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Geezerhorn

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« on: Aug 03, 2016, 06:29AM »

I am self-taught. I am not shy about it. Pedagogy is applied directly to my own forehead via me. Some state that I hold my progress back through the trial and error process, re-inventing the wheel as I go. Easy to state. Hard to prove. 

I'm sometimes curious if there are others on TTF who are also self-taught. If you are, why? Is it as mundane as there are no qualified brass teachers in your area? Do you feel the cost is prohibitive? Would you - like me - prefer to be resourceful? Do you - like me - not have any truly great players/teachers in your area who inspire you as to the way they play, either technically or stylistically? Or is it something else; some other reason.

What are your outside resources? Do you mentor with someone who isn't technically your teacher? Do you glean information from TTF and other online places?

Are you too shy admitting you are self-taught? Are you afraid salesmen will approach you?

This thread isn't about dissing those of us who are self-taught. It's about sharing information and resources.

...Geezer
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 03, 2016, 06:44AM »

I am largely self-taught on trombone, and entirely self-taught on keyboards. It has worked out well enough for my own needs - I play mainly smaller gigs - churches, theater, quintet, etc. I did a lot of accompanying through school on piano/harpsichord/clavichord/etc. I have no aspirations of playing as a career and do it strictly for fun. I have not yet come across work I couldn't handle with the rest of the local names. That said, I do not doubt for a second that I would be better than I am now if I had applied myself and taken advantage of all lessons available in and out of school.

For me, becoming a better player at this point is not something I am looking to spend time doing.
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 03, 2016, 07:13AM »

I think anyone who isn't actively taking lessons is at least a little self-taught. I've only had a handful of lessons in the last 30 years, but I keep applying stuff I've learned to my current situation. And if you play with other people, you are probably learning stuff from them, even without formal lessons. Playing in a small group is one of the best things you can do to keep learning and improving, especially if there's a mentor type person in the group you can lean on a little.
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 03, 2016, 07:39AM »

I've given this some thought over the past 40 years. All self-taught players take great pride in figuring things out on their own.

With one notable exception, every self-taught player I'd heard has had at least one issue that could have been fixed if they had taken a few lessons. The lessons could be as simple as finding a critical listener, or lessons to show show new and better techniques.

With recording equipment, Skype and online forums, there is little need to go it alone. Personally, I saved time and learned more with the help of a teacher.

Finding the right teacher is another topic.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 03, 2016, 08:05AM »

Good, honest replies so far guys! I don't see any attempts to give subtle or passive-aggressive jabs and I agree with the comments posted.

I'll admit that I could have progressed faster if I had lessons. In the past 4 1/2 years, I've gone down one blind alley after another. The silver lining is that there is learning through mistakes and I know why something doesn't work - not just "don't do it", however thorough the explanation might be.

Has anyone ever considered taking "music lessons"? What I mean is - lessons in musicality - from a respected musician who doesn't necessarily have to be a brass player. As a young child, I had lessons. If we count that, I'm not the purest-of-pure self-taught. But it was almost 50 years ago. One of my teachers was a clarinet player and a piano player. He had music in his veins. He couldn't teach me anything about trombone playing, but I still remember his attempts at instilling a love of music into me and his attempts at coaching whatever musicality I had in me - out. I think, to this day, those lessons were just as or more valuable than any trombone teacher's efforts.

...Geezer
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 03, 2016, 09:15AM »

I've basically always tried to take music lessons, it just so happens that the people I studied with happened to be trombonists.  Granted, I'm not a self-taught individual, so this might be out of the purview of your question.

That said, I think, if possible, the emphasis should be on studying with a musician rather than an instrumentalist. It just so happens that there are many fine musicians who are trombonists and, to me, you get the best bang for your buck when you study with someone who is well versed in the problems and limitations of an instrument who can determine if you are having a musical problem or a technical problem. It's a lot easier to make music if you're not fighting the instrument. On the other hand, there are times where the technical restrictions on an instrument are not the cause of a lack of musicality. 
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 03, 2016, 09:22AM »

I've basically always tried to take music lessons, it just so happens that the people I studied with happened to be trombonists.  Granted, I'm not a self-taught individual, so this might be out of the purview of your question.

That said, I think, if possible, the emphasis should be on studying with a musician rather than an instrumentalist. It just so happens that there are many fine musicians who are trombonists and, to me, you get the best bang for your buck when you study with someone who is well versed in the problems and limitations of an instrument who can determine if you are having a musical problem or a technical problem. It's a lot easier to make music if you're not fighting the instrument. On the other hand, there are times where the technical restrictions on an instrument are not the cause of a lack of musicality. 

Spot on!

The reason I have mused over taking "music" lessons is due to not having an inspirational trombone-player in my area from which to study. I could move, though! lol

...Geezer
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 03, 2016, 09:25AM »

I was self taught in MS (my first teacher was my band director who was a french horn player - so i was basically teaching myself) but in 9th grade I started studying with Joe Wright (a retired band director who had some great HS bands in the 60's, former trombonist with serious skills!) and he taught me how to learn a piece by breaking it up into pieces, and how to count rhythms out slowly. He also had me using alternate positions as a rule: an All State audition piece we had one year was in B major (a key I was horribly unfamiliar with at the time) and he explained how alternate positions not only made playing certain figures easier, but also made things more in tune. In college I studied with Kent Kidwell - he taught me how to sight read, how to play in tune across all the registers of the horn, how to conceptualize different "classical" approaches, how to prepare for multiple genres of music, how to practice efficiently, how to hear your sound, how to listen and play in tune; and playing in time, stylistically correct and in a section regardless of the symphony or the big band was a part of "playing in tune." He taught me how to prepare an audition, what to expect at auditions, and how to practice beyond the requirements of an audition or performance so the actual act of playing seems easier.

I can't claim to be a self-taught jazz musician - I had a lot of good advice from a great many musicians I met at the Clark Terry Jazz Camps in the early 90's. I did what they told me to do: I worked on my scales, I transcribed solos and spent a lot of time trying to develop a personal sound. I listened to a lot of great music, and I learned from that music.

I can't really claim to be a self taught composer or arranger - I learned how to compose from the theory and jazz improvisation classes I took as an undergrad and from transcribing the stuff I liked - at the time this was a lot of Wayne Shorter, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis and Gil Evans.  I learned how to arrange and how to be a good copyist from my time on cruise ships - yes, I did a lot of writing in college as well, but writing for a steady gig for 10 years was the best practice i had in terms of developing the craft.

My piano playing is mostly self-taught, although much of my practical skill in this regard comes from my improvisation lessons - when you're learning jazz from a good teacher, you will be told to learn the songs on piano. Later on i picked up Mark Levine's Jazz Piano book, a book I still work out of and have my students work out of. My comping is pretty good, and I can pull off a solo gig if I absolutely need to, but compared to a real jazz pianist, it's pretty obvious I'm self taught. I don't have any real technique and my hands cramp up when i try to play lines that I can conceive of but my hands haven't practiced yet. There's a youtube video making the rounds on FB from my last quintet concert, where we played Shorter's "Yes and No" (at the Branford Marsalis tempo - hey, Bowen was back in town and we were excited). It came time for the piano solo and things were going well until it occurred to me that my right arm was cramping up before the end of the 2nd A. I really wish I'd started on piano earlier, and practiced it more when I did start.

There is nothing wrong with being self taught. Every one must teach theirself to an extent, but for the majority of people a teacher helps. So many of the things I've figured out as a composer-arranger I could've learned decades ago with a good teacher (or if i'd paid attention when given the opportunity.) I still take the occasional lesson from somebody - there's a universe of musicians out there who know more than I do.
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 03, 2016, 09:51AM »

I was self taught in MS (my first teacher was my band director who was a french horn player - so i was basically teaching myself) but in 9th grade I started studying with Joe Wright (a retired band director who had some great HS bands in the 60's, former trombonist with serious skills!) and he taught me how to learn a piece by breaking it up into pieces, and how to count rhythms out slowly. He also had me using alternate positions as a rule: an All State audition piece we had one year was in B major (a key I was horribly unfamiliar with at the time) and he explained how alternate positions not only made playing certain figures easier, but also made things more in tune. In college I studied with Kent Kidwell - he taught me how to sight read, how to play in tune across all the registers of the horn, how to conceptualize different "classical" approaches, how to prepare for multiple genres of music, how to practice efficiently, how to hear your sound, how to listen and play in tune; and playing in time, stylistically correct and in a section regardless of the symphony or the big band was a part of "playing in tune." He taught me how to prepare an audition, what to expect at auditions, and how to practice beyond the requirements of an audition or performance so the actual act of playing seems easier.

