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Ponderings About Collegiate Trumpet Programs


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Trumpetingbynurture
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This thread is getting a bit weird because it's really a.conversation about the value of music schools and degrees etc which is a great conversation to have, but the video/student in question is being used as an argument. It's becoming awkward because it's like 'If you just saw the video, you'd totally agree with me!'.
But you absolutely shouldn't share that video publicly or Privately as it would cross the line at this point into cyber bullying.

The thread is making me uncomfortable because it is condemnation without any defense being able to be put forward.

It's not my thread but can I suggest we leave behind the specific example and focus on the ideas themselves without using the student as an argument in and of themselves?

There are outliers in any context and your example is likely an outlier, as such it can't or shouldn't be used as justification for anything in and of.iteself.

The reality is, in my opinion, some technical challenges can take years to solve, even for the best of players. If you're trying to solve those while doing a degree, you're probably going to fall behind peers that aren't facing the same hurdles. Additionally, progress is slow for many people, especially early on. Some people need about 10 years of playing under their belt before they start to develop fluency.
It doesn't mean it won't come. But it means that if you didn't start playing until high school, you're not going to hit your stride until around the time you graduate.
Some players have mechanical advantages, equipment advantages, income advantages, educational advantages, etc and all of these can make a huge difference. Many players do not have these. Many people didn't have parents willing or able to afford lessons for you from the age of 6, which is usually when most of the future professional players start learning.
Don't underestimate the value of starting to learn at an early age... Or access to a good teacher. Or the benefit of the right mouthpiece etc.

To me, it looks like a lot of the people that have an easier time with the instrument do so out of luck. Yes, they work hard, but often the kid that is struggling is working just as hard.

Also, do not underestimate the impact of struggling at an instrument on your psyche. Timing issues and pitch issues are often as not issues with anxiety and an internalized sense of struggle which leads to hesitancy and getting in your own way.

Also, don't underestimate how success feeds on itself. If you have a natural leg up on the instrument, your parents and teachers go 'the kid's got talent' and they treat them differently. They spend more on lessons and equipment and educational experiences and push them more and it continues that way in college.

Think about compounding interest. If I start with $5k and you start with $10k and you get to invest your money 6 years before me ( ie start learning younger) then even if we are both improving 10% per year...

My $5k would become $13,535.00
Your $10k would become $49,203

You start out 5k ahead and end up 36k ahead. You start out with double the progress and ended up with ~3.6 times the progress.

My big point here is that talent is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as is a 'lack of talent', even when the latter player might be capable of achieving astonishing feats. The problem is the flow on impacts of an early advantage and the difficulty of 'catching up'.

Fortunately, skill is an S curve, and eventually reaches a ceiling, and that is where the catching up can occur, but it can mean 10+ years of additional hardwork to get there.

And yes, there are outliers on the talent and skill curve. There are 10 year olds who are phenomenal virtuosos (although they're less common with brass instruments). You have to forget about the outliers. Most of us, including most pros, are in the middle of the bell curve, differentiated by a lot of things outside our individual control.

Also, I think the majority of music students would be better off studying privately for a few years beyond high school before doing the degree. Gives them time to iron out any major kinks and get ready for a degree so they can get the most out of it.
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Dave_3
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How do the rest of the seniors sound? If they all play great, then maybe it's just one kid who slipped through the cracks. It happens in every major, at every school. Plenty of top shelf doctors and lawyers out there, but no shortage of quacks and shysters, too.
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Shaft
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

🎺

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andybharms
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A music performance degree isn’t a credential or certification like a degree in education. It carries no guarantee of quality, training, or experience. Some colleges have great teachers and some, not so great. Read the fine print… “your mileage may vary.”
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Crazy Finn
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaft wrote:
Only each individual can make that choice for themself.

They can look around the nation and see how many orchestral spots there are, how many top 100 hits on the radio will require a trumpet and pay them handsomely to lay down that track and do the live shows for that artist.

I don't know about now, but back in the day, not every student thought like that. even if they should have.
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trickg
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think maybe we've gotten off of the point of my first and original post - I'm going to quote a bit of that to maybe try to illustrate why I created this thread.

For what it's worth, I don't think I'm arguing against the value of a collegiate music program. My ponderings in this regard are more to the effect of asking how this kid seemingly fell through the cracks after studying music and an instrument for 4 years, and really just wondering how in the heck it could happen that way.

