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Taking on a Facetime Student


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trickg
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 6:31 am    Post subject: Taking on a Facetime Student Reply with quote

As the title of the thread says, it appears that I will be taking on a student soon, with the kicker that this kid lives 1500 miles away in my Nebraska hometown. The school band teacher is a friend of mine - she's a woodwind player and wanted to know if I'd be willing to give it a go because she's just not sure what to do with him.

I'm looking forward to it. From what I've been told, he's a lot like I was at that age - he's in 8th grade, really enjoys playing, has good power and range and loves the fact that he can play higher and louder than any of his classmates.

Here's the kicker though - he loves to play, but I've been told that he dislikes the idea of working scales and method book exercises - the kind of structured work that at some point he's really going to need if he decides to continue to pursue it. I don't think I'm going to be able to come out of the gate with, "here - work on this Clarke Technical Study, and page #123 from the Arban's book."

So here's my thought. I have 700-800 charts from the wedding band, most of which were arranged off of the original radio recording. I think I'm going to find a few of those that I know will be fun and challenging, and get him going on those first with the idea of backing into some of the fundamentals. That way he can crank up the tune, play the chart, and have a lot of good fun while doing it. I think that keeping it fun is going to be the key initially.

Ultimately, if he wants to get to a point where he's not only good among his immediate peers, but good on a larger scale, I'm going to have to find a way to get him to work on the important things -

Articulation
Lip slurs
Long tones
Phrasing
Dynamics
Breath control
etc.

And also how to properly practice so that the practice is productive and not damaging.

Anyone else have any thoughts regarding this?
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always tell the new student this story.

When little kids begin playing soccer they just run around the field, following the ball with no understanding of playing positions, how to pass the ball, structuring plays, or anything about fundamentals. The just want to kick the ball with no regard to fundamentals. When they get to about 7th or 8th grade the coaches get down to the nitty gritty. Hours of drills and technique development with a relatively small amount of actual playing of the game. This is when over 50% of kids quit because they don't want to learn fundamentals, they just want to have fun. Those that have the maturity to work hard on the fundamentals become good players. Those that don't, well........... Now which would YOU rather be?

You are the teacher.

He is the student.
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kehaulani
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Along thhose lines, It'll take a little extra work on your part, would be to :

Give him piece of music that has passages requiring the same elements as a "cold" exercise i.e. instead of playing a scale exercise, play a piece of music which contains passages that the kid would have to work on to bring that part up to the same level as the rest of the music.

Maybe he's not at this level, but it's the fundamental approach I'm talking about: In Earth, Wind and Fire horn parts, there are passages that may have the elements of basics that just have to be cleaned up. That is, working on the music's passage while cleaning up some difficult tonguing without calling it that.

Extra work on your part and calls for some creative approaches that may not come easily to you.

An alternate would be to drive home to the student that there are just techniques he has to master to get the most out of his music. Maybe ocassionally drawing for him (verbally, not playing) the relation between a "cold" exercise/etude you give him and how developing that skill applies to a betterment to the music he wants to play. This calls for some occasional "sage" advice without the actual research on your part to successfully do it as I first suggested.

And cold.but remember you're not getting paid for all the research time you spend on the first alternative. Challenging and interesting, perhaps, but a profitable demand on your time - you have to answer that.

In any case, I do sympathise with the "You're the teacher" sentiment expressed above. That's a lesson a student has to learn, also.
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Last edited by kehaulani on Mon Nov 08, 2021 4:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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trickg
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I appreciate the responses.

Billy, I get it - I totally do - but when you're talking about a kid in rural Nebraska where sports are the main thing, getting a kid to commit to a conservatory-type approach is a tough sell. Yeah - you're absolutely right. But you're also wrong. This is one of those cases where being right isn't always right. It's like fishing - if you try to set the hook too early, you're going to lose the fish.