I can't claim to be a self-taught jazz musician - I had a lot of good advice from a great many musicians I met at the Clark Terry Jazz Camps in the early 90's. I did what they told me to do: I worked on my scales, I transcribed solos and spent a lot of time trying to develop a personal sound. I listened to a lot of great music, and I learned from that music.

I can't really claim to be a self taught composer or arranger - I learned how to compose from the theory and jazz improvisation classes I took as an undergrad and from transcribing the stuff I liked - at the time this was a lot of Wayne Shorter, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis and Gil Evans.  I learned how to arrange and how to be a good copyist from my time on cruise ships - yes, I did a lot of writing in college as well, but writing for a steady gig for 10 years was the best practice i had in terms of developing the craft.

My piano playing is mostly self-taught, although much of my practical skill in this regard comes from my improvisation lessons - when you're learning jazz from a good teacher, you will be told to learn the songs on piano. Later on i picked up Mark Levine's Jazz Piano book, a book I still work out of and have my students work out of. My comping is pretty good, and I can pull off a solo gig if I absolutely need to, but compared to a real jazz pianist, it's pretty obvious I'm self taught. I don't have any real technique and my hands cramp up when i try to play lines that I can conceive of but my hands haven't practiced yet. There's a youtube video making the rounds on FB from my last quintet concert, where we played Shorter's "Yes and No" (at the Branford Marsalis tempo - hey, Bowen was back in town and we were excited). It came time for the piano solo and things were going well until it occurred to me that my right arm was cramping up before the end of the 2nd A. I really wish I'd started on piano earlier, and practiced it more when I did start.

There is nothing wrong with being self taught. Every one must teach theirself to an extent, but for the majority of people a teacher helps. So many of the things I've figured out as a composer-arranger I could've learned decades ago with a good teacher (or if i'd paid attention when given the opportunity.) I still take the occasional lesson from somebody - there's a universe of musicians out there who know more than I do.

That is both a beautiful and inspiring story!

There's a lot in what you wrote, but I think the highlighted part is sage for me. Make no mistake about it; the onus for learning is on the student. No one can jump inside us and make us play. It's not about the "Being John Malcovich" movie. A good teach can coach and point things out, but it's up to the student to place the chops, blow and play. Not too profound of a concept on my part, though.  :/

I guess my hesitation is if I did find a great trombone player in my immediate area, where I could visit with him weekly, he would no doubt play a massive trigger horn and expect me to love classical music. Okay; that's very biased. I don't know it for a fact and there is nothing at all wrong with playing a large trigger trombone. It's just that it seems to always go together with classical music.

What I probably should do, is find an local improv specialist (a trombone player would be a definite plus) who can help me learn a "down and dirty" way to improv - even if it's not academically perfect.

...Geezer
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 03, 2016, 10:19AM »

As an adult, weekly lessons might not be the answer. I suspect that the right lesson would go a long way towards saving you time and pointing you in the right direction. My teacher does just that, and I take 1-3 lessons per year.

Last year, I watched a bunch of age 50+ trumpet students take weekly lessons at the local conservatory. Measured 30 to 60 minute lessons are not for me, and I can't say I was overly impressed with the results. The teacher kept saying: "Blow more air!"; I kept thinking:"Give me a break!" Repetition is for young-uns, not us geezers-in-training.
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« Reply #10 on: Aug 03, 2016, 10:27AM »

As an adult, weekly lessons might not be the answer. I suspect that the right lesson would go a long way towards saving you time and pointing you in the right direction. My teacher does just that, and I take 1-3 lessons per year.

Last year, I watched a bunch of age 50+ trumpet students take weekly lessons at the local conservatory. Measured 30 to 60 minute lessons are not for me, and I can't say I was overly impressed with the results. The teacher kept saying: "Blow more air!"; I kept thinking:"Give me a break!" Repetition is for young-uns, not us geezers-in-training.

I could arrange 1-3 sessions a year.

I'm not sure I ever want to compare myself with a conservatory student. Those places graduate freakish technical masters a dime-a-dozen. At least that is my concept of them; probably both untrue and unfair.

...Geezer-In-Training
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 03, 2016, 10:27AM »

Quote
I guess my hesitation is if I did find a great trombone player in my immediate area, where I could visit with him weekly, he would no doubt play a massive trigger horn and expect me to love classical music. Okay; that's very biased. I don't know it for a fact and there is nothing at all wrong with playing a large trigger trombone. It's just that it seems to always go together with classical music.

I think a lot of the times that person may not necessarily be a great musician. However, to be fair, that person may be a great musician who just happens to pay a "massive trigger horn." That shouldn't be any different than studying with a great musician who is a tubist, euphoniumist, or cellist. Or likewise, if the person was playing a 458 bore trombone like Matt Niess, one of my old teachers does, they can also be a great musician. Even if you're trying to learn that "massive trigger horn" you can learn a thing or two from a guy like that.
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« Reply #12 on: Aug 03, 2016, 10:40AM »

I think a lot of the times that person may not necessarily be a great musician. However, to be fair, that person may be a great musician who just happens to pay a "massive trigger horn." That shouldn't be any different than studying with a great musician who is a tubist, euphoniumist, or cellist. Or likewise, if the person was playing a 458 bore trombone like Matt Niess, one of my old teachers does, they can also be a great musician. Even if you're trying to learn that "massive trigger horn" you can learn a thing or two from a guy like that.

Lol. I'm learning to play a peewee trigger horn. Baby steps. You can learn something from anybody.

I guess I would need to "audition" any local talent first to see what I might be letting myself in for; good OR bad. Just b/c I go to a local symphonic "pops" concert and am impressed with the baritone player's solo doesn't mean he would be necessarily what I'm looking for - without digging deeper to find out.

...Geezer
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 03, 2016, 10:49AM »

OBTW. No one's dropped any names yet for current recommendations and I really don't think it would be a good idea, since livelihoods can swing in the balance if there are disagreements. We all know who they are on this Forum anyway and this discussion wasn't meant to be personal that way.

...Geezer
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 03, 2016, 10:58AM »

I didn't mention teacher names because that would change the thread away from being self-taught.
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Martin Hubel
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« Reply #15 on: Aug 03, 2016, 10:59AM »

I didn't mention teacher names because that would change the thread away from being self-taught.

That as well.  Good!  I've probably digressed, although to be or not to be is probably inevitably intertwined...

...Geezer
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« Reply #16 on: Aug 03, 2016, 11:00AM »

Lessons give a good excuse to travel if there's no one locally you like or if you don't want to play local politics with "he studies with him" kind of stuff.

I've traveled just to take lessons off of people, even after I decided not to pursue trombone as a career.  Its fun meeting other trombonists and a lesson is the most effective way to figure out their approach.  I've had many one-off lessons with players. A lot of times you can work it out so that you can see them perform right after or right before. A few symphony players have gotten me free tickets to their show. That's half the cost of the lesson in tickets! :)

Bear in mind that, particularly with trombonists, you have something in common with the person you'd get a lesson with.  I've had meals following/preceeding that were really cool experiences.  You hear lots of stories, lots of opinions about a variety of things, sometimes musical sometimes otherwise.  

I'd rather have one of those lessons than a years worth of lessons from someone who happens to be around. The last lesson  had left me with plenty to work on for more than a week. On the other hand, there was a period of time after graduating with my first degree that I had 3 or so lessons over the span of a few months.  I would have progressed much faster if I would have had those three lessons a little closer together.

Ultimately, I actually don't like weekly lessons or the idea of them. More instruction is generally better than less instruction. But sometimes, especially as an amateur like us, a concept takes more than a week to learn. Or less than a day to learn.  

I think the best approach is to have someone help you get started and pointed in the right direction.  When you're hiking, the sooner you use your compass to get you pointed in the right direction, the less work you have to do later.  Once you're on the straight and narrow, it requires much, much less intervention.
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« Reply #17 on: Aug 03, 2016, 11:05AM »

Lessons give a good excuse to travel if there's no one locally you like or if you don't want to play local politics with "he studies with him" kind of stuff.

I've traveled just to take lessons off of people, even after I decided not to pursue trombone as a career.  Its fun meeting other trombonists and a lesson is the most effective way to figure out their approach.  I've had many one-off lessons with players. A lot of times you can work it out so that you can see them perform right after or right before. A few symphony players have gotten me free tickets to their show. That's half the cost of the lesson in tickets! :)

Bear in mind that, particularly with trombonists, you have something in common with the person you'd get a lesson with.  I've had meals following/preceeding that were really cool experiences.  You hear lots of stories, lots of opinions about a variety of things, sometimes musical sometimes otherwise.  

