So you wish to play the trumpet...
Cool! Lots of beginning trumpet players are motivated by a trumpet player they heard. Perhaps it was a jazz player that could shout so extreme the dog hid under the bed.
Or maybe it was a nice ballad that made the heart stroke a little faster. It might have been the frightening brass sounds of a Mahler symphony, the spirit of a dixieland trumpeter, the sharp percussiveness of a mariachi player (not to mention the tight pants!)...
Regardless of the motivation, new trumpet players are anxious to understand as rapidly as possible, but therein lies the issue...
Too often new players are so thrilled they forget to learn how to play correctly. The initial sounds of a trumpet are a bit like a newborn - pretty neat, but usually beautiful only to the mother.
Just as a new parent needs to worry for the kid, nurturing and provide a good childhood to let the kid develop into a fine individual with good personality, a new trumpet player is responsible for establishing appropriate trumpet skills, and understanding to 'play the trumpet with character'.
The problem is that new players often times decide they can teach themselves to play the trumpet. Certainly, it's possible to find a way to make a tone using poor form. And the fingerings of the notes are quite easy to memorize.
The outcome is a trumpet player who learns to play simple songs that are "good enough that your mother likes it". Nevertheless, that player soon hits some limits. He's no longer satisfied with his fuzzy tone. His songs notes don't come out cleanly.
His range ends strengthening. Even his mother stops being grateful! These limitations stem from the fact that he didn't learn proper trumpet technique from the outset.
In reality, there are particular and proper practices for making a tone, breathing, fingering position, horn pressure level, bodily posture, and numerous more. When these techniques are practiced from the starting point, the limitations and 'sticking points' down the road are minimized.
Improvements come more rapidly, and the trumpeter plays more musically. On the other hand, players that develop bad methods experience discouragement and challenges when they eventually have to take the time to forget and correct their bad practices.
So what's a new trumpeter to do? The best move a new player can make, regardless of age, is to choose a personal trumpet educator. Emphasis is on "personal". Band directors can assist with basic principles, but they usually can't offer the individual interest required to ensure each student really learns good method. A good individual instructor will explain the proper means to play the trumpet, including tone, fingering, breath support, articulation, and musicianship.
"Can I afford personalized trumpet lessons?"
Private classes are generally $10 to $30 for a half hour. The rate often depends not as much on the teacher's ability to teach, but instead, his/her ability, recognition in the community, and ego (trumpeters have big egos - it's standard and a good thing...). Ask for referrals from the local high school or college or university music section.
If personalized trumpet classes are out of reach, you might go the "virtual trumpet lessons" route. Yes, thanks to technologies, video trumpet courses are a great, economical option for many newbie players. Better than a book, video trumpet classes can provide actual demonstrations of trumpet methods. A great video trumpet lesson will teach you not only what to do, but how to analyze your own technique and monitor your progress.
It's natural that newbie trumpet skills need to be practiced, and the teacher will have to repeat and strengthen certain lessons. It costs money to have a personalized instructor repeat a trumpet lesson, but if you have the video of the lesson it's just a thing of reviewing, practicing, and repeating as needed. No additional money needs to be spent on review lessons!
A last benefit of video trumpet courses is that they force the students to examine themselves, instead than taking a "tell me what to do" approach. Critical assessment of one's own playing is not typically a component of beginning trumpet courses, but it may be the single most significant skill an instrumentalist can acquire.
So take your passion for the trumpet and work with it! Just remember that even though you can go it alone, the path to obtaining your goals will be much greater when you have the assistance of a real trumpet teacher - real or virtual. You don't have to be the trumpet player that merely a mama can love!
And if your passion for trumpet is truly big then you'll absolutely want to get some additional "gear" like this awesome Trumpet Players t-shirt below.
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