in my abilities as a player. I've done a little bit of a lot - solo work, concert band, big band, brass quintet, Latin band, a very little bit of studio work, (nothing professional level) and my current gig with the upscale wedding band, playing horn lines to everything from swing and 50s doo-wop, to current hits. I go where the gigs are, and I've got no regrets with how I've pursued music throughout my life.
     
  4. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    8,220
    7,625
    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Started playing cornet in 6th grade around 1963 - King Cleveland.

    Played in the junior high band for 3 years - same cornet. Was a bottom-dweller and was told by the band teacher I'd never be any good on the trumpet. He encouraged me to switch to baritone or tuba.

    Stuck with trumpet through high school - got a Conn 6B Victor trumpet in my junior year. Progressed to 3rd chair my senior year.

    Went to a small university in 1970 with no music program other than voice. Played an occasional quintet gig, but hung it up due to limited playing opportunities and no motivation.

    About 1978, saw a story in the newspaper about a local concert band, dug the trumpet out from under the bed, and started playing with them. Practiced pretty hard and progressed past my high school playing level and became solo trumpet there.

    Auditioned for an opening for 3rd trumpet with the local symphony in 1983 and made it. Bought a Bach Strad C trumpet. Eventually sold the Conn 6B and bought a Bach Strad Bb trumpet, too. Played with the symphony 5 years and resigned due to politics and boredom with the whole scene. Played a lot of pit orchestra and Easter/Christmas gigs during this time, too.

    After quitting the symphony, all the other gravy gigs dried up quickly. I suppose the status opened a lot of other doors... Anyway, I joined a local quintet, we added a percussionist at my suggestion, and in a few years morphed into a Civil War band after seeing all the possible opportunities there. We eventually acquired period instruments and uniforms and were on our way. I eventually bought a circa 1870 Henry Lehnert SARV cornet to use.

    Was invited to fill a spot in a local big band at about the same time. I had little experience with this type of music, but as I became more comfortable with it, it was a lot of fun. Somewhere along the way, I bought an Olds L-12 flugelhorn. I eventually became lead trumpet in that band, but we played relatively easy charts...I'm no screamer. While playing in that band, I also played 3rd and 4th trumpet in another local big band through the 1990's. It was a much better band...;-)

    Moved to a church with a large music program and orchestra and began playing there (still do). A brass band formed in town in 2001 and I was invited to be a founding member. Had an Olds Ambassador cornet at the time (had bought it in a junk store for $12.50), but soon realized it wouldn't do the job in a good brass band. Sold one of the nicer trumpets I had accumulated and bought a used Bach 184G cornet. I stopped playing in the big bands around this time.

    So, for the past 10+ years, I've mainly played in church, in the Civil War band, and in the brass band, with an occasional sub job in a few big bands and a German band. Although I don't like to, I sometimes play weddings, but I do so only as a favor to people I know.

    In reflection over the past 50 years or so, I think my junior high band teacher may have been right.
     
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    6,793
    3,560
    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    Clearly, it's obvious that all of those people who asked you to play were just being masochistic, and wanted you to hurt their ears. :D
     
  6. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    18,129
    9,305
    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    I started on the Hammond B 3 at age 7 and started playing in night clubs the same year. Heard a trumpet player accompany me on one gig and loved the sound so soon started the trumpet - Enter my Ambassador and the Bach 10 1/2 C mouthpiece.

    Started then taking classical music at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of music, with Eugene Blee, Principle Trumpeter with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra - Enter my Olds Recording that really sung on classical pieces and of course the Bach 10 1/2 C mouthpiece.

    During college, I had to pay my way, so started playing Rock music with a brass band (ironically, initially on the Hammond M organ) than quickly switched over to trumpet in that band - Enter my Getzen Eterna fluglehorn and the Getzen 3 mouthpiece.

    A member in my Rock Band talked me into playing jazz and I switched over from classical to playing in UC's Jazz Ensemble under direction of Frank Brown.

    Soon took off to Grad School and Scored the lead trumpet position in Colorado State University's first band, The Statesman. Continued on the same horns but met Maynard during those years and he introduced me to the Jet Tone Studio B. So I switched over from my Bach 10 1/2 C.

    Many years passed and I continued on the same horns. Moved to NYC and played with the Nine Lives' Jazz Ensemble (9 piece little big band), the Blue Brain (sextet with vibs) and took 18 months of trumpet lessons with Claudio Roditi. Then moved to Cleveland to play in Jazz Bands, then back to Southwestern Ohio where I played with several ensembles over the years finally ending up with the Eddie Brookshire bands (Jazz Orchestra playing lead and 2nd trumpet; and his quintet).

    Finally joined TM and you guys then sent me on a horn buying spree, and all your input (after filtering out the noise) led me to a MOST EXCELLENT collection of trumpets and mouthpieces. Now I play mostly my Martin Committee - loaded onto the Gustat Heim G2 mouthpiece, and my Kanstul 1536 four valve flugelhorn loaded onto the Flip Oakes WT3 mouthpiece. I play my Olds Super Recording for Big Band lead work loaded onto my trusty Jet Tone Studio B. Would love to exchange the lead horn to the Harrelson SWE Summit but that's for another time... Apparently.
     
  7. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    8,188
    1,914
    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    How could you stand that toy?

    Especially after the B3?
     
  8. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    8,220
    7,625
    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I've probably hurt my share of ears...

    But, it's probably a case of my reality falling short of my aspirations. After all these years, I should be a better trumpet player than I am.
     
  9. gmonady

    gmonady Utimate User

    18,129
    9,305
    Jan 28, 2011
    Dayton, Ohio
    I know. It was a beater. It belonged to the band and I was not going to use my Hammond for the amount of brutal usage that organ endured!

    You did note that I quickly switched over to the trumpet position in that band, and playing the M was one of the reasons. I do have to admit, with that Leslie Speaker, the M did sound good on the Blood Sweat and Tears tunes we played, but it was a birch playing Lou Soloff's lines while pounding out chords on the Hammond M.
     
  10. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    8,188
    1,914
    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    The Leslie really helps!

    My wife has a "D" and a Concorde and we have both hooked up to two leslies!

    It really cranks when you're playing the D with one Leslie and then add the second Leslie!

    What a wall of power!!!

    People should experience and tube Hammond with one or two Leslies and a competent player!
     

Share This Page