I'd rather have one of those lessons than a years worth of lessons from someone who happens to be around. The last lesson  had left me with plenty to work on for more than a week. On the other hand, there was a period of time after graduating with my first degree that I had 3 or so lessons over the span of a few months.  I would have progressed much faster if I would have had those three lessons a little closer together.

Ultimately, I actually don't like weekly lessons or the idea of them. More instruction is generally better than less instruction. But sometimes, especially as an amateur like us, a concept takes more than a week to learn. Or less than a day to learn.  

I think the best approach is to have someone help you get started and pointed in the right direction.  When you're hiking, the sooner you use your compass to get you pointed in the right direction, the less work you have to do later.  Once you're on the straight and narrow, it requires much, much less intervention.

I really like your concept that the actual lesson is also a part of the experience. It's the travel, perhaps seeing/experiencing new things or visiting with friends/family in the area, interaction aside from the lesson and so on. That's terrific!

...Geezer
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« Reply #18 on: Aug 03, 2016, 11:46AM »

I was self taught up to high school I think. My first teacher was a clarinet/saxophone and accordion player who did not know anything about playing the trombone. I did not realize that. I had a friend in the music school and his father was a dixiland trombone player. My friend and I met through this clarinet teacher and become close friends. His father told him stuff and then he told me, this was the way I learned.

My grandfather was a musician and was of great influence to me but he never criticized my playing even though I begged him to. I rememer his wonderful tone and his vibrato on this Swedish old Ahlbergh Ohlsson "tenor-basun". This was of some help of course but technically he did not help me at all. He did not want to get to involved I think and I was a disaster. The first time I heard a trombone was i n 8'th grade. I was Shocked!!!

Later when I decided I wanted to study music seriously I came in contact with Sven Larsson  Good! Good! at this forum. Without him I had never become the reasonably good player that I am at this stage. In fact I owe a lot to him :-)

At this time in life I still learn from him but also from other professional and other good players I meet, and of course from records. I've also picked up some good ideas from the forum. Suggestions that I have tried and found out to be good for me but most advice here are of no real value to me. Either I already know it or it is just totally against what I believe in. Some of the information could fit another person naturally, give associations and lead someone to new knowledge. Good!

/Tom     
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« Reply #19 on: Aug 03, 2016, 11:48AM »

When I was getting back into playing, and in school and had time to practice daily, weekly lessons made sense.

Then I graduated.....and weekly lessons were a waste of both my and the teacher's time-- I can't guarantee I'll be able to practice enough, frequently enough, to make a weekly lesson realistic.

I don't want to suggest a lesson interval, but I definitely think for me, unguided learning can only do so much. Lessons have helped me tremendously, with the forum as a distant third after self-directed practice. Intelligent, diligent, critical practice is one thing, but that combined with someone else to point out your flaws and suggest an approach speeds up the process dramatically. For me. And many others.

I think a lesson every couple months or so would work well for me, provided I have enough time to practice. Which I don't right now.
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« Reply #20 on: Aug 03, 2016, 11:52AM »

As an adult, after years of lessons in my previous lives, I prefer being on my own schedule now.

I've been teaching myself the cello for the last four years.  

As I look back, has there ever been a stretch of even one semester where I could have cleared out the daily time, every day, to practice and truly do my best on all the repertoire that would be expected every week?

Would I have been able to make it to all the scheduled lessons?

No. I like being on my own schedule.

Some people love the lesson process. Some people need to be told each week, "That's good, keep trying."  Some people need to be told each week, "That's not good enough, keep trying." That is great that that works for them.

I'm just not in that frame of mind anymore where I am hanging on someone else's approval.
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« Reply #21 on: Aug 03, 2016, 01:44PM »

It's coming out that somewhere along the line, a lot of us have - for one reason or another - self taught.

I agree that I don't know if I would have the patience for weekly lessons. I guess it would depend upon who the teacher was. If the teacher was my drop-dead inspiration, then I would want to see him every day!  Way cool

A couple band-mates suggested I take lessons. They weren't criticizing my playing. Quite the opposite, I think. I told them I was afraid to - since I was making such rapid progress on my own - I was afraid a well-intentioned teacher would derail me. Deep down inside, is that what self-taughts are afraid of? Did I just make a noun out of an adjective?

...Geezer
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« Reply #22 on: Aug 03, 2016, 01:47PM »

I think it would be silly to try and figure out any single idea why self-taught musicians choose to remain self taught. Everyone has their own reasons. For me, it has always been a question of interest. I play to have fun, and do it well enough to have fun playing the kinds of music I like to play. If I start to struggle to have fun, I might seek out a way to improve that situation, whether it is lessons, a new instrument, whatever.
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« Reply #23 on: Aug 03, 2016, 01:53PM »

I think it would be silly to try and figure out any single idea why self-taught musicians choose to remain self taught. Everyone has their own reasons. For me, it has always been a question of interest. I play to have fun, and do it well enough to have fun playing the kinds of music I like to play. If I start to struggle to have fun, I might seek out a way to improve that situation, whether it is lessons, a new instrument, whatever.

Oh, there's no one single reason. But there might be some commonalities; a reason that resonates with more than one.

I find it interesting that more than one has ranked social media sites like this one as a low form of getting information on how to play the trombone. I rank it up at the top! I have to wonder if others who have ranked it a lot lower are merely doing so out of distaste for social media in general...

...Geezer
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« Reply #24 on: Aug 03, 2016, 02:46PM »

If you are curious about lessons and the money is not a problem and... you have the practice time to do it justice, then go for it! There's not much downside if you don't like it.

If I were looking for cello lessons my first gambit would be the local community college system which would be fairly affordable (I'm pretty much paying for high-class cello lessons already with my property tax to the community college district  Yeah, RIGHT.).

It's the whole semester timeframe that is a barrier for me.
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« Reply #25 on: Aug 03, 2016, 03:15PM »

If you are curious about lessons and the money is not a problem and... you have the practice time to do it justice, then go for it! There's not much downside if you don't like it.

If I were looking for cello lessons my first gambit would be the local community college system which would be fairly affordable (I'm pretty much paying for high-class cello lessons already with my property tax to the community college district  Yeah, RIGHT.).

It's the whole semester timeframe that is a barrier for me.

Time and money are not issues for me. The downside is there not being anyone I wish to take lessons from without a pretty good travel time. But as someone else mentioned, it could be a periodic trip where I also do other things, like a ball game, family visit, etc.

I hear you about the local community college scene. I got an associate's degree about 20 years ago to update my undergraduate degree. It cost me pocket change. I just checked the online course catalog for the one near me. Turns out they have "Performance Ensemble" classes where the student must first audition. As an aside to another recent thread, they also offer courses in the business of music. Interesting.

...Geezer
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« Reply #26 on: Aug 03, 2016, 03:22PM »

Time and money are not issues for me. The downside is there not being anyone I wish to take lessons from without a pretty good travel time. But as someone else mentioned, it could be a periodic trip where I also do other things, like a ball game, family visit, etc.

...Geezer

I would suggest you look for a single lesson at first. Try a few teachers. My experience as an adult has shown me that some teachers understand the needs of adults, while other teachers treat everyone the same. Everyone needs an open mind including the teacher.

Likely, a diagnostician would be a good place to start.
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« Reply #27 on: Aug 03, 2016, 04:10PM »

I had played Euphonium, and Trombone with some lessons and training for years but taught myself Tuba.  A couple of years ago I actually took some Tuba Lessons and in a short period of time I made great advancements in sound production and tone.  He corrected bad habits that I didn't know I had, and gave me direction on what to work on.  Not saying you can't learn an instrument on your own, but I do think that taking lessons from a competent instructor achieves results quicker than the trial and error method used by self taught musicians. 
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« Reply #28 on: Aug 03, 2016, 05:25PM »

I had an "aha" moment this evening. About a year ago, a pro friend told me during a phone conversation that he uses minimal mpc pressure on the chops when he plays. This evening I was having some problems with my tone transitioning up from trigger range into the middle of the middle range. So I gave it a try. Voila! I guess it gives the chops a lot more freedom to vibrate without being pinned down. So now I have to practice playing that way for it to be a habit, like breathing.

The above wasn't the only time I got inspiration from a phone conversation. I can honestly state that I have learned as much or more from phone conversations or casual face-to-face conversations than I ever have had from a sit down lesson. Maybe that's how I roll.