This follows into what Kehaulani has suggested - find repertoire that catches his interested but that also works fundamentals due to the technical nature of the musical lines. That was almost entirely my approach until I finally started to work on fundamentals in a structured way somewhere around my Junior/Senior year of high school. I had a huge jump in development during my 8th and 9th grades, not because I was working technical exercises from a method book, but rather because I had the horn on my face for a period of hours every day, playing music because I thought it was fun. I got better as a result of that. I was "practicing" but it only working on the music that had been assigned to me.

My plan is to get him hooked in with some real music that will present a technical challenge, and then drive home the point that it's only through working the basics that making music and being able to fully express it becomes possible. I think it's important for the student to come to that conclusion on their own rather than taking a "because I'm the Dad and I said so" approach.
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Trumpjerele
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If being 100% focused on musical things led me to improve my technique of playing the instrument, I would not work on fundamentals.

Today for example, I have only been able to practice one hour, maybe a little less. long tones, flexibility, air control exercises in pianisimo, and that was it.

Tomorrow I have jazz combo classes, we are working on 4 standards, it would have been good for me to review the changes and the heads, etc, but the goal tomorrow is to be focused on the music 100%, not on the mechanics of the instrument ... I hope that the work today help with that.

If your student doesn't need to work on the fundamentals to progress, that's great, but certainly not for me. Finally, I personally do not like to use musical fragments to work on technical things, I have discovered that this makes me concentrate on far away things that I should concentrate on when I interpret a piece.

Needless to say, I have no teaching experience. But at the end of the day, if there is passion there is no boredom.
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irith
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd let him lead to some extent - ask him what his goals and interests with the instrument are, what he wants to get better at.

If you can present a few technical exercises as specific solutions to things he wants help with, he might be more inclined to work on them. From there you can maybe branch out in time. A lot of times I think scales and such are presented in schools without much explanation of why they're useful, and kids will write them off as a result.

Building on some other sports analogies I've seen here - you can liken technique work to hitting the weight room or doing cardio. It's not the most fun in the world but it's how you hone your abilities for the fun stuff.

Maybe try some etudes? Those can be a nice middle ground between, say, pop songs and technical work, hitting a lot of bases at once. They might present more challenges than he faces in school music, too, which could further spur his interest in improving the fundamentals. It can be easy for the best players to get kind of complacent.

Try integrating some listening too! Even a lot of advanced kids don't hear that much trumpet playing in their normal day. Something as simple as a cool YouTube video during your lesson might help inspire him further.
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink;
Unless you salt the horse.

This is where the real skill comes in teaching.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd start with the first few lessons of YOU learning what are the student's biggest 'how to blow the trumpet' weak (or wrong) points that are important to be fixed NOW.

If those basic mechanical aspects are good, that makes it much more likely that the student can improve.

But if there are basic major flaws such as bad embouchure or depending on high mouthpiece pressure for high notes, then you've got to somehow connect with the student to 'change his ways'.
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OrangeDreamsicle
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure how good this is, but would he be responsive to you giving him just a couple exercises a lesson to work on a bit? Maybe if you explain that it'll make him more expressive, etc. in the music he wants to play, he might be more willing to a little practice on fundamentals he needs if he understands that it'll help him to play music he likes better. If that ends up working, I'd assume you can gradually give him more work from that point. Maybe not something for everyone, but it's a big motivator for me to practice that it'll make me enjoy the music I like to play more when I can play it better.
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ebolton
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 5:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Taking on a Facetime Student Reply with quote

trickg wrote:
...
So here's my thought. I have 700-800 charts from the wedding band, most of which were arranged off of the original radio recording. I think I'm going to find a few of those that I know will be fun and challenging, and get him going on those first with the idea of backing into some of the fundamentals.
...


