Beginning Band Trumpets
October 9, 2013 at 1:50 pm #30293
I’m having an awful time with my new trumpet players. This is my third year teaching and I feel comfortable teaching brass, but apparently my first few years were graced with easy students. One student in particular isn’t hitting any notes. NONE! He’s buzzing, but not anywhere close to pitches. He sometimes gets a pitch after reminders for really fast straight air, but I’m sure his practicing at home is not helpful at all. Should I mention that this student is as close to tone deaf as they come? Another student can successfully match pitches and sing them prior to making nonsense sounds on the instrument. We are all genuinely trying but nothing I say seems to help them. Any suggestions?October 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm #30301
Do you test students on brass before letting them play an instrument? It won’t help this year, but in future years…. Try them on baritone or trombone. Sometimes students can’t produce a sound on trumpet, but it comes easier on the bigger mouthpiece. If a student is tone deaf, any brass instrument may not work. Do you use a lesson book like Essential Elements that comes with a CD they can play with? Of course, if they are not practicing at home, you can talk until you are blue in the face- they won’t get any better.October 10, 2013 at 11:19 am #30386
One student I did test, but I don’t remember her being so awful at it! And now that pressure is on she probably feels worse. Another student couldn’t play last year because his family couldn’t afford an instrument…until someone donated a trumpet for him. He was so excited….me not so much anymore! haha
I thought last night (as I was teaching one of my private trumpet students….) that maybe if I mentioned blowing softly? They are practically blowing their brains out and everytime I say fast air from the tummy the blow harder and harder.October 16, 2013 at 3:32 pm #30832
I’ve had that problem in the past. What I do is have them stick with it for about two months, and at that point if it’s clear they are still struggling, I sit them down and ask them how they’re feeling about the trumpet. They will probably say they don’t like it or they know that they are not good at it. At that point, I will suggest the possibility of learning a new instrument and see how they react. They will probably be excited. And yes, euphonium is the way to go with struggling trumpet players. Same fingering sequence, much more forgiving mouthpiece.
My beginner trumpets this year are a struggling lot, but today, for the first time, they all showed significant progress: they all were able to play both C and G for the first time. A few weeks ago they seemed like a lost cause. But I’ve kept on them to keep trying, and they have crossed at least one hump.
By the way, I don’t ever wonder if my students are “tone deaf.” In fact, I read an article saying that there is no such thing. And after teaching for many years, I agree. If a trumpet player can learn to buzz and finger, they will eventually get the right notes whether they can hear them or not. And I would wager that this will help them hear notes better.October 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm #30881
When students are having issues like these, sometimes taking a few steps back is helpful. In my experience, always beginning class with just the mouthpiece is helpful; after all, the size of the mouthpiece appears to be a theme when it comes to beginning high brass. if students can experiment with holding the mouthpiece exclusively with their thumb and pointer-finger, at the natural angle for their embouchure (usually slightly downward) the students will be able to focus on getting a healthy tone from something much simpler and less things to hold onto. Only using the thumb and pointer-finger is important because using all five fingers can result in pushing the mouthpiece onto the embouchure too hard which also causes problems.
Things to check: horn angle, placement, pressure against embouchure. All with just the mouthpiece and then try back with the entire trumpet.
- The forum ‘Band’ is closed to new topics and replies.