...Geezer
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« Reply #29 on: Aug 03, 2016, 05:56PM »

I am not self-taught. I had lessons from age 11 until age 22. In many ways, teaching lessons for high school and middle achool students during college and afterwards was even a better teacher for me than lessons were. I don't take lessons any more, but I feel like I am always improving some aspect of my playing. I don't think this means I am self-taught, though, even though it's going on 7 years without a lesson.

Here's my take on it, though. You can definitely learn a lot from watching videos and listening to recordings. You can do pretty well working through music and books on your own. But the recordings and lessons won't be able to tell you obvious tweaks and fixes that even a friend could in a "lesson" on stage during a rehearsal. Whether it's a formal lesson that you pay for or not, at some point, there will be someone who has insight that none of us could stumble upon by ourselves.

Some of the best "lessons" I've ever had is just being in the same room as a great musician and soaking in their playing. To hear what a real forte sounds like, or real expressive playing from just a few feet away -- a recording doesn't tell that story. I remember a masterclass from Norman Bolter where he demonstrated "middle F". Every dynamic. Fortissimo peeled the paint off the walls. A video of the masterclass would not have told that story.

I think that players who are mostly self taught are inspiring, and some are the best musicians I've ever worked with! This doesn't mean that there is nothing to be gained from attending masterclasses or recitals so we can "see how it's done" and incorporate that into our playing.
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« Reply #30 on: Aug 03, 2016, 07:07PM »

I am not self-taught. I had lessons from age 11 until age 22. In many ways, teaching lessons for high school and middle achool students during college and afterwards was even a better teacher for me than lessons were. I don't take lessons any more, but I feel like I am always improving some aspect of my playing. I don't think this means I am self-taught, though, even though it's going on 7 years without a lesson.

Here's my take on it, though. You can definitely learn a lot from watching videos and listening to recordings. You can do pretty well working through music and books on your own. But the recordings and lessons won't be able to tell you obvious tweaks and fixes that even a friend could in a "lesson" on stage during a rehearsal. Whether it's a formal lesson that you pay for or not, at some point, there will be someone who has insight that none of us could stumble upon by ourselves.

Some of the best "lessons" I've ever had is just being in the same room as a great musician and soaking in their playing. To hear what a real forte sounds like, or real expressive playing from just a few feet away -- a recording doesn't tell that story. I remember a masterclass from Norman Bolter where he demonstrated "middle F". Every dynamic. Fortissimo peeled the paint off the walls. A video of the masterclass would not have told that story.

I think that players who are mostly self taught are inspiring, and some are the best musicians I've ever worked with! This doesn't mean that there is nothing to be gained from attending masterclasses or recitals so we can "see how it's done" and incorporate that into our playing.

Good! Good! Good!

When I did start teaching, I realized how little I really know about trombone. So mostly what I do as a teacher is try not to destroy, but encourage the curiosity about trombone and music.

Leif
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« Reply #31 on: Aug 04, 2016, 04:36AM »

I am not self-taught. I had lessons from age 11 until age 22. In many ways, teaching lessons for high school and middle achool students during college and afterwards was even a better teacher for me than lessons were. I don't take lessons any more, but I feel like I am always improving some aspect of my playing. I don't think this means I am self-taught, though, even though it's going on 7 years without a lesson.

Here's my take on it, though. You can definitely learn a lot from watching videos and listening to recordings. You can do pretty well working through music and books on your own. But the recordings and lessons won't be able to tell you obvious tweaks and fixes that even a friend could in a "lesson" on stage during a rehearsal. Whether it's a formal lesson that you pay for or not, at some point, there will be someone who has insight that none of us could stumble upon by ourselves.

Some of the best "lessons" I've ever had is just being in the same room as a great musician and soaking in their playing. To hear what a real forte sounds like, or real expressive playing from just a few feet away -- a recording doesn't tell that story. I remember a masterclass from Norman Bolter where he demonstrated "middle F". Every dynamic. Fortissimo peeled the paint off the walls. A video of the masterclass would not have told that story.

I think that players who are mostly self taught are inspiring, and some are the best musicians I've ever worked with! This doesn't mean that there is nothing to be gained from attending masterclasses or recitals so we can "see how it's done" and incorporate that into our playing.

Hey wait a minute! If I do the math right, then you've been playing for 18 years! Eighteen years ago, I was 49! Holy trigger horn! If I would have started when I was 49, I would be, um maybe a little bit better?

Anyway, I agree that one can learn a lot just from being a fly on the wall or even better yet - actually engaging with a better player. About a year or so ago, I watched a jazz trombonist playing. He was a youngish man. He told me he had been studying for 12 years. He sounded terrific and he didn't need any music. When I got close enough for the conversation, I noticed he was using a whiskey keg for a mpc! And yet he was able to hit a lot of bad-ass high C's, pretty good high D's, some so-so high Eb's and some squeaky high F's. So I learned at least two things right there: 1) that it can be done on that size mpc and 2) I needed to re-arrange my long-term goals.

I need to find a master class. Nothing beats seeing the demo live. Recordings are fine as far as they go, but they fall short.

Every time I play in a band with other musicians I learn something. So I have made it my business now to be in 3 bands and looking for a 4th.

I have also found that it's better to play as wide a variety of music as possible. There have been some glitches I wasn't aware of until I hit a certain piece of music and there they were, buck naked. So now I play through all the pieces of music that have uncovered my glitches when I'm testing out a new mpc or a new horn. Can I get through them better or worse with the new piece? So yes, I'm now into Rochut <Gasp!>.

For me, classical music is a stretch. For classical music players, maybe jazz would be a stretch. We should all stretch. When I worked part time at a fitness center, I used to be amused at all the tall, slender ladies who streamed in for yoga classes. That's easy for them. For me, it would be a stretch (pun intended). For them, a real stretch would be heavy weight training. We should all stretch, whether we are "self-taught" or not.

Good! Good! Good!

When I did start teaching, I realized how little I really know about trombone. So mostly what I do as a teacher is try not to destroy, but encourage the curiosity about trombone and music.

Leif

I have heard that expressed through-out my life and not just trombone-playing. Teaching is learning and I believe the better players can learn from the lesser players.

...Geezer
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« Reply #32 on: Aug 04, 2016, 06:21AM »

I think it would be silly to try and figure out any single idea why self-taught musicians choose to remain self taught. Everyone has their own reasons. For me, it has always been a question of interest. I play to have fun, and do it well enough to have fun playing the kinds of music I like to play. If I start to struggle to have fun, I might seek out a way to improve that situation, whether it is lessons, a new instrument, whatever.

The advantage of having a teacher who you see even a few times a year is that they get to know you, your playing, your strengths, and your weaknesses, and then can offer advice to move you forward quickly - even if it's that a new instrument or mouthpiece were necessary to achieve your goals (or modifications to your current one).

I find it interesting that more than one has ranked social media sites like this one as a low form of getting information on how to play the trombone. I rank it up at the top! I have to wonder if others who have ranked it a lot lower are merely doing so out of distaste for social media in general...

...Geezer

There are lots of great resources about how to play - including advice on this site. However, advice that works for YOU won't work for others. When I was doing masters work, my teacher sent me to have a lesson with several other teachers. His exact words about it were, "You know now what works for you - so check out what these others have to say, and see if you think it will help. Discard the rest." I did that - I took some advice, and discarded other advice (well - put it aside for consideration another time), and made improvements quickly as a result.

The time when lessons start to be less than worth the money spent is when you start predicting what the teacher will say. I ran into that my last 5 lessons (3 with my regular teacher during masters work, 2 with other teachers I was curious to get their opinions about my playing on and thoughts on improvement). At that point, you've developed your self-reflection muscle enough to be able to be truly honest with yourself to push your own development, and have enough knowledge to know where to find (or how to create) resources to support that development. Until then, when a new perspective improves your abilities, you know it's not time to stop taking lessons.

That being said, your needs will vary. Some people need, or desire, weekly lessons. Some, monthly. Some, quarterly. And some, as needed or when concepts have been mastered enough that they are ready to move on. If you want to start taking lessons, then I'd start with once in a while lessons - a few times a year for you. Then, if you find that the teacher you are traveling to would be worth seeing more often, go more often. I think you'll find the time saved learning concepts will far outweigh the time traveling to and from the lesson, and you'd be able to have more fun on the horn faster. Just my 2 cents.

