Many of the responses have talked about getting a variety of tone qualities on the same instrument, but I think your instructor was simply talking about changing your approach on a *different* instrument. And I think that's a completely valid point: I try to use very different approaches to piccolo trumpet, D trumpet, C trumpet, Bb trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, trombone, and euphonium. In fact, my approach to the euphonium really messes with my trumpet chops, so I don't play euph very often.
I can shade my tone brighter and darker on any given instrument through various physical manipulations, but I'm hardly the best at such things. I'll change mouthpieces and/or instruments to make big alterations in sound.
Finally, to address the question in the thread title -- yes, I do think Bright or Dark is determined by the player and not the hardware. But I don't think that's what you were really asking. I know guys who could shatter glass with a Bach 37 and a 3C. And I know other guys who could do a good flugelhorn imitation with exactly the same setup. But the bright guys probably wouldn't be able to get a dark sound on that equipment, and the dark guys probably wouldn't be able to play very bright. I'm sure there are lots of players who could achieve both extremes on the same equipment, but I don't personally know any.
J. Notso Nieuwguyski
I am surprised not to see Rowuk on this discussion...anyway, playing dark or bright is not only a question of sound color. Do your homework - listen to "bright"trumpeters as opposed to "dark"cornet and flugel players. Than analyse. What is different other than the color of the sound in their playing? Other variables to look - 1. Dynamics 2. Phrasing 3. Articulations. Get it? Do it. It is not that complicated.
Knowledge is freedom, and ignorance is slavery - Miles Davis
The difference between a beginner and pro mouthpiece is practice - tobylou8
Nobody has learned how to play the trumpet. It's endless. - Maynard Ferguson
Don't be afraid to try something different. The Ark was built by an amateur and the Titanic was built by a group of experienced engineers.
By the inch it's a cinch, by the yard, it's hard!
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