I realize that because this video isn't being posted here that there's no way to verify my opinion of what I saw and heard. Regarding the idea of "cyber bullying," let's not get ahead of ourselves - this was a video posted in the public domain via YouTube and is accessible to anyone who has the link. It has been viewed a couple hundred times. The link to the video was voluntarily posted to social media by the student in question, so it's out in the open. Once it's in the public domain, like so many other things in this day and age, it's open to opinion and scrutiny by whomever may see it.

Moving on, I had some questions that I posed in my initial post. Let's look at those again and maybe try to get this thing back on track.

Quote:
1. Is this normal? Are there a lot of music students in college who just sort of get by, getting the grades they need and checking the boxes, but who never really become proficient as a player?

2. Where is the accountability of the institution? Does there not come a point in time where the professors and instructors should pull these kids aside, give them a heart-to-heart, and suggest they either get it together, or possibly pick up underwater basket weaving as major instead?

3. (related to 2) Where does the blame lie? There is now a degreed "musician" in the world who isn't ready at all for any kind of real work as a musician. Is it the fault of the student, or is it the fault of the professors who simply kicked the can down the road?

I feel like at some point someone should have pulled this kid aside for a reality check and suggested that they possibly pursue a different course of study.


I guess for me what it boils down to is a very basic question: HOW did this happen?

For a student who is clearly struggling on the instrument, particularly trumpet, one of a few things typically happens over time:

1.) The most typical thing that happens is that if they put in the work, they improve. They may not be great, but they can get to a point where they at least have a fair amount of mechanical facility with the instrument.

2.) They switch to a different instrument that is better suited to their abilities and chops.

3.) They drop from the music program and switch majors to something that doesn't involve instrumental music.

NONE of those things happened, and I'm just curious as to why. This kid has a degree in music education now, but how much can they know about teaching music when they struggle so much with the basics of learning their own instrument?

At some point this kid had to have auditioned to be accepted into the music program, right? Did this kid meet the minimum standard for that? I guess they must have.

I just see this situation as being a failure on multiple fronts. The college failed this kid - they either didn't, or couldn't help this kid to improve, nor did they help this kid to the realization that maybe music isn't their bag, and let's face it, it's NOT everyone's bag. This kid also failed themselves by persisting in a degree program toward a job field where they are not likely to succeed.

And that's really what I was trying to convey because I'd always felt that maybe if I'd have gone to college for trumpet and music that I'd have become a better player than what I became, but college music clearly didn't help this kid, so would it have helped me? That's why this thread is titled:

Ponderings About Collegiate Trumpet Programs.
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HaveTrumpetWillTravel
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2021 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think we all agree with you that the student should have come out of the program stronger. At the same time, the context matters a lot. For me, knowing that they are a music education major changes the equation. What percent of a music ed major is performance? I am guessing not a lot. I'm guessing it's basically a minor in education plus courses like music theory, composition, conducting, etc. From what I have heard, it's not uncommon to hire someone to teach orchestra with a band background or vice versa.

For you personally, I would suggest that you just take this as confirmation that you took the right path in life and found a way to perform at a high level. It's also a "buyer beware" for students who think that doing a degree magically confers ability.

I think it also explains why the musicians I know can be such elitists about programs (i.e, if you can't go to a top conservatory, don't go, etc.). I'm not a huge Macolm Gladwell fan, but he has a thing about how the bottom 3rd in one program is often the top 3rd in a lower ranked program. I had this experience myself once, teaching at one school where students would write papers that I awarded As but where I knew they would only deserve Bs or lower at another school. His take is positive: you might not cut it at MIT but you can be a very happy engineer if you go to ___ university.

This may well be a student who was good enough to feel at home in the program they attended, but stalled out on trumpet or performs horribly. They may even go on to be a good educator. My son's band teacher doesn't really play any band instrument well, but is pretty good on piano and teaches well.
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those questions may be hard to answer without going into blaming or fundamental discussions about education in general.

Formal education, provided it is done right (just on that you could have a day-long debate), is a useful tool to acquire skills or knowledge...but it's not the only way to do so, nor does it guarantee success.

