Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2008 08:42:56 -0500
From: "Daniel, John" <>
Subject: Re: [TPIN] trumpet teaching/college level

"You are not just teaching slurs, tonguing and high notes."

I couldn't agree more.  I feel sorry for those students who want "the answers" and think a teacher should be able to prescribe a course of study or exercises that will solve their problems perfectly.  Of course when they are young and just getting started, that is exactly what we need to do for them. Even in college, sometimes a student is messed up and needs very specific instruction. Usually by the time they get to college, they have been told what to do and how to practice and they have had an opportunity to reflect on the results.  Ultimately, we have to learn to teach ourselves so as a college trumpet teacher I try to begin that process.

For example, rather than prescribe a warm up routine I will go through a variety of materials with each student and let them make their own routines.  When we start in a new etude book I will assign the first few in a specific order to get them going, then I will assign several and let them learn them in whatever order seems good to them.  I might give them a whole pile of orchestra excerpts and tell them to learn a couple for next week.  If they are too high for them I will encourage them to learn them in a lower key.  That way, if they really like an excerpt we will find a way to work on it and learn something from it.

Of course it isn't a total free for all.  They know they have to warm up and make some routines for themselves. They know they need material prepared for every lesson. And they know I will watch the overall picture to make sure they don't neglect anything for long periods, like multiple tonguing, range or transposition.  I tend to make them transpose in every lesson as a practice tool, and they get used to it.

So far this year I have suggested to two public schoolstudents a switch from a 7C to a 5C.  In each case, it was their initial idea and after hearing the larger mouthpieces I agreed the sound and response were better.  Range and endurance didn't suffer, just a little familiarity was a temporary issue.  Two college students have switched from 3C's to 5C or a Laskey equivalent.  And a couple have switched to Laskey equivalents of what they already were playing.  But I've never insisted on any mouthpiece changes and I don't even encourage students to play on equipment that I like, unless what they are doing isn't working and they need a suggestion.

I get out and play as much as my schedule and energy level will allow.  Last year I played recital tours from memory  that included Juilliard, Eastman, Ithaca, Yale, Syracuse, Baylor, TCU, the Univ. of Iowa, etc.  Last week I was a last minute replacement for Chris Jaudes in a group called "SOLID BRASS" that was touring Wisconsin, so I got to play with some full time pros from NYC.  But the fact is, I can't do two jobs at once.  I can't be a full time trumpet teacher and play the trumpet for a living full time, so my students will just have to "make do" studying with someone who doesn't play full time for a living.

If the full time players on the list are inclined to grind an axe about college teachers who have never played full time, maybe the college teachers could start grinding an axe about the players who have never taught full time for a living.  Obviously, this is just silly and counterproductive.  I try to focus on what music is about and what it's role on the planet and in our lives is about and let my playing and teaching reflect some of this awareness.

I couldn't get through a single day of teaching without pointing a student towards the efforts of a full time professional trumpet player.  Conversely, without the music instruction very few full time players would have an audience or would have become great players without the full time teachers.

I tell my students that our career is based on three things;  our ability, our passion, and opportunity (what the market will bear).

And since the pot has been stirred, let me offer the observation that a lot of full time players play large mouthpieces.  The American Brass Quintet is on campus this week and both Ray Mase and Kevin Cobb play large Bach mouthpieces. This isn't something that a bunch of ignorant college teachers have made up, it came from the real world, or at least some fraction of the real world.  I am loathe to switch anyone to larger equipment.  I have performance majors playing everything from 1C down to 7C and playing in sections together just fine.  I agree with Mike Vax that bigger isn't better with mouthpieces, and I agree with Mike that college trumpet teachers are often the first to confront a student about the issue of mouthpiece size.  But bigger isn't worse either, and switching to a larger mouthpiece isn't necessarily a bad idea.  I just think it is largely beside the point for most players at that level.

Allen Vizzutti told me before he got out of LA he subbed with the LA Phil.  Before the first rehearsal he got a 1C and learned the part on that, because there were some really loud moments and there was no other way for him to fit in.  He mentioned this in the context of a discusion about mouthpiece size to say we shouldn't be biased, but should keep an open mind. (He is fairly proactive about not playing anything bigger than necessary.)

For me, I've learned something from every mouthpiece I've tried to play and as a full time teacher of the trumpet I think I owe it to my students to know what's out there and give it a blow.  But I like doing that and it doesn't mess  me up so I wouldn't suggest that every trumpet teacher do it.

As long as we are pot stirring, lets make sure we getthings thoroughly stirred up!:):):):):)