I don't have anything against self-taught musicians, personally - all that matters is can you play. But, I'm an efficiency guy - if I can learn something faster for less effort, why wouldn't I? It means I can learn more in the same amount of time, then - which is what I find inspiring.
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« Reply #33 on: Aug 04, 2016, 06:41AM »

Yeah... outside of playing in school band and a local jazz band my senior year, I am technically a self-taught player. It was just never *normal* for me or anyone around me to get a teacher, and I'm a pretty shy individual (or so I like to think of myself), in addition to that my personal-, music- and church-life in my senior year was so stuffed up that I didn't really have much time.
But I think also I'm very much a "DIY" kinda person, I like to go through the entire production process on my own and not be "disturbed" in my creative element, but I do see that I am rather stubborn when it comes to being told I suck, and I lose motivation easily Pant however, NOT taking lessons didn't HELP me get better as a trombonist or as a person, I can say that for sure!

I can certainly confirm that the large majority of the really great players I know HAVE had lessons, if even only one year. People tell me I'm quite good for never having had lessons, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm "good".

But I'm gonna change that! I'll be getting lessons for both trombone and trumpet in this upcoming year once I'm back in the states. I'm MEGA-excited now.
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« Reply #34 on: Aug 04, 2016, 07:50AM »

Of the past 15 years or so since I graduated from college, I've spent 2 or 3 years taking weekly or monthly lessons, and the remaing time working on my own.  I made many more discoveries working with a teacher, but turning those discoveries into habits has generally been something I did on my own.

I see private lessons having a couple of advantages for me: teachers have helped me identify the root cause of problems in my playing, and helped me address the root causes of my playing problems rather than masking symptoms.  Teachers have provided me with a critical ear, showing me the parts of my playing where I'm "cheating" and not sounding as good as I could because of it.  Teachers have also given me motivation, since I never want to show up to a private lesson sounding bad.

For me, the major disadvantage was the time commitment I needed to make to keep from wasting my teacher's time.  I'm not taking regular lessons now because I have small children at home and I can lose a week's worth of practice time in the blink of an eye if one of the kids brings home a flu bug.  I'm pretty down about the way I'm sounding right now, so I'm hoping that I can start occasional lessons again in another year or so.
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« Reply #35 on: Aug 04, 2016, 08:34AM »

I'm really enjoying reading the personal anecdotes about being self-taught vs having a teacher. A common thread seems to be a tendency for some individuals to vacillate between the two at times for different personal reasons.

Not many so far have touched on something that has always been important to me. Davdud101 did and perhaps someone else as well. I'm the type of guy who takes great pride in teaching myself how to do something. In my lifetime so far, I have taught myself how to craft heirloom-quality furniture, watercolor paint to the pro level, become a master gardener and a credible home-style chef. Clearly, of all of them, teaching myself how to play the trombone reasonably well has been the most difficult and time-consuming. Thank goodness for this Forum and other resources available to me as needed!

As Jessie J sings, "It's not about the money, money, money...". Being a geezer is the new gerry. I'm not the kind of geezer who cheaps out on everything. I tip well for good service and I chide people to leave the damn salt 'n pepper shakers on the table. I even tip our trash haulers when I think I've abused them with all the crap I set out for pick-up. I don't have alligator arms. I'm usually the first one to grab the check. As I state, it's about the pride. I am very pleased with myself to have figured it out so far.

But I am rapidly getting to the point where I am satisfied with myself enough. I am rapidly getting to the point where I think it would be fun AND a different kind of source of pride to be a student of so-and-so's, provided I'm not an embarrassment to him. That day will come. Tic. Toc.

...Geezer   
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« Reply #36 on: Aug 04, 2016, 11:02AM »

Not many so far have touched on something that has always been important to me. Davdud101 did and perhaps someone else as well. I'm the type of guy who takes great pride in teaching myself how to do something.

Certainly different people are wired differently.  I certainly feel no less of a sense of accomplishment for achievements that I've made while taking lessons, since I've had to apply just as much hard work and intelligence to transform ideas and criticisms from my teachers into something that actually works for me on the horn.  But I'm more engineer than scientist; I've always prioritized achieving goals over making new discoveries.
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« Reply #37 on: Aug 04, 2016, 01:10PM »

Certainly different people are wired differently.  I certainly feel no less of a sense of accomplishment for achievements that I've made while taking lessons, since I've had to apply just as much hard work and intelligence to transform ideas and criticisms from my teachers into something that actually works for me on the horn.  But I'm more engineer than scientist; I've always prioritized achieving goals over making new discoveries.

As our parents used to say, "That's different". lol With all due respect, how would you know the difference if you have never self-taught anything? Did you teach yourself how to ride your first bike? Did you teach yourself how to drive? I did - on a 1954 Willys Jeep, when my parents were out. I taught myself in the back alley. Then when my Dad took me out, I already knew how to drive a stick and he thought he did great "teaching" me. lol

For me, it hasn't been the destination, or I would have immediate (if not sooner) cut to the chase and did lessons. It's been the ride that has been at once, pleasurable, frustrating and rewarding. One of the things I used to do (yep - self taught) was to code in Cobol. I loved doing original coding and hated legacy patch-work. The few times I got to do original coding, I totally savored it. It was the ride I got to go on, not the finished product that I valued.

...Geezer
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« Reply #38 on: Aug 04, 2016, 02:57PM »

It's a choice, it depends on lot of factors and goals we set. Nothing wrong with being self taught but as I see it, it has some limitations. For most people that want to learn trombone I would recommend a teacher. Learning trombone we actually have to do our self, but a teacher can guide us in the right directions so we get more fun out of the trombone. We can reach our goals faster, and get more out of the possibilities each of us have. It has to be an professional really good teacher of course. There is lot of bad teacher's around that is dangerous.

The danger about being self taught is we go on a road that never can bring out the full potential we have. It actually is a risk that we will limit our own potential. Then often the fun about playing will go away.

Of course this is a personal choice and many of us play in a community band once a week and have some fun with other people. We don't need a teacher for that. Still I would recommend going to a really good teacher once in a while to get maximum fun out of our trombone. Its a personal choice. If young people want to go the professional route, they don't have a choice. Go to the best teachers available. They need a school where they have to learn how to get into the professional life. Its much more than just playing....


Leif
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« Reply #39 on: Aug 04, 2016, 04:23PM »

As our parents used to say, "That's different". lol With all due respect, how would you know the difference if you have never self-taught anything? Did you teach yourself how to ride your first bike? Did you teach yourself how to drive? I did - on a 1954 Willys Jeep, when my parents were out. I taught myself in the back alley. Then when my Dad took me out, I already knew how to drive a stick and he thought he did great "teaching" me. lol

I've gotta say, I don't follow.  Having said that, I fear I haven't made my point as precisely as I should have.

As I said, I've taken lessons for a few years of my adulthood, and been self-taught for many more.  When I compare a year in which I did take lessons to a year where I slaved away by myself in my basement, I am personally no less proud of what I accomplished during the year in which I took lessons.  In fact, I might be more proud of what I accomplished while taking lessons.  Not exactly case-control, but it's the best I've got to present.

Again, this is my story, and I'm more focused on the goal than the process.  YMMV.
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« Reply #40 on: Aug 04, 2016, 04:59PM »

I've gotta say, I don't follow.  Having said that, I fear I haven't made my point as precisely as I should have.

As I said, I've taken lessons for a few years of my adulthood, and been self-taught for many more.  When I compare a year in which I did take lessons to a year where I slaved away by myself in my basement, I am personally no less proud of what I accomplished during the year in which I took lessons.  In fact, I might be more proud of what I accomplished while taking lessons.  Not exactly case-control, but it's the best I've got to present.

Again, this is my story, and I'm more focused on the goal than the process.  YMMV.

 Good! clarification. You've appreciated it from both angles! Maybe I can get to that point as well.

...Geezer
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« Reply #41 on: Aug 04, 2016, 06:14PM »

Circling back to the question of resources for teaching yourself, I'm not sure anyone's mentioned all the great resources out there for ear training.  Back in the day, I started working through the David Burge relative pitch
course.  I found it to be effective, but also a bit tedious and expensive.  These days, I'm seeing a lot of online options pop up as well.

I often feel like the time I've spent developing my ear and the time I spent at a keyboard working through chord progressions have been as important to my development as a trombonist as the time I've spent with the horn on my face.
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« Reply #42 on: Aug 04, 2016, 06:23PM »

Here a fun link http://www.musictheory.net/exercises/ear-interval
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« Reply #43 on: Aug 04, 2016, 06:33PM »

Circling back to the question of resources for teaching yourself, I'm not sure anyone's mentioned all the great resources out there for ear training.  Back in the day, I started working through the David Burge relative pitch
course.  I found it to be effective, but also a bit tedious and expensive.  These days, I'm seeing a lot of online options pop up as well.

I often feel like the time I've spent developing my ear and the time I spent at a keyboard working through chord progressions have been as important to my development as a trombonist as the time I've spent with the horn on my face.