*I would be interested* in this, even though I have no objections doing fundamentals drills. I've got my first lesson in awhile scheduled here locally, but maybe after the first of the upcoming year if you are amenable I might reach out.
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HaveTrumpetWillTravel
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the idea of focusing on music. I think you could add in technique to work on him: "this next piece is in e, so let's quick run through that," "if you want to play with guitarists you need to learn B," "metronome really makes a difference with timing--let's try that," etc.
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm looking forward to it. From what I've been told, he's a lot like I was at that age - he's in 8th grade, really enjoys playing, has good power and range and loves the fact that he can play higher and louder than any of his classmates.


I started in 4th grade. By 5th grade, my high school sister asked me if I could play the trumpet part for their high school Broadway show programs. Sure, no problem. I get to high school. No lessons. Worked my way up the chain to first trumpet, lead in the jazz band and all that stuff. No lessons. In fact no practice. Just played in every band, both in school and with the bar band on the side. Does this kid really need anything? Find out first. Adapt the program to his needs and his interests. All that fundamental stuff might work. But think of the old days where a player took a young guy under his wing. Mentoring seems to have gone out the window with college standardization and the establishment of mediocrity.
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Brad361
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Billy B wrote:
I always tell the new student this story.

When little kids begin playing soccer they just run around the field, following the ball with no understanding of playing positions, how to pass the ball, structuring plays, or anything about fundamentals. The just want to kick the ball with no regard to fundamentals. When they get to about 7th or 8th grade the coaches get down to the nitty gritty. Hours of drills and technique development with a relatively small amount of actual playing of the game. This is when over 50% of kids quit because they don't want to learn fundamentals, they just want to have fun. Those that have the maturity to work hard on the fundamentals become good players. Those that don't, well........... Now which would YOU rather be?

You are the teacher.

He is the student.


THIS.
And I’m stealing it.😎

Brad
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royjohn
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2021 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a very interesting thread to me, tho' I have no advice to add. I'd be very interested to hear what happens in the first and subsequent lessons with this student, if the OP is willing to carry on this thread. Might be helpful to a lot of teachers starting out.
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Seymor B Fudd
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2021 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Every kid needs to connect, to attach so in my view establishing a relation is the number one priority. You will have to provide a common playground where you can meet and begin to play. Your´e the grown up with tons of life experience, besides that being the possible magician who in some more or less mysterious ways is going to teach him how to practice witchcraft himself.
The sorcerer and his apprentice. This is the meta perspective!

So - making him curious while slowly introducing the basic tricks ( ) of the trade might be a feasible way. What kind of tricks seems to be necessary? Breathing support? Mouthpiece placement? Technical issues? Timing excercises? (does he possess that elusive "gift"). And whatever.

His own goals? Where does he want to see himself 2025?

From your experience you can tell him that....so and so; if you want to, then you will have to....ect etc.

In so many words: build an alliance! After that things will more or less solve themselves!
Once you were that kid: use that experience! (Not implying that you should approach him as a youngster - be the guy you are).

And good luck!
ps: you can´t win them all
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2021 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OrangeDreamsicle wrote:
Not sure how good this is, but would he be responsive to you giving him just a couple exercises a lesson to work on a bit? Maybe if you explain that it'll make him more expressive, etc. in the music he wants to play, he might be more willing to a little practice on fundamentals he needs if he understands that it'll help him to play music he likes better. If that ends up working, I'd assume you can gradually give him more work from that point. Maybe not something for everyone, but it's a big motivator for me to practice that it'll make me enjoy the music I like to play more when I can play it better.


Yes!
Match an exercise to the problem areas in the music the student is learning.
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trickg
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been a few days since I've jumped on to the forum, and things have taken on an interesting twist.

The kid got his braces off about a week ago, and apparently he's now struggling to play. Now that the braces are off, everything changed, and I guess he's pretty frustrated.

I "meet" with him the first time via FaceTime today, and I'm not quite sure where it will go. I had planned to give him some of my wedding band charts for something fun to work on, but at this point I may have to go back to square 1, just to get him going again on what's essentially a totally shifted embouchure.