It's also possible that 'becoming a skilled player' wasn't the goal of the program. My own college degree (IT) didn't teach me the skills I needed to perform my job. It did however teach me the skills I needed to learn how to do my job. Given how fluid the IT industry is, that is actually far more valuable and future proof than learning a specific skill. I was rather green still when I finished college though, and only really learned how to do my job while already employed. Different industry of course, but like HaveTrumpetWillTravel said: improving personal musician skills may not have been the focus of the program.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HaveTrumpetWillTravel wrote:
For me, knowing that they are a music education major changes the equation. What percent of a music ed major is performance?

I started as a MusEd major and the requirements were for only for the first two years of instruction and at an adequate level of performance.

HaveTrumpetWillTravel wrote:
It's also a "buyer beware" for students who think that doing a degree magically confers ability.

One day as I waited for a composition lesson, I could see students coming and going from the Music Dept's entrance and remarked to my Professor that the portal should have over ita sign that says "Caveat Emptor". His response was something I'll never forget. He said, "You have to create your own vacancy".

[/quote]
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falado
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all, I've been watching this thread for a while and I thought I'd throw in my $.02. First this is just and observation over many years as a trumpet player, musician and educator.

Like you Patrick, I came up through the school of hard knocks and experience. I went right to college out of high school, I mean starting in June of that year because the professor I had said it would be good for me. Yes, a summer of music theory at the local community college. He was right of course as I really absorbed it and took lessons. During high school and Jr. high I took private lessons with a locally well known trumpet teacher and had a good grasp on fundamentals, could play the characteristics in the back of the Arban book and played through the Clark Technical Studies. I went to this institution of higher learning for a year. I ran out of money, had to live, but had an opportunity to go on the road with an R&B show band. Of course this went totally against the profs wishes. However. during my course of study my professor did not have me work fundamentals, he said my foundation was good. The 2 semesters I worked on nothing but excerpts and the Hyden and Hummel, played in the community orchestra, concert band, jazz band and brass quintet. Yes, 19 hours my 1st semester. One day I asked how to do the shakes in the big band. He told me to get a Schlosberg book and work on it. I also asked him "How can I make money, a living, playing trumpet?" His answer was, practice the excerpts and take orchestra auditions. My reply was, me and 300 other guys all trying to get 1 job! So, I went on the road and subsequently got better after playing 4-5 hours a night for about 2 years. Thanks to a phenomena called disco the road work dried up.

I went back to that college, played the same repertoire, same ensembles, but got to play some shows both in college and on the side. It was actually fun this time as I did get some great lessons with a local pro. While back in school I made an observation. While walking through the halls near the practice rooms you could tell the difference between the Ed majors and performance majors. The second trumpet in the quintet could barely play the music and if syncopation was involved, forget it. I, and the trumpet prof, really had to work with him to get the parts. After my 2nd year the money, and jobs, ran out again. I took an audition for a Marine field band figuring the GI bill would help me complete the degree 4 years down the road (sorry this is getting so long).

Boot camp the the Armed Forces School of Music. I was now in my early 20's. After hearing a great Air Force band and Navy band while in high school I figured this would be a great experience. After passing through the SOM I went to my first band, 3rd Marine Division, Okinawa, Japan. I was bitterly disappointed. Going in I figured I would be last chair, study with the 1st chair, and get much better, put in the hours. I guessed wrong. I was 2nd chair and only because the 1st chair had much more rank. I then made it worse for myself when was give the lead in the big band, he didn't let me live that down. The whole time I was there I wondered how adults could be treat each other in certain ways except, RHIP. I often practiced in the make shift band room, it was a garage. On day, early on after my arrival, the drum major came out of the band office and yelled to me "Cool it for a while, we don't need a f#@%^&* Herbert L Clark in this band!" Wow, that was motivating. I couldn't wait to leave, but while there I did plenty of outside gigging and did 2 weeks with The Platters.

I finally came back to the states to the band at Cherry Point, It was actually great when I first got there. The man in charge was into big band and I became the lead player and got to perform some great and often difficult music. Now, the whole time I'm in I'm asking the degreed players about their colleges and music programs, etc. as I wanted to get back to school. Then a new band officer arrived. He watched us for 2 weeks and then lowered the boom. Big band was gone and on came some concert band and lots and lots of Sousa and Alford (I actually like the Alford) Marches, 7, yes 7, days a week. We went 7 days a week, rehearsal for rehearsal sake if there were no jobs,. 180 days in a row without a day off. I have the Meritorious Unit Citation to prove it. The whole time I was there I got the feeling he didn't care for college educated people, after all, we think.