Talking about resources...

I resolved in earnest this evening to play more against the "radio". I put the word radio in quotes because I use Amazon Echo. I can ask Alexa to play almost any genre of music from my prime account. Interesting working out the key of a pop piece of music. Lots of them in A, D and C. Other keys as well, but those keys seem to be prevalent. Probably a guitar thing.

I also decided to use BiaB in a more advanced way. I have all four Hal Leonard Real Books. I've keyed the chord progressions into BiaB of all the standards that I know in those books. I play through each one twice. I'm going to start playing through them 3 times, improving progressively more and more with each pass - until on the 3rd pass - where I'll try to devise an on-the-fly alternate melody line to whatever tune is up.

I can play well enough for all three bands I'm involved with. So it's time to cut down on the study books a bit. Now is the time to start picking up my horn to just play. I admire those who can do that.

I've been at BiaB pretty steadily now for about 6 months, but it and playing against the "radio" is going to get more priority.


Your timing couldn't be better!  Good!

...Geezer
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« Reply #44 on: Aug 04, 2016, 07:35PM »

Watch out playing with the radio/recordings -- it is often not even close to A440.
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« Reply #45 on: Aug 05, 2016, 04:31AM »

Watch out playing with the radio/recordings -- it is often not even close to A440.

Even better yet!

Actually, I'd forgotten about that. A couple years ago, I tried playing along with a few LP's and almost went nuts - until someone told me about that tuning thing. Then I ripped the LP's down and tuned the wave files. Whew! I probably could have just adjusted the turntable to rotate at a different speed.

Contemporary pop can be tough to play along with - all the special sound effects and sometimes no clearly defined melody line. Music from the 50's, 70's, 80's & 90's might be easier. Contemporary jazz can be tough as well; with the fancy-dancy chord progressions.

Good stuff though - for someone like me who doesn't want to bother with learning the theory of music - who just wants to pick up the horn and play by ear. Uh-oh! There I go again - causing trouble!

...Geezer
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« Reply #46 on: Aug 05, 2016, 08:15AM »

I'm pretty much self-taught, in that I never had any formal lessons, and was brought up in a brass band format. we did have a school band, in which I played as well, but it was not run out of the music dept, which was pretty non-existent in my school. After finishing school, I carried on playing in a band for some 5 years, where I was lucky enough to play in a band containing many fine member musicians. It's this that probably influenced me most, and learned what good playing and musicianship sounded like. I then moved away for a few years, and had a break.
Why no lessons? Two main reasons - at school my parents would have thought it bizarre to pay for them, and there were no teachers locally that I knew of. Later, just didn't have enough money or time while doing more studying and working/family.I had a few lessons while unemployed at 28-ish, and some more at 61 (!) when again unemployed. (I need to restart them after a a break!)
I think one of the main things missed is not coming up through the grade system, and not being aware of opportunities that might be there with some musical study. (I did some OU muisic courses, which were good but not trombone-related).
But I have been very fortunate to play in SA brass bands in my youth and big bands a bit later (one for 30 years!) and now in concert band, orchestra and quartet all doing exciting performances, and also regularly being asked to help with other bands. I still get to sit next to a very fine trumpet player and musician weekly, and every time it's like a free lesson. But if some one says what standard am I, it's bit tricky to answer 'cos I never even did grade 1.
 
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« Reply #47 on: Aug 05, 2016, 11:15AM »

I'm pretty much self-taught, in that I never had any formal lessons, and was brought up in a brass band format. we did have a school band, in which I played as well, but it was not run out of the music dept, which was pretty non-existent in my school. I carried on in the band for some 5 years, where I was lucky enough to play in a band containing many fine member musicians. It's this that probably influenced me most, and learned what good playing and musicianship sounded like. I then moved away for a few years, and had a break.
Why no lessons? Two main reasons - at school my parents would have thought it bizarre to pay for them, and there were no teachers locally that I knew of. Later, just didn't have enough money or time while doing more studying and working/family.I had a few lessons while unemployed at 28-ish, and some more at 61 (!) when aagin unemplyed.
I think one of the main things missed is not coming up through the grade system, and not being aware of opportunities that might be there with some musical study.
But I have been very fortunate to play in SA brass bands in my youth and big bands a bit later (one for 30 years!) and now in concert band, orchestra and quartet all doing exciting performances, and also regularly being asked to help with other bands. I still get to sit next to a very fine trumpet player and musician weekly, and every time it's like a free lesson. But if some one says what standard am I, it's bit tricky to answer 'cos I never even did grade 1.
 

I liked to read that and several other comments too. Each of us has his own story. As long as you are fine with everything and have a good time why bother. Enjoy the moment. Live the presence. No need to take lessons for that, just appreciate what you've got and do your best with joy and enthusiasm. Live life!  :-)

/Tom
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« Reply #48 on: Aug 08, 2016, 10:10PM »

I will start with the fact that I am 15, and am a rising junior in high school, I do not claim to even be very good at bass trombone, nor anything else I do.

Like most players my age, I started in school band while struggling to stay motivated about music. I started on trumpet (no offense to any trumpet players, but that definitely did not help my motivation) I never found my niche on trumpet, never got good at it, never found motivation and overall just wasn't having fun. I was the kid that took band because it was an easy grade. After about a year I switched to tuba, my band director was a flutist by trade, and could play the basic instruments, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, saxophone probably, but, of course, not tuba. I had the basic beginner's books to teach me the notes and the basic fingering chart. I got about as good as you could expect a middle schooler with no music experience to be. I started playing trombone in January of this year, after attempting one time and another over the past year before that. During our christmas concert there was a bass trombone part our lead tuba player played, and I was inspired, and have been playing bass trombone since. I've made leaps and bounds whether by talent or motivation, or even both. Both of my band directors luckily are low brass players, euphoniumists, but still. I've been mainly self taught, watching videos from random people, reading internet forum posts by random people, I've had an entire 1 lesson from the principal trombone player in my area's symphony. I teach myself because I'm a very independent person as is, I enjoy figuring things out on my own, I enjoy being on my own, and many things about me personally coincided into a trial and error and trying new things out.

Hope this answers your questions or at least provides a new perspective.
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« Reply #49 on: Aug 09, 2016, 04:33AM »

I will start with the fact that I am 15, and am a rising junior in high school, I do not claim to even be very good at bass trombone, nor anything else I do.

Like most players my age, I started in school band while struggling to stay motivated about music. I started on trumpet (no offense to any trumpet players, but that definitely did not help my motivation) I never found my niche on trumpet, never got good at it, never found motivation and overall just wasn't having fun. I was the kid that took band because it was an easy grade. After about a year I switched to tuba, my band director was a flutist by trade, and could play the basic instruments, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, saxophone probably, but, of course, not tuba. I had the basic beginner's books to teach me the notes and the basic fingering chart. I got about as good as you could expect a middle schooler with no music experience to be. I started playing trombone in January of this year, after attempting one time and another over the past year before that. During our christmas concert there was a bass trombone part our lead tuba player played, and I was inspired, and have been playing bass trombone since. I've made leaps and bounds whether by talent or motivation, or even both. Both of my band directors luckily are low brass players, euphoniumists, but still. I've been mainly self taught, watching videos from random people, reading internet forum posts by random people, I've had an entire 1 lesson from the principal trombone player in my area's symphony. I teach myself because I'm a very independent person as is, I enjoy figuring things out on my own, I enjoy being on my own, and many things about me personally coincided into a trial and error and trying new things out.

Hope this answers your questions or at least provides a new perspective.

The information you posted tells me you will be going into your junior year this fall. If you are having fun and everyone around you is happy with the way you play - including your director - then keep doing what you are doing. But if you plan on taking your horn with you to college or otherwise continuing to play afterwards, then it wouldn't hurt for you - at your age -  to have some lessons with a GOOD trombone or brass teacher.

...Geezer
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« Reply #50 on: Aug 09, 2016, 05:23AM »

The information you posted tells me you will be going into your junior year this fall. If you are having fun and everyone around you is happy with the way you play - including your director - then keep doing what you are doing. But if you plan on taking your horn with you to college or otherwise continuing to play afterwards, then it wouldn't hurt for you - at your age -  to have some lessons with a GOOD trombone or brass teacher.

...Geezer

It wouldn't hurt for ANYONE, at ANY age (geezerly or otherwise), to have some lessons with a GOOD trombone or brass teacher.

