What's Good Enough?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    What level of musicianship and playing does it take to survive in the real world? I'd love to go for a career playing the trumpet but I don't know what it is like out there. I keep getting it from the parents that it is so hard to make a living off of it.

    I'd like to not let my parents effect what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life, but I also don't want to end up a homeless musician on the street for the rest of my life.

    How can I know if it is foolish to go into music or not? I'm 1st trumpet in marching band, and 1st chair in an advanced out of school band. However, the more I see more trumpet players I see some incredible stuff for people around my age that I am no where close to. I tend to have a small fear that I'm just a better-than-average player in a bad musical area and when I get out into the real world I wont stand up to the competition.

    I actually thought about going to the guys that give the music majors trumpet lessons at the college I would start out at and getting opinions on whether it could work for me or not.

    What do you think?
  2. AKtrumpet

    AKtrumpet Piano User

    Jun 4, 2010
    If you're willing to put in the time and effort I dont see why you couldnt succeed; what you should try and do is get a better understanding of how much work it will take to make your dream come to fruition and then decide if your willing to pay the neccesary dues. Practice, practice, practice!

    "I actually thought about going to the guys that give the music majors trumpet lessons at the college I would start out at and getting opinions on whether it could work for me or not."

    Sounds like an EXCELLENT idea to me.

    - Aidan S.

    P.S. I'm a high school student myself... you might want to listen to someone with more experience, but that's my opinion.
  3. craigph

    craigph Piano User

    Mar 12, 2010
    In the words of Chris Botti... to be successful requires just 4 things:

    1. practice
    2. practice
    3. practice
    4. be friends with Sting
  4. ltg_trumpet

    ltg_trumpet Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 21, 2009
    Oh my god i literally laughed out loud.

    To your question, Im also a high school player. I play jazz, concert, funk, fusion, whatevvs. A professional told me, making it as a musician not only requires you to be a great performer, we must also be able to arrange, Im about to buy some books about composition, and piano. We have to be versatile. my dream would be to play everyday my trumpet with a small combo, thatd be great! but i know that making it big as a musician requires a lot of luck as well. you gotta have it in the head too man. you gotta be able to make the relationships in the music industry, and you CANNOT make enemies. On the surface, it looks like a lot of practice. however, actually making it? it requires NETWORKING. :)
    Here's for hoping man. Maybe well meet someday.
    Lincoln Gee
  5. jmichaelhurt

    jmichaelhurt Pianissimo User

    Jul 18, 2010
    I've been a freelance trumpet player in the Atlanta area for almost 15 years now and my initial thought is to say become an engineer or an accountant or something. At least you'll have a steady pay check. However, if you're up for a financial challenge and rewarding career as a trumpet player then have at it. It ain't easy! Most freelancers have a day job and then gig on the side. Very few are able to get enough gigs to pay all of their bills.

    And playing is just part of it! Sure, you have to be able to play, but you also have to be able to network. Some really bad players get a lot of work and some really good players sit at home at night because they don't have the networking skills to get gigs and keep them.

    You also have to take in consideration the area you want to work in. Are there a lot of good players there? ie, competition. Are there any gigs to be had? The bigger the city, the more gigs, but you'll have more competition.

    All in all, it's nice to make your own schedule and you get to meet some great people. I worked on a cruise ship and was able to visit 65 countries in a little under two years. A pretty cool experience I have to say!

    Take lessons from anyone and everyone. Seek out the good players in your area and get lessons with them. Go to the best possible college you can get into and develop a great relationship with your teacher(they can get you gigs!). Never turn down a gig unless you already have one, no matter what the pay is. Be nice! I have gotten gigs, not because I'm a great player, but because I was easy to deal with and didn't hassle the contractor.

    Did I mention practice? Not only should you practice, you should practice everything, every style, every genre, classical, jazz, and everything in between. You don't want to turn down a gig because you can't play changes or you can't make up a fanfare on the fly right before you play trumpet voluntary at a wedding.

