Who's your most important teacher?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by amtrpt, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. amtrpt

    amtrpt Pianissimo User

    Feb 17, 2008
    Hi all,
    Here is my first new thread in a while. The reason I'm doing this thread first is that I think it may be the most important thing to learn, understand, and use throughout our careers as trumpet players.

    Let me start with a story. When I left Savannah and returned to school at Eastman I played in the first solo class of the year. That was the normal procedure for new students. I was feeling a lot of pressure about returning to school. I had just won my first job, and I felt that people would expect a lot from me and I expected a lot from myself. (For clarity the job in Savannah was a one year appointment.) Needless to say it didn't go well. I folded big time and I was pretty humiliated. I was sitting in the main hall at Eastman after that class and Charlie Geyer came and sat with me. The first thing he said was, "that wasn't very good was it." (Definitely a statement, not a question.) I agreed that it was bad. He asked me what I was going to do about it and I said that I guessed I would ask Barbara Butler what to do. (She was my teacher at Eastman.) Charlie told me then something I have always remembered. He said that I had better learn to teach myself, no one takes lessons forever. He was right. A few years later I was in the Kansas City Symphony and my playing was going backwards. I started giving myself lessons, complete with assignments, goals and a date and time that I would teach myself and it really worked!

    This is getting too long so let me just encourage you all to learn from your teachers, your peers, and most importantly yourselves. Listen carefully to your own playing and find what you like and what you don't like and then come up with your own ideas about how to fix it. Then you can ask your teachers what they think about your ideas and you can go from there.

    Sorry for the long post. I look forward to your ideas on this topic.

    MJ, administrator and misty.sj like this.
  2. Bourbon City

    Bourbon City Pianissimo User

    Jun 8, 2004
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    That was not a long post - it was a great read. Every member of this forum will be better off after reading your post.

    Thank you for sharing.
  3. MJ

    MJ Administrator Staff Member

    Jan 30, 2006
    This can really hit you hard when you first get out in the real world.

    Here you have been going to school for the past 4-6-10 + years :D and then all of a sudden you don't have that person telling you what you are doing wrong each week and how to fix it. (or what you are doing right) Thanks for the post Andrew.

  4. nplotts1

    nplotts1 Fortissimo User

    Aug 5, 2007
    Atlanta, Georgia
    I just discovered the thrill of teaching myself within the past semester and a half. Most of it is just expanding on what we do in my lessons, or discovering new ways to revisit some of what I already learned. I have become a much better player, in part, due to this; being able to teach myself in the practice room and talk about it at lesson time.

    I am not sure how the others feel, but if your post remains relevant to the topic or the story you are telling, it cannot be too long. I enjoy reading a nice post from a professional and learn from a story, even if it is drawn out, than to read just the bare essential of it. The stories make it seem much more real to life.
    And with the hopes of this not straying too far off topic, when were you with Savannah, I heard somewhere that the group ended up folding due to lack of funds. (not sure if this is true, even though I am only an hour up the road)
  5. flugelgirl

    flugelgirl Forte User

    Jan 20, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Wonderful post, and relevent no matter what style you are trained in! I studied jazz with Don Stratton in Maine, and as our lessons progressed we began to concentrate on learning to teach myself. If I had a problem excersize in a lesson, he would make me talk myself through it until I got to the conclusion, prompting me only when I was stuck. His goal was for me to leave him a better, self-sufficient player, and it worked! It really is a great thing to learn about your own learning style, and also teaches you to ask the right questions when you study with another teacher. I may not be the world's greatest trumpeter, but I do have the ability to solve my own playing problems before they become disasters - I can't say that for everyone I've worked with!
    Thanks for the great post!
    misty.sj likes this.
  6. Jimi Michiel

    Jimi Michiel Forte User

    Mar 22, 2005
    Great topic, Andrew!

    I was lucky enough to study with Charlie Schleuter for 3 years at NEC. Studying with Charlie was very different than any other teacher I have ever studied with, before or since. For the first two years, my lessons consisted primarily of etude work. We went through most of the Charlier book, as well as Top Tones and a few others. I was never assigned anything. Ever. Every lesson, I would go in and put my books on the stand. Charlie would look through and pick an etude. I would "learn" it in the lesson. Charlie teaches an approach more than he teaches individual pieces. Going through the process of applying a systematic approach to a new piece of music every week resulted in me becoming a better sight reader, and more importantly becoming a much quicker learner. In a lot of ways, Charlie taught me to teach myself in every lesson I ever had.

  7. ecarroll

    ecarroll Artist in Residence Staff Member

    Jul 13, 2005

    Wonderful topic.

    At some point in my first lesson with students at either McGill or CalArts I clearly state that I can't teach them the trumpet, but I can certainly teach them how to teach themselves.

    Students spend an hour per week with their teacher and ca. 21 hours per week alone in a practice room. It seems pretty clear to me where the energy should come from. . .

  8. talcito

    talcito Piano User

    Feb 18, 2004
    I have had a wonderful mentor over the last decade. He can hear me miss a note and tell me with great detail why I missed it......stuff like "The reason you missed that note was because you played the 4th note previous to it slightly sharp"....."Think down" on that previous note and you won't miss this time". Guaranteed you never miss with the advise he gives.

    Recently he has stopped giving me the answers as much. "I am not going be next to you forever" he says. You have to figure out these things on your own.

    As he gets much older I too understand his guidance may not be there all that much longer and really learning to be your best teacher is going to be crucial.

    Although, ones best teachers are always with you in "spirit"!
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2008
    Schwab likes this.
  9. tatakata

    tatakata Mezzo Forte User

    May 29, 2007
    Andrew, Can you compare your experience "on the job" vs. at school. where did you learn more? do you think you would have been able to become the player you are today had that 1st position been a longer or permanent commitment.

  10. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    This is definitely a call to keep our curiosity up. An open mind can work wonders for us and those around us!

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