FAQs

About This Site

Q. Why is your site devoted to classical trumpet playing? Don’t you teach jazz or lead playing?

Classical playing is my area of primary expertise. In the same way that I would not advise my students to consult a commercial musician about the development of a healthy orchestral sound unless he/she possessed an extensive performing background in this arena, at this time I have chosen to avoid making a public statement about the best materials for jazz or lead trumpet playing. However, I do teach basic jazz improvisation when requested and have played my share of “commercial” music. If this is an area of interest for you, please email me and I will be happy to offer some suggestions.

Q. You claim to have experience with college students, but much of the advice on this site is geared towards high school and middle school students. Why?

I am very excited to be making plans to join the faculty of Ball State University in the fall of 2013. However, my college students will have their own dedicated site once this move takes place. I have therefore decided to reserve The Trumpet Pedagogy Project, at least for the time being, for readers at other stages of development.

Q. I’m a lead player. Does your site have anything on it that would help me?

Possibly, especially if you’re not yet in college. Lead playing is a specialization that is best developed only after you have established a healthy foundation for the rest of your trumpet playing. Most college trumpet professors will want you to be able to play in the staff with a good sound and a full dynamic range, regardless of whatever else you can do. If these areas of your playing are weak, then browse the website; you might find something of interest.

Q. I am the author of a method book for trumpet. Will you include my book in your list of recommended materials?

The list of recommended materials on this site is by no means exhaustive. If I were to list every book I respect, the list would be overwhelming to my students. Therefore, it is unlikely that I will endorse your text on this site. However, I am always on the lookout for new pedagogical solutions and may be willing to give your book a trial run in my studio. If you would like me to review your materials for consideration, please e-mail me at brittanyhendricks@yahoo.com.

Q. I am interested in trumpet lessons. How can I find out more about that?

Please email me at brittanyhendricks@yahoo.com. Although I cannot personally take on new full-time students, I would be happy to recommend an alternative teacher who is suited to your ability level and personal goals. If you are a high school trumpet student who is considering Ball State as a place to study, I would also love to hear from you!

Q. How can I hear you play?

You can find clips from my recent performances on my home site, brittanyhendricks.com. Additionally, I periodically schedule solo recitals and/or solo appearances. Please contact me or check the most recent posts in the archives (see sidebar) for the most up-to-date information.

 

Beginning Trumpet Students

Q. My son/daughter has recently selected the trumpet as his instrument in band. How can we find an instrument for him to play?

A. Please visit the Equipment page for my recommendations on instrument brands and considerations when purchasing a trumpet. Your local music store and/or band director will usually be able to connect you with a good selection of trumpets. I would advise this route before consulting eBay or Craigslist, but you can sometimes find good deals online if you know what to look for.

Q. How much should a trumpet player practice every day?

A. As much as possible! I ask for 20 minutes daily (minimum) from my beginners, to increase to 30 minutes daily by the end of the first year. I often recommend that brand new beginners break this up into sessions of 10 minutes each. However, the students who advance the fastest are always the ones who begin practicing an hour a day as soon as their facial muscles can manage it. A student who wishes to major in trumpet performance in college should be practicing at least one to two hours daily in order to prepare for college auditions. This does not include time spent in other commitments, such as marching band. Most high school seniors are incredibly busy and balk at this suggestion, but the reality is that for a professional trumpet player, time logged practicing in high school translates directly into money for groceries down the road. A college performance major cannot afford to be playing catch-up.

Q. Who are some trumpet players that my son/daughter should listen to?

A. Please visit the Sound page, which contains several links to the websites of reputable players.

Q. The trumpet in our house is TOO LOUD!! Where can we buy a mute?

A. Please do not ask your beginning trumpet student to use a practice mute. Practice mutes drastically change the resistance of the instrument, making it much more difficult to produce a sound and absolutely impossible to develop a concept of good tone. Remember that the more your student practices without a mute, the sooner the trumpet will begin to sound like something you want to listen to. If the noise level is a problem for the neighbors or the rest of your family, you can ask your band director or church/synagogue for a spare room to play in. Many of these places, if you ask, will be happy to accommodate practice time. As a last resort, I have also been known to practice in my car.

Q. My daughter wants to play the trumpet, but I am worried about whether she will fit in. Are there very many women who play the trumpet?

