The Importance of Listening and Developing a Sound Concept

 

After listening to many clinics, podcasts, and masterclasses, as well as talking to friends, one concept remains consistent in all these forms of information/knowledge distribution: sound and/or tone is one of the most important aspects of being an instrumentalist. As Dr. Dennis Edelbrock simply explained it, "sound is our signature". Without a good sound concept, how can one move forward in their musical and instrumental development? Another pedagogue and well-respected trumpeter, Jim Pandolfi, explained that if you have a good sound and tone, you will not suffer from intonation woes and will also find that playing the horn will be much easier and effortless! If you'd like to hear more about Jim Pandolfi's concept and views of sound, check out this Monster Oil Brass Chats interview.

HOW DO YOU DEVELOP A GOOD SOUND CONCEPT?

The answer to this question is simply LISTENING! How are you supposed to know what good trumpet playing sounds like if you don't have good references? Listen to trumpeters you look up to and enjoy listening to, listen to trumpeters your teacher recommends, and also listen to non-trumpeters as well. You may find qualities from different trumpeters you like that you would like to put emulate in your own playing. It's OK to pick and choose. As for non-trumpeters you should listen to, this is for you to develop a musical (phrasing) concept. I'd recommend non-trumpeters like jazz vocalists, vocalists from various Broadway musicals, opera singers, violinists, cellists, and etc. 

AUDIOPHILE?

Although YouTube is a fantastic source of many excellent recordings, it is not the best place to hear superb audio fidelity. Even Spotify and Google Music are great but fall short of great audio quality. The compression of the video and audio cause the recordings to have a lower quality than what you would find on a record, cassette tape, or sometimes CDs. I would suggest visiting Naxos Music Library (you will need a subscription), downloading high-quality recordings from iTunes (yes, you will have to pay for each track or album), ripping music from a CD, or listening to vinyl records or cassettes with a good set of speakers or headphones. I'm not that much of a stickler when it comes to audio quality, but if it bothers you and your listening experience, do any of the listed. Even just upgrading your set of headphones or earbuds to a more expensive or higher quality set may improve your listening experience. Same goes for speakers. Computer/laptop speakers and smartphone speakers are great if you're on-the-go, but having something a bit bigger and with larger drivers and bass will make a world of difference to what you're listening to.

DEFICIENCIES IN LISTENING...

From my own observations and experience, many students neglect to listen to recordings to supplement what they're practicing or preparing for their lessons with their private instructor. A teacher may mention listening to recordings to students, but not remind them consistently as it is assumed that they are doing so. For lessons I've taught the past 2 years at University of Iowa to both majors and non-majors, I made sure to assign "listening assignments" to the students so that they could further develop their sound concept. It's important to take time off the horn as you do practicing on the horn. Practicing doesn't necessarily just mean playing your instrument; it could also mean listening to music or doing score study on pieces you are working on. Remember that developing your own unique sound and listening will take time. It may take longer for one person to produce a sound that is favorable to him/her than another person who is much quicker to emulate a sound desired. There is no race on this important aspect of playing any instrument; it's a characteristic of being a musician/instrumentalist that we all must continue to improve on no matter where we are in our musical careers. In this post, I've embedded a video of a recent recital performed by David Krauss (principal trumpet of Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in NYC) and Chris Martin (principal trumpet of New York Philharmonic). I've also embedded a trumpet listening playlist containing many different styles of trumpet playing for anyone who wants a variety of music listen to. See below. You can also find these playlists in the Resources Page if this blog post gets bumped down by a newer one.

Enjoy the recordings provided here in this post, but remember to always be curious and to expand your palette of recordings outside of what's provided here and outside of what your teacher or others tell you. If you have suggestions of videos to be added to this listening playlist, comment below and I'd be happy to add them.

It's Been A While

Long time no see...

It's been a while since I've last posted (over a year, in fact)! I have been busy finishing up my course work towards earning my master's degree in trumpet performance, taking auditions, and making final preparations for my move down to my new home in Austin, Texas. I'll be working as a freelancer and private trumpet instructor in the area for the next several years and am eager to begin work in a few weeks!