Okay, 4 years are up. I got out and auditioned for a 4 year college. Half way through my audition piece "La Virgin De La Macarena" I was told to stop and was asked if I could start playing lead in their jazz band. Bells and whistles went off in my head and I turned it down. You see, I had already asked my friends I originally went to college with where they were teaching. None, not a one, was. It seems the state ran short on it's budget and most music and art teachers were laid off. Oh well, back to the USMC. This time I asked for more school and went right to the SOM, I was a sergeant by then. I went through the intermediate course, passed and went on staff as a Music Theory/Ear Training instructor. It was a fun gig except during the time of year we each had 6 periods a day to teach. That meant a lot of late nights grading papers. But, did get to play in the Faculty Wind Ensemble and Lab Band, both great groups and now I was playing in band with great players.

So, now about college. Again, sorry for the length. I immediately began asking my students how many had degrees or some college. It turned out 1/3 to 1/2 of my students at times. I asked why they joined the military. I got various answers, I wanted to play again, found it wasn't for me, the parents, the students, etc. Ironically, the first person who failed the ear training and theory had a degree in performance. I found the degree didn't matter. Some had it, some didn't, some just didn't try or were into partying.

Fast forward, several years ago I taught at a school that was near a small university. I ended up playing in their wind ensemble and jazz band. While in the jazz band the trumpet prof (adjunct) in charge of the band asked me to talk to and help one of his students. This student was a senior and wasn't doing or playing his lesson material. He also was not doing a stellar job in the band. The prof told me that he was told the student needed to pass and he was told directly that he could not flunk him. Wow, what a predicament. When I talked to this student he had some how surmised that he was going into music ministry and the lessons and Jury exam didn't matter. Go figure.

I don't know what happened as the bands last performances we over before the end of the semester. But here's my findings. When I was getting ready to retire for the USN. Oh, I went from USMC to USN, US Navy Show Band, lead trumpet, writing charts, conducting bands, traveling all over South America, West Africa and the Caribbean. Anyway, I was at Navy Band Great Lakes and taking trumpet lessons with Nick Drozdoff (a great guy and a great player). I asked him about college and maybe which college to attend. I mentioned a couple of smaller and least expensive schools and he told me this. The school doesn't matter, let the horn do the talking. The degree is just a piece of paper and it's what come out of your horn that matters. So ok, some people go to great schools, get a degree and do nothing with it., How many people with MBA's do not work in business? How many people get law degrees and don't become great lawyers. 50% of all doctors graduated in the lower half of their class and I believe 50% of them became military doctors. OK, just kidding, but I did get misdiagnosed a couple, maybe a few, times while on active duty. Anyway, like it has already been stated, anybody can get a degree., It's what you do after or with it. I got my Masters in Music ED after retiring. I'm still playing gig, shows, arranging, conducting and leading and all in music and that is what is important to me. I finished my BA while on active duty and the VA paid for my masters. I can do the performing without the degree, but I need that piece of paper (sheep skin) to teach and I've had a heck of a career without a degree and a heck of a career with it.

Keep playing, Dave.
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trickg
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave, you really hit on some interesting points, and some of what you mentioned regarding military bands really hits home.

I'm curious when you went through the I-Course at the SOM - I wonder if it was coincidentally during my time there in the Basic course - late October of 89 through late April of 90.

I fully expected to be at the bottom rung when I went to the SOM, but I wasn't, and not by a long shot. I knew more than a couple of college degreed guys there who weren't as solid as I was. I think part of it was attitude. I was always reaching and earnestly trying to learn and become better. I didn't get along with my private instructor though, and he clearly had favorites. I certainly wasn't one of them.

He had one student who was a pet, and he would continually bring him up as a great example during my lessons - not by name though, but he'd start with, "I've got this one student who...." I finally had enough one day, and I told him, "I know exactly who you are talking about, PFC 'Jaboney.' (obviously not his real name) Let me tell you something about him. While guys like me are stepping up in rehearsals to play first parts, he gets there before everyone else and grabs seats toward the end to play 3rd parts. He might be awesome in the practice room, but he's not delivering anything when it counts. I never hear a note from him in rehearsals."

But that's what I'd do - I'd step up and try my hardest to learn parts quickly, get tough licks under my fingers, and really work at developing my technique in the practice room. In hindsight, I probably could have had a more streamlined and effective practice regimen, but without a lot of support from my private instructor, I was kind of left to my own devices regarding what and how to practice.