A. This is probably one of the top five questions I receive when I perform as a soloist, and I always find it rather amusing. Today’s music world does contain a number of extremely talented female trumpet players, several of whom can be heard through the links on the sound page. If your daughter is considering the trumpet, I would advise her to go ahead and learn it; she will have no more or less difficulty than her male counterparts (if she practices). I do think, however, that today’s young women face a complex set of challenges when entering the academic and professional world, and I have found that the type of woman who selects the trumpet is often (not always) going to encounter these challenges headlong. To this end, I highly recommend that parents and teachers of adolescent girls read Dr. Stephen Hinshaw’s book The Triple Bind, which I have found to provide a very accurate summation of the pressures acting upon today’s young women.

Q. I just started playing the trumpet. Do you have a fingering chart?

Yes. The link is here.

Advanced Students

Q. Is it time to upgrade to a professional-quality trumpet? (In other words, please tell my mom to buy me a Bach Strad!!)

Please read the page on Choosing A Trumpet. The information at the bottom of this page is directly related to this question.

Q. What do I need to know about playing in marching band?

Marching band can be a wonderful experience in many ways. The music that most bands play on the field goes directly to the heart of why trumpet players choose the trumpet: they are the impact in the show, the stars of the high register, the most frequent soloists, and usually front and center. However, marching band also presents certain dangers: the posture that most bands demand for visual uniformity and projection can create challenges for students with weak embouchures, and the need for projection combined with the save-the-day mentality that many trumpet players naturally possess can tempt students to play both louder and higher than their development really allows. When students push past their limits, often without realizing it since they may not be able to hear themselves in a noisy stadium, they often find themselves with sore, swollen lips, airy sound quality, or a severely damaged high register (i.e. they can only play high notes loudly, and never with an easy and resonant sound). Having coached the trumpet line for two years with The University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band, I have a very high regard for the role that marching band plays in trumpet players’ lives and I encourage my students to enjoy the experience. But I also caution them to balance their practicing. A serious trumpet player with aspirations that go beyond high school band should NEVER rely on marching rehearsal for warm-ups, even if the band plays warm-up exercises together. First trumpet players in particular need to make the time to play through the full range of their instrument slowly, on their own terms and at a reduced dynamic level, before joining the band on the field. This may mean warming up at home or arriving at practice early. It may mean buzzing in the car on the mouthpiece on the way to school. It may mean playing a few notes in the car in the parking lot. But it is worth the inconvenience, because delving into the high register too quickly will create swelling and response problems. Additionally, trumpet players in marching band need to make absolutely certain that they are playing softly for an extended period of time in their practice sessions. The Fundamentals exercises posted on this site were created for the Million Dollar Band trumpet line and are intended to provide a counterbalance to the demands of the field.

Q. How do I know if I should major in music during college?

A. A career in music is not for the faint at heart. It is absolutely worth the effort, but only if you are highly committed to the instrument. It has famously been said that you should only go into music if you can see yourself doing nothing else; I would add that this does not necessarily mean you should go into music just because it’s the only thing you are “good at.” Many people have abilities that have made them good at playing the trumpet, such as persistence and competitive drive, that can be easily applied to other fields. When you choose to pursue the trumpet professionally, you are making a whole host of other choices—choices about where and how you will live, how you will spend your evenings and your holidays, and what will drive your priorities—that you may not even realize you have made until ten years later. Too many students see only the immediate future; they choose to study music in college without really thinking about where that will land them after college. Think carefully about the life you will have as a professional musician—find some professionals to ask about their daily lives if you aren’t sure what it will entail. Only you can determine if you might want to live that life. The ones who succeed in music are often the last ones standing, and the sacrifices they make along the way are tremendous. But then again, when a person is in love with something, there is often no dissuading him, and his sacrifices will be worth the cost.

