Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004 05:55:34 EST
Subject: [TPIN] Jens Lindemann trumpet rant

Time for another one of my rants...I must be jet-lagged...again. Today, I would like to take on the 'Goliath' of classical sound...Bach trumpets! For many years, it has been considered an arrival point for young players when you buy your first Bach are now a professional!

My Middle School teacher had one and I still remember seeing it every day at the front of the band room on it's tall Holton stand. He would play cool excerpts from Jay Chattaway wind ensemble charts...we all wanted to be just like him. The very first trumpet I bought was a Czech made horn called a Musica (if anyone knows any specs about these horns, please do NOT write was a terrible instrument although I didn't know it at the time). I was 12 years old and I bought that horn because it had a cool thumb ring on the first valve slide just like my band teacher's Bach. My rented school horn didn't have that ring so this one must have been better.

Finally, I bought a Silver plated 37 standard Bach when I was 14. Why did I buy that horn? Because that's what the local pros played! I had that trumpet for one year before I switched to the new pro-line Yamaha that had just come out with gold-like lacquer because I though it looked better. Serial number 001010...I thought that was cool too...I used it as a P.I.N. on bank cards all through college...what a trumpet geek.

All through high school, I was one of the only ones playing a Yamaha. I played that horn because it was different...I wanted to be different. The more people said I should play a Bach because that's what the pros played, the less I wanted to play a Bach. It became a badge of honor to be different. Instead of trying to be different, I should have been practising more...E major wouldn't be as difficult today.

When I left my hometown and ventured out into the world of university abroad, summer music schools and international competitions, I discovered that there were Bachs everywhere...a veritable Bach invasion around the world. Let's face it, local classical players are influenced by and large by local symphony players who measure themselves by other symphony players up the proverbial orchestra ladder until you hit the 'Big Five'. Ominous sounding term like the are just supposed to know who they are without needing to talk about it and when you learn those five cities, you have moved up a notch in trumpet cool. Anyone who says they were not influenced in some way by the trumpeters in those orchestras and their equipment specs is lying. It's like learning the Periodic have to know it even if you never use it.

Now the fun part, the mythic Bach sound. Yup, I heard it and felt it when I was 14. When did you experience it? That magical tone streaming from my bell had me destined for an orchestra if only I could play in E major. The last time I checked, it was "Phil Smith sounds great" not "Phil-Smith -sounds-great-playing- a-229H-with- slightly-shortened -first-valve-slide" I'm just guessing here folks, but I bet Phil Smith would sound great on my aforementioned Musica...even if he didn't like playing it very much. I would also venture a guess that Phil Smith sounds pretty good because he might have his fundamentals figured out.

My suggestion here is that it is up to the next generation to decide what trumpets should be played as 'standards'. An instrument should not be purchased based on the 'compromise' notes that you 'just-get-used-to' by lipping slightly. Some of you will understand that statement immediately, others will figure it out after going through their Periodic Tables. We are now in a new millenium and there are new standards that need to be considered. Instrument design has improved radically and there are people out there who have made a science out of studying subtle nuances that will improve the overall resonance of a horn. Not snake charming quick fixes but people with long term staying power. You have to find out who these people is part of your trumpet curriculum and it should not be a surprise when you discover that it is an extremely short list. Don't be afraid to break the mold...great playing and individual musicality is what is ultimately rewarded in our industry and a shift in the status quo is a natural part of any cycle. Don't believe me?

Look at the history of democracy itself. Something about the sun never setting on a certain empire...

Jens Lindemann

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