Updates to the website

As you can see, I've made many updates to the website. Now that I have a bit more "brain-power", expect to see this website and its contents be more up-to-date than it has. I now only have to be concerned about performing, teaching, and successfully adulting.

Here are the highlights of the website's updates:

  • New content in Recordings page including videos and audio
  • Photos is a separate page now from what was the Media page
    • Still not sure how I'll organize these photos... lots of clutter!
  • Up-to-date bio and a new bio photo (finally!)
  • New banner photos in several sections of the website
  • Updated the Lessons page (more to be added as time passes)
    • To be added:
      • A section for private students and parents to access for materials
  • Added a Resources page for anyone to peruse (more to be added as time passes)
    • 2 YouTube Playlists
      • Trumpet Listening Playlist
        • If you have suggestions on what to add to the playlist, please do not hesitate to comment below. I selected these particular videos as they not only have excellent quality audio, but show video for students and others to observe how other trumpeters perform and play. I will try and add new videos as I find them or receive suggestions
      • Trumpet Masterclass/Interview Playlist
        • These videos are ones that I find important and that have helped me along my journey as a trumpeter. I still refer back to these every once in a while to get inspiration or be reminded of concepts that I may have forgotten. Like the other playlist, please type up any suggestions in the comments section below for anything you think would be worth adding

Updates to the Blog

You may have noticed that the blog has been renamed to Grumpet Blog. It's just a mix of the first letter of my last name (Gorder) and trumpet. I think it is a more unique and personal title for my blog. After I get settled in Austin, I'd like to have at least 1 to 2 posts each week like I have done last year. I don't want to limit my blog to just be on the idea of international brass groups, but to anything brass, trumpet, and pedagogy related. This may include a student or students of the week, a cool video I found, or another person's blog post I found to be an interesting read. It could be just about anything within the criteria I listed above. Hope to have you tag along with a much more consistent blog schedule.

Trumpet Book

I've been chipping away on a book of my own for trumpet students of any levels. The idea is still raw and in its early stages, but as I have a more refined draft and idea, I will post updates in here! Right now, I can give you a general idea and inspiration of why I've decided to begin writing a book. It may be a long process, but I'm willing to devote time, energy, and money on getting this book published! 

So my inspiration is that there is a deficiency in the amount of books that provide detailed explanations on what to look and listen for when playing a specific exercise and also HOW to play exercises included. Furthermore, many trumpet books that exist (many are great) are ineffective without the guidance of a teacher. I think that at a certain point in a child or student's development, he or she can take charge of their own learning and be able to teach themselves to a certain level of ability how to play trumpet. Perhaps a student does not have money to pay for a private instructor, or perhaps the person works better on their own without being told what to do by a teacher. Why not have a choice of what you can do and what you want to learn when playing trumpet? This will be done (ambitiously) through a detailed sets of instructions for individual exercises, audio instructions & demonstrations (QR code scan to a web page), and video instructions & demonstrations (QR code scan to a web page). The video and audio would be similar to what you would see in videos provided by Houghton Horns when they post videos for Texas All-State audition music.

This may all be an enormous undertaking, but I think there is a need for something like this to exist. If anyone would like to help along the way, I would probably love to collaborate or receive any assistance! Of course, this is all just a rough idea and subject to change, but I just wanted to put it all out there. For now, here's what the cover looks like at the moment:

Toot!-logo-white.png

 

See you all in the next post!

Filipino Brass Music!

This post will be short and sweet. Since in one of our last classes in ABEL, I thought about what cultural music to share, and I thought why not share the music from my home country the Philippines!

Below is a playlist of Philippine marches played by the Mabuhay Brass Brand. A fun note: "mabuhay" in our language has multiple meanings including "hello", "welcome", "live great", or "to life!" Most Filipino people are usually sun-shiny and well-tempered people, and the name "Mabuhay" reflects that positive stereotype.

Enjoy the music!