 Q. What should I do to prepare for college auditions?

A. College auditions vary widely depending on your aspirations. Most schools post a list of audition requirements on their websites, and you should consult these lists before asking anyone else for input; knowing what a school has asked for reflects well on you because it makes you look like you have done your homework. Many schools simply want to hear the twelve major scales and two contrasting pieces of music, but sometimes the list is more extensive. Some of the schools where I auditioned ask for specific pieces of music. Find out if such requirements exist and then think about what you want to play. All-State music is not usually a good idea if you are trying to major in music, especially if you are auditioning for a school in your state, because it gives the impression that you were too busy learning the All-State music to learn anything else–not a great advertisement for your ability to handle the load of a college curriculum. An ideal audition piece is something that shows off the best of what you can do on the trumpet, something that is likely to sound great even under pressure. If you are taking private lessons (which is a very good idea if you can afford them), you should consult your teacher to help you select your audition repertoire. You should also, prior to your audition, contact the teachers at the schools where you plan to apply. Taking lessons at the college level is about entering into a four-year one-on-one relationship with your trumpet professor–you want to make sure that you find the right fit. If possible, ask this person for a lesson several months in advance of your audition. It is not a good idea to try to get a lesson on the day of the audition because the teacher will probably be too busy. Also, it is a point in your favor if you have a lesson with someone in October and then come back to audition in January having made substantial progress in your playing. This strategy can be a double-edged sword, however; if a teacher tells you to fix something and then you don’t make any progress towards fixing it, you can leave a poor impression that might damage your chances for admission. It should go without saying that if you are planning to apply to college as a music major, you need to have more than one option in case you don’t audition well or don’t receive enough financial aid at your top school. It should also go without saying that if your current private teacher advises you against auditioning somewhere, tells you not to play a certain piece at your audition, or believes that someone else has given you faulty advice, you need to take your teacher’s concerns to heart. This is a person who knows you, knows the business, and has already made a substantial investment in your future. Think twice before dismissing what that person has to say.

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2 thoughts on “FAQs

  1. Mike Hillman
    August 14, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Very Nice Web site. I play and teach privately with some success. I have a pedagogical question.
    I have a young student who is very musical but she chews her notes. Her bottom jaw moves markedly when she tongues. She is in the 7th grade and we have tried many different approaches. I have had her watch herself in a mirror and she swears the tongue is touching right behind the to front teeth.
    She is wearing braces and I’m not sure if that effects her tongue.
    Have you ever had a similar problem in a student.

    Good Luck at Ball State

  2. bmhendr1
    August 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks for your question! I haven’t had a lot of chewing students within my own studio, but I do have some thoughts. Having not seen/heard your student, I would hypothesize that the articulation is probably a trigger for the jaw motion, but that, indeed, her tongue is striking at the right point (you can try it yourself; it’s quite possible to articulate as you or I normally would and also chew, and it’s important to note that many of us DO move our jaws when we play, just not in the gratuitous manner you’re describing–try tonguing octave intervals).

    I would be curious to see if she does the same thing with a breath attack. You might have her play (for instance) a C scale, all slurred, with an initial inhalation through the nose and a breath attack on the first note (leave her tongue out of the mix entirely). From this test you could observe (1) whether the jaw motion is connected to her intake of air through the mouth; and (2) whether she habitually moves the jaw to change any note, or only the articulated ones. If she can’t do that much without chewing, this should tell you what the real problem might be (and you might have some new inspiration for how to fix it). If she can play the scale smoothly, however, I would then have her start on the highest note she can comfortably hit with a breath attack and tongue a series of repeated pitches, with another initial inhalation through the nose and a breath attack on the first note. Most likely, she isn’t going to be able to hang onto the high note and also chew the articulations (which is not the case with, say, low C).

    As you can gather from my suggestion above, my typical approach to a problem like this is to assign something that is playable only if the student is using efficient technique. I don’t like to talk about anatomy with my young students if I can help it, because as humans we inevitably tend to over-correct. So I wouldn’t tell her what to do with her tongue, I would simply find something that she could only play if her tongue was operating correctly and then I would build outward from there. If she can play a particular pitch with a breath attack, she obviously has the chops to hit it. But if she can’t tongue a series of eighth notes on that pitch because of the excessive jaw motion, then she will have to intuitively figure out how to accomplish this. You can then direct her attention to the elements of what she is doing that should remain constant as she expands this technique to the rest of her range. (You may find that Cichowicz-style “wind patterns” help with this: without the instrument, have her form an embouchure and reproduce the desired airstream and articulation without making a buzz.)

    I hope this is a helpful starting point–please feel free to write back with an update or further questions!

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