Somehow, I've managed to get better and to become good enough to be a working player, so I should be thankful of that. A lot of people have the heart, but the talent and chops just aren't there, which brings me back to this kid's recital.

Ruminating a bit more about it, I have to also acknowledge the idea that by not being a performance major, maybe they just didn't have the drive to try to improve. Maybe the Covid 19 lockdowns shut them down and their chops regressed. Who knows. Whatever the case, I hope they are a better teacher than they are a player.
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falado
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Patrick, I went to the I course July-December 1982, taught theory and ear training, went to the advanced course (enlisted bandleader) course January-October 1986, stayed on staff in rehearsal division (rehearsal conductor) until April 1987. I went to Quantico, VA as the acting enlisted bandleader. I was a Staff Sergeant (SSGT) at that time. Somebody at the Crystal Palace (yes, sarcasm) decided to disband 3 USMC drum and bugle corps and the made them trumpet players. Major D got some of us SSGT trumpet players together and told us the situation, all the senior stuff NCO buglers became trumpet players. This meant we competed for rank. He told us we would all retire as SSGT. I went from number 7 on the list of 5541 promotions to number 150 over night. So, I told him no sir. I was doing the job of a GY SGT and if I couldn’t have that job he had the wrong man. My EAOS was coming up and I made a phone call to my old department head at the SOM, They had a shortage of EBL grades. 13 started in my advanced course class and 5 of us graduated. The day I got out I, took an audition at Navy Band DC, made it and went right to the US Navy Show Band as assistant leader, lead trumpet, and arranger. I went from playing Sousa to everything from Glen Miller (ok, we did the Tyzik arrangement of In The Mood) to the latest rock and some TOP. It was a blast. Whew, the difference. When I wrote arrangements for the band at Quantico it would take a week or two to get the band to sound what I wrote. In the Show Band, with the same arrangements, we would run it down, tweak a couple things and viola, the band had it. I did my second tour at the SOM as a USN Chief Musician about 1993-1996. I worked in rehearsal division, taught theory and ET again and was CMA (Chief Master at Arms). I made MUCS while there. Oh, 2 1/2 years after being told I would retire as a SSGT, I made Chief Petty Officer (MUC) and put anchors on my collar. I also attended St. Leo University part time and got my BA in music.

So, back to what I hit and I avoided some things. So, when I was a basic student at the SOM, Sept. 1977-April 1978, I was about 23. Most of the students were late teens or early 20s. I had already had 2 years of college and 2 years of road work, actually playing for a living. I practiced when I could and when not on the road I practiced 3-5 hours a day. When I was a basic student I aggressively sought playing the 1st parts in the concert bands and ended up playing lead in the intermediate course jazz band. I played 1st in a lot of the advanced course concerts, that was fun with all that Vaughn Williams stuff, Holst, transcriptions, etc. standard concert band charts, Nestico, etc. it was fun.

What I noticed was that a lot of the younger students struggle with standard repertoire. Many struggled with grade 3 music. I was appalled at this, but think about how many flunked out, at that time the attrition rate was terrible, and back then the Army had 45+ bands to fill, the Marines 10 or twelve and the Navy about 15. So, this being post Viet Nam they tried hard to fill what positions they could.

Another thing that I found amusing. There were 2 lists for practicing, the under 10 and the over 20 (hours) of practice per week. A lot of my younger fellow students were complaining about practicing 10 hours a week. They complained that we had to to clean ups and field day. Then there was PT (physical training) and marching band every day and the 2 or more ensembles you played in every day. So, every week I tried to get on the over 20 list and listened to these complaints in formation. Here I was coming from the road, worked as a baker when not on the road and practice on my free time. And then I’m at the SOM, I was elated because someone was paying me to practice, what a concept! Getting paid to practice! So, I used to say to some of these youngsters, “you never had it so good, you’re getting paid to practice, so what if you have to do all this other stuff”. Good grief, getting paid to play all this great music and in each rehearsal band there were some great players. I remember when we had our weekly formations with Lt. Day, the Marine OIC, I would say, I like it here. They thought I was nuts, but hey, I had been a working civilian musician. When we played 1000 miles from home and had a week or two off that meant either driving home or living in a motel and eating peanut butter sandwiches until the next job maybe 500 miles away. And these kids are complaining about practicing 10 hours a week. Well, I’d better stop this, some of those people may be reading this.