Being self-taught is great.
Taking lessons--because "I don't know what I don't know," and having someone help point out what you don't know--is also great.
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« Reply #51 on: Aug 09, 2016, 05:35AM »

...And also everything everyone else has said. Statement above was my knee-jerk reaction to what felt like a slightly hypocritical bit of advice. :)
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« Reply #52 on: Aug 09, 2016, 06:35AM »

...And also everything everyone else has said. Statement above was my knee-jerk reaction to what felt like a slightly hypocritical bit of advice. :)

If it's hypocritical to be influenced by what others state, then yes - I am a hypocrite.

If it's hypocritical to become educated by others, then yes - I am a hypocrite.

If it's hypocritical to change, grow and evolve, then yes - I am a hypocrite.

...Geezer
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« Reply #53 on: Aug 09, 2016, 07:06AM »

Statement above was my knee-jerk reaction to what felt like a slightly snarky post. :)

...Geezer
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« Reply #54 on: Aug 09, 2016, 11:35AM »

The information you posted tells me you will be going into your junior year this fall. If you are having fun and everyone around you is happy with the way you play - including your director - then keep doing what you are doing. But if you plan on taking your horn with you to college or otherwise continuing to play afterwards, then it wouldn't hurt for you - at your age -  to have some lessons with a GOOD trombone or brass teacher.

...Geezer

I never said I didn't want lessons. It's a combination of my age and not controlling the money, I live in the middle of nowhere so walking to a job isn't an option, plus I'd really like to get out of using a school horn, so when I do get a job I'll be putting as much as I can towards that. But I will be taking lessons whenever the opportunity arises.
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« Reply #55 on: Aug 09, 2016, 11:52AM »

I never said I didn't want lessons. It's a combination of my age and not controlling the money, I live in the middle of nowhere so walking to a job isn't an option, plus I'd really like to get out of using a school horn, so when I do get a job I'll be putting as much as I can towards that. But I will be taking lessons whenever the opportunity arises.

It's tough sometimes being that age. When I was that age, there were things I wanted as well, with no way to earn the money to get them. I had to wait. Sometimes, as an adult, you get to have all the toys you wanted as a youth - if you still want them.

I'm also planning on taking some lessons in the near future. Why am I waiting? I have a pretty full load right now of things I need to do and things I still want to do on my own. But that will soon pass. Everything always does. Your turn will come as well. Perhaps in about a year, you will be driving and that will open up a lot of possibilities. Meanwhile, have as much fun as you can while you can.

...Geezer
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« Reply #56 on: Aug 09, 2016, 01:03PM »

I never said I didn't want lessons. It's a combination of my age and not controlling the money, I live in the middle of nowhere so walking to a job isn't an option, plus I'd really like to get out of using a school horn, so when I do get a job I'll be putting as much as I can towards that. But I will be taking lessons whenever the opportunity arises.

You will get more out of lessons at this point than owning your own horns, assuming you can take the school horn home to practice. While not ideal, if you want to continue music in college, they won't care if you audition on a school owned horn or a horn you own - but they will care if you can play (among other things). If you end up having to buy a horn since you are heading to college, you can talk to your future teacher about what to get, and be in a much better position to actually make good use of it.
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« Reply #57 on: Aug 10, 2016, 11:46AM »

I never said I didn't want lessons. It's a combination of my age and not controlling the money, I live in the middle of nowhere so walking to a job isn't an option, plus I'd really like to get out of using a school horn, so when I do get a job I'll be putting as much as I can towards that. But I will be taking lessons whenever the opportunity arises.
Having your own horn when you get out of highschool, and need to practice that summer between High School and College will be a necessity, unless you get real lucky and someone will loan you one.  Unless you are planning to be a trombone performance major you don't have to shoot for the moon on that first horn.  There are many very playable used horns out there that can be had at a reasonable price.  Set your sights a little lower on the horn (not knowing what your plan is I'm guessing here), and take as many lessons as you can afford also.  There are many sources of information available for self taught players, but keep in mind that not all of them are credible, and none of those on-line instructors have ever seen or heard you play to know what you already do well, and what you need to work to improve on.  I've done a lot of both taking lessons and self teaching over the years, and I definately benefit most from the time I spend with a knowledgeable instructor.   
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« Reply #58 on: Aug 10, 2016, 11:59AM »

You will get more out of lessons at this point than owning your own horns, assuming you can take the school horn home to practice. While not ideal, if you want to continue music in college, they won't care if you audition on a school owned horn or a horn you own - but they will care if you can play (among other things). If you end up having to buy a horn since you are heading to college, you can talk to your future teacher about what to get, and be in a much better position to actually make good use of it.

Good advices, guys!

I was thinking through this topic the other day and my relationship with being largely self-taught. I started wishing that I had bought a decent trombone when I first started working, back in the early 70's. But then it occurred to me that - despite all the lesson books - there was not nearly as much "how to" information available as there is now. And other than a few play-along LP's, there just wasn't all the other stuff, such as BiaB and the like that is available today. I coulda and probably woulda done a search through some larger libraries. But back then, that was about it. So if I would have wanted to learn how to the play the trombone, I would have almost certainly had to find a good teacher and get my learning passed on to me that way.

But it's far, far different now. Love it, hate it or feel indifferent about it, the Internet and all that it brings is here to stay in our lifetimes and we are inextricably bound to it. Look what happened recently at Delta when their system crashed! NOW there is a wealth of information available, albeit some or maybe even most of it (like this thread - lol) is marginally useful. But it's out there; just like most of what I might possibly find in the public library on "playing the trombone" might be marginally useful, without in-person explanations and demonstrations.

So, I'm concluding that in today's world, it IS possible for mature individuals with a bit of a knack for figuring things out on their own to self-teach the trombone reasonably well by tapping the online resources available to us today and I'm not referring to Skype. Reasonably well is the operative here. Expertly well would - for probably 99% of us - involve private instruction from a great teacher. Reasonably well was my goal when I picked up a horn to play. I've achieved that goal. I'm now planning on getting involved in private instruction to get to a higher level. From what I've read on this Forum over the years, I don't think anyone would argue the point against taking private instruction from an excellent teacher as being beneficial. But make no mistake about it, I have absolutely no regrets over being self-taught to this point and if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't want it any other way.

BUT. I am a mature person (welllll...) with a bit of a knack for figuring things out. It doesn't follow that every school-aged child can do this. Unless they are truly gifted - and heck, even if they are - they still need to be shown by someone who knows.

...Geezer
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« Reply #59 on: Aug 10, 2016, 06:27PM »

Well, Geezer, the Internet is a great place to start. I took a year of lessons before I gave back the Army's "worst 88H ever" (tm) and bought my 42B in 1974 (at the recommendation of my teacher who played an 88H."

You can use internet resources and figure things out. You can learn to be great, or more likely you can get to a better level. You may be happy, you may be good, but how do you really know?

To quote Donald Runsfeld: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones."

For me, I prefer to use this analogy and quote Steven Wright: "My bank put in 24 hour banking. I switched banks - I didn't have that much time."

Lessons save me time.
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« Reply #60 on: Aug 10, 2016, 06:50PM »

Well, Geezer, the Internet is a great place to start. I took a year of lessons before I gave back the Army's "worst 88H ever" (tm) and bought my 42B in 1974 (at the recommendation of my teacher who played an 88H."

You can use internet resources and figure things out. You can learn to be great, or more likely you can get to a better level. You may be happy, you may be good, but how do you really know?

To quote Donald Runsfeld: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones."

For me, I prefer to use this analogy and quote Steven Wright: "My bank put in 24 hour banking. I switched banks - I didn't have that much time."

Lessons save me time.

Well, that's a philosophical question of which there may be no true answer. How do we know we know? We don't. We make assumptions based upon feedback and then act on it.  Clever

I don't think I ever argued against that point.  :D

...Geezer
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« Reply #61 on: Aug 10, 2016, 07:38PM »

My own stories are not about being self-taught because I had a teacher from the time I first took my Olds Recording out of the case when I was 8 years old.  And I continuously had GREAT teachers from then until I was about 30.

But some of the best players (Dave Steinmeyer comes to mind) were self-taught, or at least Dave told me he never had a lesson.  I partially attribute his success to having never been told the wrong thing.

On the internet there is lots of well-intentioned bad information.  Sorting through it can be a problem if you don't have any guidance as to what's good. 

And it's good to not be held back by someone telling you what you can't do.  I had two or three lessons from a well respected local teacher who told me I wasn't ready for the Grade 6 solos I was playing, in high school (I was playing and had memorized the Creston Fantasy, among others). He wanted me to do the stuff he was teaching his other students.  I changed teachers quickly.

