tone deaf, so no trumpet career

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by screamingmorris, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    I have finally realized that the ear is just as important as the embouchure in playing trumpet.
    And the difference in our ability to hear separates those who *can* become professional musicians from those who *can’t*.

    I am 51 years old, returned to playing trumpet after a 30 year hiatus away from trumpet, and my embouchure is better now than at any other time in my life.
    For example, I am playing scales up to G above High C.
    Although I would have* loved* to be a professional trumpet player playing high register ballads, I am now aware of a shortcoming that would have prevented such a goal no matter how much I might have developed my embouchure, no matter how many years I might have attended music school.

    I could have developed the world’s strongest embouchure.
    I could have developed my technique and my understanding of music theory.
    But nothing could solve the problem that I am virtually tone deaf.

    I have a beautiful singing voice with a sense of relative pitch.
    If you give me a starting note and a song to sing, chances are I will be able to sing a very nice version of that song, no matter what the starting note is, because my sense of relative pitch tells me where to go from there.
    But I will have absolutely no idea what those notes are that I am singing.
    I have no idea whether I am singing a C or an F.
    I only know that my second note is the proper distance from my first note.

    So when I want to play MacArthur Park starting on B below High C, I must actually play the scale up to that B so that I will know that I am starting on the right note.

    No amount of training in music school could ever adequately overcome that shortcoming of being tone-deaf in the sense of having absolute pitch.
    I hear professional musicians say that Bill Chase was usually flat on his High A’s.
    I don’t have the ability to know that those are even A’s at all unless someone tells me they are, or I get out my little Casio keyboard and start playing the scale looking for the note that sounds like the one Bill Chase is playing (my relative pitch *does* tell me when the two notes match).

    So much about being a professional musician involves things that can be learned.
    Even the ear can be trained to a great degree.
    But many of us are born with inferior ears that could never be adequate no matter how much we might try to train them.
    There is no cure for being tone deaf.
    There is no trumpet career for those who are tone deaf.

    - vintage morris : looks bad, plays bad, sentimental value, make offer
  2. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    If you can sing and have decent relative pitch, then your ears can be trained, and there is no reason to give up ship yet. Sounds like you're not really tone deaf (if you can sing a tune given a starting pitch the you're ok there). Seems to me more like your embouchre needs to learn to do what your ear is telling it to.

    We are all still learning here. We are starting our days at different levels to be sure, but we are each trying to coax out of this long metal pipe the same things you are, and still trying to make it all work.
  3. Tom Mac

    Tom Mac Pianissimo User

    Mar 11, 2007
    Nashville Tennessee
    I second what Glenn says and will add, not all pros have absolute pitch. I would venture that 90% do not and the 10% who do say it sometimes gets in the way. A musician who has relative pitch and has trained him/her self appropriately it is in great shape to pursue their careers.
  4. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    I agree with the above. I think what you need to work on is called slotting.

    I have a book on slotting and it is published by Charles Colin in New York.
    I am sure others will add to this to help you out.
  5. camelbrass

    camelbrass Mezzo Forte User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Dubai, UAE

    Hate to disillusion you but you're just like 99% of us. The best I get is that if I'm playing a lot I can 'remember' concert C but nothing else, then have to sing an arpeggio to get the note. If I'm not playing a lot then I can sing within a tone of the C (maybe Bb, maybe D) based on how the resonance 'feels'. If your playing a melody within a piece the band is giving you the pitch. I was given a set of exercises that had you playing successively low notes and high notes in odd intervals like augmented 9ths and 15ths...difficult jumps to 'hear'. A couple of months of that and you'll be able to relate what you mentally want to accomplish and what you physically need to adjust in order to be able to do it.

    If you're hitting the first note cleanly and playing in tune then that's what the man pays you for.

    Just my thoughts.


    Last edited: Apr 17, 2007
  6. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    Me too! I rely on muscle memory for the first note. As far as pitch goes, playing the mouthpiece and matching pitches with the keyboard is a great way to improve our trumpet ears.

    Have fun!
  7. screamingmorris

    screamingmorris Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 4, 2007
    You are interrupting my pity party :^)

    - vintage morris: looks bad, plays bad, sentimental value, make offer
  8. trumpetgeek01

    trumpetgeek01 New Friend

    Apr 3, 2007
    Roanoke Virginia
    If I really want to learn the exact pitches to hit for a piece of music for symphony or something I listen to the track for the piece many times. It helps me keep the pitch in the head because I remember it by heart. Also it helps to relate the pitch to a section that you have played or listened to before.
  9. Stile442

    Stile442 Piano User

    Mar 26, 2007
    Deland Fl
    In college we have a whole sequence to go through with theory, sight singing, and ear training. When I started I could not tell a m2 interval from a P8 octave most of the time. But after doggedly pursuing it I can hold my own most of the time. I'll probably never be able to play "Green Hornet" in all 12 major and minor keys by heart but I know enough to do what I need. Keep working on it and you'll get there. You might try Ricci Adams' it has some great ear training exercises online and it free. Gotta go practice for my ear training final now :cool:

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