Well, additionally, my instructor introduced me to Systematic Approach, he was a CG student at one time. I got totally into it and still do it and currently studying with Jeff Purtle, oops I have a lesson in 1 hour. -M me your instructor’s name, I might know him. My were SFC TG and later SFC WB. Bother great teachers and players. Sorry I got so winded. I haven’t reminisced like this in quite a while.
Dave
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a note, the students that I mentioned that were struggling were a small percentage, but it was noticeable when you’re sitting in a section next to one or two who are struggling to play the 2nd and 3rd parts on Holts 1st or 2nd Suite. Never mind the first part. These are pieces I had played in high school and college wind ensemble, standard repertoire. Most student ensembles played this music very well. While I was an instructor I also asked students who struggled about their school band programs. What I discovered was that band directors began focusing more on halftime shows and competitions. The repertoire and the old warhorses were being performed less and less because of the emphasis of learning and memorizing shows and only concentrating on festival music rather than reading the old pieces or even new pieces. Remember when directors would try to get at least 1 Alfred Reed piece in a concert, I did Russian Christmas Music with my community band a couple years ago, or how about Hounds Of Spring or Festival Overture or other pieces like Overture to Candide. Are the memories coming back? In my high school band the majority of players were involved in private lesson. The trumpet section was competitive. Here’s a trend, in recent years, and while on staff at the SOM, I noticed fewer students take private lessons and rely on the band programs for fundamentals. In the time period allowed it is hard for a music or band class to work the music and fundamentals, but we try. I find that back in the day I sought to play the 1st and solo parts, a lot of students today are hesitant to be singled out on the solos. I see a lot of problems with technology. As band directors we now compete with cell phones and computers and video/computer games. I’m sure this is now prevalent in college. I’ve offered free private lessons, but the students either decline or only do a couple and stop as it interferes with other activities. Also, I’ve been told many times “my parent(s) won’t let me practice at home, too much noise”. Perhaps this too contributes to some of the students in today’s music programs, but I don’t think so. With all the orchestras that have gone under and less music and show jobs. Remember doing circus gigs when they came through town? Military music programs have got much better. Many require or look for degreed musicians unless you blow them away in an audition. The last military band I saw was great.

Oh well, enough of the rant. This reminds of that great philosopher Frank Zappa, “Shut up and play your guitar”.
Dave
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paragraphs are one's best friend.
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falado
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know, but it kept running on. Darn that stream of consciousness.
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trickg
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

falado wrote:
I know, but it kept running on. Darn that stream of consciousness.

Don't mind him.

Your posts illustrate what tends to be overlooked all too often - the desire to work to get better has to come from within.

I've always been amazed that when a new person comes on here earnestly looking for help, all too often the get swatted down with the standard replies:

"do you have a teacher?"

"what did your teacher say?"

"get a teacher!"

I've always contented that a player who is self-aware can take themselves a long way with just good old-fashioned hard work provided there aren't any serious chops hurdles to overcome.

In my hometown, there really were no "teachers" - no local pros anyway. My hometown was in sparsely populated, small-town, SW rural Nebraska. Unless you took lessons from the school band director or an aspiring high school kid, there were no lessons other than what you got in band class.

The expectation was; if you wanted to get better, you needed to take your horn home and practice. And that's what we did. We had regular chair placement tryouts, and anything could happen. A kid's spot at 1st chair was not assured, and the section chair order changed all the time. These tryouts were sometimes announced, and sometimes they were impromptu, so you never wanted to be unprepared. They were also done in front of the whole band, so you didn't want to be embarrassed by crapping all over it when it was your turn to "face the music."

Somewhere along the way we've lost the whole DIY attitude, and people think they need to be led through everything. Granted, there are things a player will get by going to a first-tier conservatory, but you don't need all of that to be a functional, working player.

That's why I try to give good advice to those on the forum who seek it, rather than to brush them off with one of the standard replies above.
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Crazy Finn
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

trickg wrote:
In my hometown, there really were no "teachers" - no local pros anyway. My hometown was in sparsely populated, small-town, SW rural Nebraska. Unless you took lessons from the school band director or an aspiring high school kid, there were no lessons other than what you got in band class.

...

Somewhere along the way we've lost the whole DIY attitude, and people think they need to be led through everything. Granted, there are things a player will get by going to a first-tier conservatory, but you don't need all of that to be a functional, working player.