I'll see what he's got when I meet him.

Richard - I was much like you. I got better by playing, and it was only in 11th and 12th grade that I started to systematically work on anything. Even then I never really did to many drills - I just really focused on what I was working on, and practiced to improve it doing the normal things - playing slow and slowly working up the speed, and that kind of thing.
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RandyTX
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2021 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can remember very well what this kid is going through.

Braces were a heck of a lot more painful back in the 80's, wires sticking out everywhere, including the back of the chops, none of that invisalign magic like today. No amount of the wax the orthodontist gave you to stick on the exposed wires (which melted almost as soon as put it on the wires) did much to help playing a trumpet.

Even though it took years for the calluses to disappear from all that wire damage to the back of my lips , it was when I got the braces removed that I felt most lost with a trumpet in my hand.

Suddenly everything felt completely foreign. Yeah, I was glad not to be stabbed in the lip with a wire anymore, but my teeth felt like they were constantly in motion, there was too much room betweem them and my chops. All of a sudden everything was out of whack.

For a few weeks I felt completely lost and barely able to play at all. The good news is eventually you get used to it and even have a chance to relearn to play, without the bad habits induced by the alignment issues that necessitated the braces in the first place.
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Patrick Hasselbank
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2021 12:26 am    Post subject: Re: Taking on a Facetime Student Reply with quote

trickg wrote:
As the title of the thread says, it appears that I will be taking on a student soon, with the kicker that this kid lives 1500 miles away in my Nebraska hometown. The school band teacher is a friend of mine - she's a woodwind player and wanted to know if I'd be willing to give it a go because she's just not sure what to do with him.

I'm looking forward to it. From what I've been told, he's a lot like I was at that age - he's in 8th grade, really enjoys playing, has good power and range and loves the fact that he can play higher and louder than any of his classmates.

Here's the kicker though - he loves to play, but I've been told that he dislikes the idea of working scales and method book exercises - the kind of structured work that at some point he's really going to need if he decides to continue to pursue it. I don't think I'm going to be able to come out of the gate with, "here - work on this Clarke Technical Study, and page #123 from the Arban's book."

So here's my thought. I have 700-800 charts from the wedding band, most of which were arranged off of the original radio recording. I think I'm going to find a few of those that I know will be fun and challenging, and get him going on those first with the idea of backing into some of the fundamentals. That way he can crank up the tune, play the chart, and have a lot of good fun while doing it. I think that keeping it fun is going to be the key initially.

Ultimately, if he wants to get to a point where he's not only good among his immediate peers, but good on a larger scale, I'm going to have to find a way to get him to work on the important things -

Articulation
Lip slurs
Long tones
Phrasing
Dynamics
Breath control
etc.

And also how to properly practice so that the practice is productive and not damaging.

Anyone else have any thoughts regarding this?


I think the only problems that can be are: internet connectivity and student discipline! If he really wants to learn something, if he well talented and well motivated everything will be good! According to news of COVID-19 it will be our routine for 3-4 years to work/live from home. Just enjoy new feelings!
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trickg
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2021 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally had an introduction with the kid yesterday. Super nice kid, but I have my work cut out for me.

Based on some observations, it seems he plays almost entirely by ear, and he's struggling with some pretty basic things. He knows a C scale, but not much else.

He does have some range, although he lost about a 4th to a 5th when his braces came off, so right now he's got about a G at the top of the staff.

I gave him some very very basic things to work on as a means to get his chops refocused, and I sent him some of the easier wedding band charts to play with.

As much as he says he doesn't want to do "scales scales scales," as he says his piano teacher puts it, if he's going to make progress, he needs to work on some of those fundamentals - at present he needs to clean up his articulation, and he needs to get his fingers and his tongue synced a bit better.

I do want to keep it fun for him, but he's going to have to find a balance between doing the important work so that the fun part is easier and even more fun.
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