    Just my 2 cents.......
  6. ltg_trumpet

    ltg_trumpet Mezzo Piano User

    Jan 21, 2009
    A lot of useful information there....
    thank you sir.
  7. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    I've been a freelance professional trumpet player since 1968. Study with the best teacher you can find and practice, practice, practice. take every oppertunity to play. Get as much experience in as many styles as possible. Classical: I've played with orchestras, chamber ensembles and solo. Jazz: big band, jazz combos (lead and jazz improvisation). Commercial: musicals, showbands, circus, ice shows and rock soul, funk bands. learn the different styles for each.

    Be dependable; show up on time,be easy to work with, good attitude. Your job is to make whatever music you're playing sound good. leave the ego at home. learn to sight read, sight read, sight read, when you get hired for a projob you usually will have only one rehearsal and you be lucky if you have the music before hand. You'll nee to be able to play it the first time through. I have been hired to play a show where I saw the music for the first time in the performance.

    At school is the time to learn the skills and get the trainig you will need to be ready for the oppertunities that will come at you. Beside the facualty as mentors and contact. you will for friendships that will be a huge asset as you start you career in music. Keep you ears and you mind open because in college you wil be exposed to so much new music. It may be new to you but it is bread and butter of the pro world.

    fill free to contact me you have any more questions anytime.
  8. DaveH

    DaveH Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    I don't think there is such a thing as "good enough" in the ultra-competitive world of being a professional musician.

    I think that there are many things involved in doing the kind of thing you propose, and I am convinced that some of them you can control and some may not be within your control.

    There are a number of good comments made above, but let me offer some of my thoughts or opinions based on what I have been able to observe over many years, and learn from others in various positions.

    First, I don't think you can be "good enough". I think you must set you standards higher than that. You should strive to be the best. If not, the other people who are striving to be the best will pass you by. I think the level of competition will probably require that those who are going to really be successful are going to be among the best players out there in the world today. A question that comes into my mind is, what exactly are your career goals? How successful do you really want to be? The name Chris Botti was mentioned above - do you want to be like him? If so, then you need to be able to play like that. But, he is an extremely good player - not just "good enough". IMO, I don't think most players get that good.

    Do you want to be a session player in a town like Los Angeles? Those are among the very best players in the world. They are not just "good enough". Those who are good enough don't get the calls - the best get the calls.

    Do you want to play full time in a symphony orchestra? There are auditions to win, and the competition is very severe.There may also be an element of "politics" involved, and that may be outside your control. From what I have seen and heard, the orchestral music world is not in a growth phase - many orchestras are going through very difficult times economically.

    You need to be in the right place at the right time with the right abilities and skills, and due to the competition involved, it may be necessary to be able to outplay the competition. As mentioned, LA may be the session/studio "capital", but the best players in the world live and work there...you will be competing with the likes of Wayne Bergeron, Gary Grant, Warren Luening, and Malcom McNab - names found on the credits of many movie soundtracks and recordings.

    You may have a better chance if you do not aspire to these heights - but then you need to remember a quotation that I have often heard which says "there's room at the top and there's room at the bottom - it's the middle that's crowded." If you are among the best, you may get to the top - there is probably room there for another one of the best. But, many, many people swim around in the middle, and that may be the hardest place to succeed.

    Finally, I think there is more involved than just being the best player. You probably need some marketing, business, and public relations skills and know how as well.

    The long story of what I am saying is that you probably need to aspire to be the best - not just "good enough" because I think that the ones who are good enough ARE, in fact, the best. I think you need to get some in person advice and counseling from people who either are doing what you aspire to do, or from people who are very knowledgeable about it. There will be better sources of information than an Internet forum - not that there is anything wrong with asking here, however.

    Just my opinions, FWIW...good luck.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  9. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    I think you are a high school student that needs a reality check.

    #1 I would listen LONG and HARD to what my parents tell me.

    #2 I would listen LONG and HARD to what my parents tell me.

    #3 First chair in high school is NO indication of how you play. You yourself think that you are just above average. Not many of those guys are making a living playing trumpet.

    #4 I would listen LONG and HARD to what my parents are telling me.

    #5 By all means, get advice from some working musicians and the advice of an Honest teacher.

    oh yeah, listen to your parents.
  10. rettepnoj

    rettepnoj Fortissimo User

    Feb 22, 2009
    Shouldn't he also be listening to what his parents tell him??

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