Speaking as someone who taught elementary and middle school band (and high school for a time) for almost two decades...

It's nice to have a DIY attitude, and self motivation. The second part is probably the most important part of becoming a good player.

However, unless you actually have a clue about what to do, a lot of times a DIY attitude isn't even remotely enough. You need some guidance to actually figure out how to play the damn thing - even if it is super limited moments in band.

I've gone into schools and see kids come into lessons after playing a few years - either I'm new or they're new to the school. And they can kind of play. Because it's clear that no one actually taught them HOW to play at the beginning. They practice hard at home, but make virtually no progress because they're doing almost literally everything wrong that they could and still make a sound.

I sometimes browse reddit and people aren't shy about posting videos of themselves playing. And frankly, at least half of them are worse than the 4th and 5th graders I used to teach. They get tons of compliments and then brag on their posts, "I'm self taught!" Well, no kidding.

Sometimes kids figure it out mostly on their own, like the OP did. But lots of kids go way off track and never get back on when they do it on their own. They end up quitting or just being completely mediocre with a low ceiling despite their best efforts - which is frankly a shame.

That doesn't mean they have to go do college. That doesn't mean they need weekly lessons from a pro or something. They just need SOMEONE with a clue to at least tell them how to get a good sound and look at their face a few times.

That all said, a DIY attitude IS a good thing, once you have some sort of foundation. I figured out things about my own playing from teaching for years and worked on stuff - using the accumulated wisdom I had acquired from the people I studied with.

The final thing the bugs me to no end is this public perception of "talent" or being a "natural." Sometimes kids in band or parents or the public will see one of my students play well and say "geez, she's a natural." I'll think back to how bad they were in the beginning, how their lesson partner picked it up way faster and had a nice sound even though they didn't practice that much. But, the student in question practiced HARD, 3-4 hours a week, asked questions about how to do this, how to make [whatever] easier, begged for extra time in lessons, and then asked if I would teach during the summer. That's not "talent" that's all about working hard and putting in the hours - and often, in the end, that's what really matters.
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falado
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

trickg and Crazy Finn, I'm with both of you. After teaching at the SOM and as a school band director I realize not all students have access to private instruction. I really try to help those who can't afford lessons. The nearest music store from my school is 30 miles away. However, when I see what is on the internet for instruction and research now, I sometimes think of how much better a player some of us could be if we had this back in the day.

When I was younger I was constantly seeking knowledge. I didn't know who Claude Gordon, Doc Reinhardt, Frink or any other of these great teachers were. I just knew the people in my hometown. I offer free lessons to my students and even some former military players in the area. I see live music practically dying with this pandemic situation. We just need to keep educating.

My Community band had their first rehearsal last week. We're keeping our distance, but we're playing and we have some high school students involved. We're learning new music and we're practicing for our Christmas concert in December.

Dave
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trickg
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crazy Finn wrote:
It's nice to have a DIY attitude, and self motivation. The second part is probably the most important part of becoming a good player.

However, unless you actually have a clue about what to do, a lot of times a DIY attitude isn't even remotely enough. You need some guidance to actually figure out how to play the damn thing - even if it is super limited moments in band.

Sometimes kids figure it out mostly on their own, like the OP did. But lots of kids go way off track and never get back on when they do it on their own. They end up quitting or just being completely mediocre with a low ceiling despite their best efforts - which is frankly a shame.

I wanted to address this part of your post. I don't see it that way at all.

Let's forget about the music page for a second and let's talk about just the mechanical act of playing the trumpet. Every single thing we do on the trumpet, whether it's playing "Hot Cross Buns," or "The Carnival of Venice," and everything in between and beyond, comes down to just a handful of techniques:

1. Tone production
2. Tonguing/Articulation
3. Lip slurs/flexibilities
4. Fingerings/coordination with articulation
5. Breath support

Everything else - scales, rhythm, phrasing, arpeggios, notes, reading music, etc - is done in coordination with those five things, but the mechanical act of playing breaks down to some pretty simple components.

We had a lot of kids go through my school band program and come out on the other side as very solid players, all without individual private instruction.

We had a band director in my hometown for about 5 years when I was growing up who came into a strong program and turned it into an absolute powerhouse. Keep in mind, this is a high school of roughly 200 kids. At one point the band had about 100 kids, and it was untouchable in a 4-5 state area. This director left after my 6th grade year, so I didn't get to partake in that glory, but I've talked to some people who were in it at its heyday, and they said that going to the All-State and some of the other notable honor bands was actually a letdown because simply put, their everyday high school band was better.

