Launched in 2011, The Trumpet Pedagogy Project outlines the fundamental components of a mainstream (“classical”) approach to trumpet performance. Its goal is twofold: first, to provide any instructor or student with enough information to build a healthy foundation and to make informed decisions about equipment and methodology; and, second, to provide my own trumpet students with a set of resources that will supplement their private lessons. The principles set forth on this site will work only in conjunction with consistent practice and application; there are no “shortcuts.” Though the approach set forth here is essentially “classical” in nature, it will work equally well for pre-college players whose interests lie outside the realm of classical performance.
There is nothing so important for early musical training as private lessons from a qualified instructor. Today, however, there are families who cannot afford lessons, students without access to a teacher, and teachers of trumpet whose real expertise lies elsewhere–all of whom must find some way to navigate the habit-forming stages of early trumpet pedagogy without forming habits that will prove debilitating in the long run. There are also students who have chosen to pursue a professional career in music, whose teachers and parents must now confront a host of issues that may be unfamiliar.
The internet is full of advice about all of these issues. Most notably (and perhaps most enjoyably) are the open forums on sites like TrumpetHerald.com and TrumpetMaster.com, or the myriad how-to videos on YouTube.com, all of which provide endless food for thought for curious students. I highly encourage my students to explore these resources and to come into their lessons with questions about whatever sparks their interest.
Unfortunately, the nature of the trumpet, which depends so much on physical processes that are invisible to the naked eye, makes it impossible to find any kind of consensus about how to play it. Furthermore, its use in both the classical and commercial idioms has led to methodologies that often differ dramatically. The casual Internet reader may therefore get the sense that “whatever works for you” is the best path forward. And when this reader is not a trumpet player with enough experience to make an informed judgment, problems can result.
Certainly, there are many more established pedagogues than I whose online advice is both reputable and reliable, and who are better qualified to teach on certain subjects. This site is not intended to replace or dispute what they have to say, and indeed it would be presumptuous to try. However, years of pedagogy have proven that phrasing is everything, and the same student, at a loss to understand one teacher’s meaning, may be able to grasp the same concept through the words of another. In the hope that my particular approach will prove to be the key for even one student, I therefore add my voice to theirs.
Dr. Brittany Hendricks holds degrees in performance from Northwestern University (B.M., 2007), Arizona State University (M.M., 2009), and The University of Alabama (D.M.A., 2013). She was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Trumpet at Ball State University, where she teaches applied trumpet and performs with the Da Camera Brass Quintet. As a private instructor, Brittany has worked with students of all age and ability levels: beginners, college music majors, high school students applying for degrees in performance, “problem” students struggling to fix major flaws in their playing, and “comeback” players, to name a few. Her methods are the result of continuous experimentation in her own practice sessions, crossed with the wisdom handed down by her teachers, most notably Richard Giangiulio, Barbara Butler, Charles Geyer, David Hickman, and Eric Yates.