Teaching children trumpet playing

The Danish trumpeter Michael Brydenfelt is well educated in music. He started his trumpet studies at The Royal Danish Conservatory and later he continued studying with Bo Nilsson (Sweden) and Pierre Thibaud (at the Paris Conservatory). He also studied for shorter periods with other well known trumpet artists, like David Hickman.

In his short soloist career he has received several prizes. In Denmark he got some exclusive scholarships.

He is already a well established soloist in large parts of the world, both as a recitalist and as a soloist with leading orchestra.

At a seminar with Michael in Oslo, that Norwegian Trumpet Forum hosted (February 5th - 7th 1999), he told an interesting story:

How he teaches beginners to play trumpet.

Michael was asked by some parents if he could teach their children trumpet, or if he knew of someone who could do that. It was 4 children, all 10 years old, one girl and three boys. Their parents were all musicians. Michael enjoy teaching and decided that he would do it himself.

"When they arrived for their first lesson I was already practicing on my trumpet, playing in the high register. I pretended that I had some problems with hitting the low notes. As a result they all started playing high notes on the trumpet. They though it was the easy thing to do. Low notes they had some difficulty with, they had heard my "trouble" with it. I have had them for two years and they are now 12 years old. All can play from the Haydn Trumpet Concerto and they all hit the high E flat in the first movement."

All four started with standard Bb trumpets and all got a Bach 1 ¼ mouthpiece. The smallest of the pupils, the girl, had trouble with the breathing in the beginning. She would restrict the air with an IIICH type of sound. To help her get a more open OOOH inhale, Michael took the roll from inside toilet paper and had her breath in and out through it. With such a device it is impossible to close the throat. Very soon she was able to breath in a more open an effective way.

Michael teaches all 4 in a group lesson every other week. This type of "master class" or group teaching is something that he has good experience with from the Paris Conservatory.

All the time he has demonstrated things and they have imitated. "I am a firm believer in learning by watching and I have always had great pleasure from my teachers demonstrations. One should also laugh and have a good time. I often make "skæg" in the lessons" (skæg = to have fun)

He has never told them that anything are difficult. Naturally, they cannot play Carnival in Venice as fast as Wynton Marsalis, but Michael has all the time tried to give them the feeling that it is easy as opposed to a lot of the traditional teaching that keep telling how difficult things can be. The so called "Inner Game" books have been one of his inspiration for this kind of thinking and pedagogy. The first book, Inner Game of Tennis by Tim Gallway, is in Michael's opinion the best.

O.J. - 1999