How can this be? How can this be in a town of 2000 people and a high school of just 200 kids and without any private instructors to be had? How can this be if what you assert above is true?

The reason is simple - there was a very high expectation, and kids worked to meet it. It didn't come without casualties. While I'm sure this would be frowned upon in this day and age of "every child is special and deserves a trophy," this director would start to weed out kids starting in around middle school. He never forced a kid to quit, but he would pull certain students aside and suggest that maybe band wasn't their thing.

The rest of it? Practice and hard work at home. Knowing how an instrument should sound, and knowing how a musical line should sound are actually relatively simple concepts, especially when there are other kids in the program who are doing it correctly.

There are going to be kids who just don't get it, but for those who are going to actually go somewhere with it, they likely already have it in themselves to be able to figure it out on their own with the resources available to them.
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Trumpetingbynurture
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2021 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Speaking as someone who taught elementary and middle school band (and high school for a time) for almost two decades...

It's nice to have a DIY attitude, and self motivation. The second part is probably the most important part of becoming a good player.

However, unless you actually have a clue about what to do, a lot of times a DIY attitude isn't even remotely enough. You need some guidance to actually figure out how to play the damn thing - even if it is super limited moments in band.

I've gone into schools and see kids come into lessons after playing a few years - either I'm new or they're new to the school. And they can kind of play. Because it's clear that no one actually taught them HOW to play at the beginning. They practice hard at home, but make virtually no progress because they're doing almost literally everything wrong that they could and still make a sound.


All of this.

I was that kid that was working my arse off.and getting worse. I improved massively for the first couple of years, and was playing movement 1 of Hummel about 3 years in. But then hit a wall and things started to go south. Trying to solve without good guidance.why I was.getting worse from practicing etc. It spiralled until I couldn't play three notes in a row. All I wanted to do was play the instrument but my family was disinterested, I didn't have any good pros in my area or a.way to take lessons if there were. My Embouchure was a mess.

Yes, trickg said except without serious chop problems but how is a kid suppose to know that before it's too late.

I've also taught plenty of young students. If I set them up from the get go, it's usually fine and they improve quite linearly. That start around middle G and usually add a semitone of range every 1-2 weeks. However, if someone else has started them off, even if only 6 months ago then it's more often than not a nightmare. They've already developed a 'feeling' for playing that is wrong. And my job becomes spending the next 6 months slowly getting them back to where they should have been from the first week. And you can't do a direct Embouchure change with kids because it needs conscious attention during practice and most kids won't remember to do it except in their lesson and so the change won't stick. Or they'll end up completely confused.

I have gone into a new school before and had nothing but a wish that I could start the kids all over again because the trombone player that taught them preciously started them poorly and so they're doomed without intervention. With hard work they'll get so far and no further. I've had kids that have been playing for a year with another teacher and can't even play an A in the staff with (as in 2nd space A) with a good sound and without ramming the mouthpiece into their face. It's NOT because they're untalented. It's because they started off badly and reinforced and incorrect way of playing that doesn't work.
(it's always the trombone player teaching trumpet that I see these issues with. Trombone players shouldn't teach trumpet imo).
You don't realize just how many ways there are to play wrong until you've ended up with the kids of a teacher that didn't know what they were doing. And usually in this situation there's around 10 students, 7 can barely play, 2 can play acceptably but have a not-great Embouchure. 1 has a close enough Embouchure and can play well enough that they'll get there fine with just hard work like you said.

Now that's 9 out of 10 kids that most would just say we're 'untalented' but it's not true. There is a lot of teachers around that don't understand how important it is for a kid to start right. A lot of people mistakenly think it's up to God or something whether someone can play.

It upsets me tremendously every time I see it happen because someone has carelessly stolen 7-9 of 10 kid's possible futures. Sure, none of them might have wanted to become great players but they miss out on ever having the chance to consider the possibility.

Yes, if you were a 'natural' at the instrument then sure,.you can get a long way with minimal teaching, but I'm not aware for example of any pro orchestral or studio trumpets players or virtuoso soloists that got there without a good teacher.

The best advice for everyone is 'get a good teacher'. There is no substitute. 1 in 100 might get by without a teacher. But if you're asking for help on a forum, you're probably not that person.
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