Thinking about this reminds me of when I was in 2nd grade, and in the school library I was selecting books from the 4th grade section because that's what I was reading.  The librarian told me to get books from the 2nd grade section because I couldn't possibly be ready to read the books I was choosing.  I stopped going to the school library.

(My mother had been an elementary school teacher and taught me to read very early)
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« Reply #62 on: Aug 10, 2016, 08:16PM »

My own stories are not about being self-taught because I had a teacher from the time I first took my Olds Recording out of the case when I was 8 years old.  And I continuously had GREAT teachers from then until I was about 30.

But some of the best players (Dave Steinmeyer comes to mind) were self-taught, or at least Dave told me he never had a lesson.  I partially attribute his success to having never been told the wrong thing.

On the internet there is lots of well-intentioned bad information.  Sorting through it can be a problem if you don't have any guidance as to what's good. 

And it's good to not be held back by someone telling you what you can't do.  I had two or three lessons from a well respected local teacher who told me I wasn't ready for the Grade 6 solos I was playing, in high school (I was playing and had memorized the Creston Fantasy, among others). He wanted me to do the stuff he was teaching his other students.  I changed teachers quickly.

Thinking about this reminds me of when I was in 2nd grade, and in the school library I was selecting books from the 4th grade section because that's what I was reading.  The librarian told me to get books from the 2nd grade section because I couldn't possibly be ready to read the books I was choosing.  I stopped going to the school library.

(My mother had been an elementary school teacher and taught me to read very early)

Thank you för sharing this. Particularly helpful when someone like you decides to share your thoughts since you became such a good player. I agree! Don't let anyone tell you there is something you can't do. Actually the word "can't" should be banned from all teaching. If you are a teacher you need to refrase that. Try to express what to do instead of what not to do. It WILL make you a more pleasant teacher and a more fun person to be around too.

/Tom
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« Reply #63 on: Aug 11, 2016, 01:53AM »

Quote
Thinking about this reminds me of when I was in 2nd grade, and in the school library I was selecting books from the 4th grade section because that's what I was reading.  The librarian told me to get books from the 2nd grade section because I couldn't possibly be ready to read the books I was choosing.  I stopped going to the school library

That is such a weird attitude from a library. the really good players that I have known were all way ahead of the pack very quickly. Not that I would have ever found any trombone music in my school library, oor even much music at all.
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« Reply #64 on: Aug 11, 2016, 04:39AM »

"The plot - like my gravy - thickens!", Raj - from The Big Bang Theory.

Not to dis on teachers in general, b/c they really try hard and are under a lot of stress. But let's face it, sometimes a student does well anyway. Give me 100 students and I'll bet at least half of them will do pretty well anyway. Give a great teacher 100 students and I'll bet 95% or more will do really well. A great teacher will find out what works for a LOT more variances and how to relate it so that the student "gets" it. Perhaps as Sam might state, that is a really good teacher - by definition. lol

I think it was Harrison who mentioned learning from being around good musicians. The other night, during pre-rehearal, I had three "lessons".

1) I observed a tuba player putting the mpc up to his lips and blowing one note. Pause. Lips to mpc, timed with his foot and blow the same one note again. Over & over until I guess he was satisfied, then on to another note. What a great way to practice timing and perfect attack! Now it's a part of my training.

2) I observed a 'bone player take his horn out, blow the condensate out and then play a nice little riff or two and sound darn good doing it. Why can't I do that? I can, if I decide I can!

3) I heard another 'bone player warm up low, middle and high-ish. I admired the openness of his tone through the three ranges. Now I compare the openness of my tone through the three ranges to a model of excellence I have in my head. Not HIS tone, but a model of openness of tone, given MY tone.

I'm in three bands and looking for a fourth. I learn from all those experiences. And after recovering from a large set-back due to a major health problem, I'm riding the learning curve high again. But it's starting to act like a tease and making me wonder how fast I could learn under a really good teacher.

Doug's story reminds me of a Trig teacher I had as a HS senior. Towards the end, she put a problem up on the blackboard for - presumably - the brighter students to try to solve. I remember one student who just looked at the blackboard. After a sufficient number of heads bobbed up, she said, "Well Chris, was that too hard for you"? At which point he gave the solution. She scowled at him over her horn-rimmed glasses and said, "You shouldn't know how to do that"! lol

...Geezer
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« Reply #65 on: Aug 11, 2016, 05:24AM »



Not to dis on teachers in general, b/c they really try hard and are under a lot of stress. But let's face it, sometimes a student does well anyway. Give me 100 students and I'll bet at least half of them will do pretty well anyway. Give a great teacher 100 students and I'll bet 95% or more will do really well. A great teacher will find out what works for a LOT more variances and how to relate it so that the student "gets" it. Perhaps as Sam might state, that is a really good teacher - by definition. lol


...Geezer

I'm sure we've all read Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers."  While there's a good bit of debate about the 10,000 hours, one of his other points has some validity.  One group of kids gets significantly more coaching, mentoring, training, and competition opportunities than the rest, and is seen as more talented.  He believes that not all of this talent is innate, some of it is merely because they got that extra help early (because they were born earlier in the year and were more physically developed.) 
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« Reply #66 on: Aug 11, 2016, 05:48AM »

Honestly, part of it has been a fear on my part that if I had found a local teacher who gave all appearances of being a good one - i.e. could play well and was self-confident - that he would proceed to derail me. Even if I'm doing a bunch of things wrong and actually need derailed, I make pretty nice with it all at present. I don't want to get derailed right now; I'm involved in too many groups. So I'm planning on waiting until most of the groups are in their "off" season and get myself some great instruction. If it turns out that I really need a bit of a derailing, then I have time to recover and improve. Right or wrong, that's my plan. I know me and I know how to deal with me, usually.

Lol, in my dreams - I go back in time to when I was in the 6th grade. I convince my parents to buy me a student horn, rather than the piece of condemned junk the local violin player/teacher wanted to unload from his inventory. Then I proceed to self-teach and by the middle of my 8th grade, I'm performing in the White House. Hey! We can all dream, can't we!  Way cool

In another dream, in the present, I go to a great teacher and he says, "You shouldn't know how to do that"! Ahhhhh. Dreams.

...Geezer
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« Reply #67 on: Aug 11, 2016, 04:24PM »

Bob McChesney ably demonstrating and speaking about how being self-taught enabled him to develop, amongst other things, his doodle tonguing. I have to say that Bob has always impressed me with his trombone technique in all areas. And he plays some very swinging jazz! Good!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEOoe3frd3M

I have to say that my own self teaching did not produce the same results. :D  However, in analysing my own playing experiences and the various times I undertook self study to improve my own playing, that I just do not see how all of that could have been accomplished in a few years of formal training, no matter how good the teacher.

I guess there are some short cuts in the learning experience if you find a good teacher, which I did to learn jazz theory and arranging in workshop type sessions. Back in the late 1950s I attended Owen Bryce's one-evening-per-week jazz course at Hendon Tech in the UK. Owen was a pioneer of Revivalist Jazz in the UK, playing with George Webb’s Dixielanders. I have always been thankful for the jazz chord theory training he provided.

http://blogs.greenwich.co.uk/mary-mills/obituary-owen-bryce/

Much later, in my second-time around playing jazz trombone, I attended workshops with Aussie sax player Freddie Wilson. His jazz theory instruction took me that extra step further in my approach to improvisation. Also I met a lot of the Aussie musicians who I played with in later years - although it is surprising how many of them were originally Poms like myself. :D
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May you stay......forever young."
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« Reply #68 on: Aug 12, 2016, 12:01AM »

This thread has been useful to me as it has caused me to think about how I learn and how I teach. A few things come to mind.

I'm always a little leery of the 40+ year old player who proudly states they have never had a lesson. Very few of these players do not have a flaw that could be fixed with a lesson or two. But, having reached their current level on their own, their pride takes over and they don't want to break their "string" of being self-taught.

As an adult, the responsibility for learning and and development is always on the student. A senior high school student, after 12 years of schooling, might very well have more years of experience learning than many of their teachers have teaching. Applying this to teaching advanced trombonists, where does the teacher learn the necessary teaching skills to pass along their knowledge? Well, we do have this section called pedagogy to discuss things. References have a lot to do in finding a good teacher as well.

I play mostly tenor, but I took a lesson last Christmas on bass to ostensibly work on the independent valve setup of my Xeno bass. I also had a bit of a "hitch in my giddyup" with my bass that I was looking to solve. This teacher reached out to me based on a post on this forum, plus I had a sterling recommendation from a good friend. At the lesson, which went about 100 minutes, we went through a bunch of things, none that seemed impressive to me at the time, but a number of things have subsequently become clearer to me, and I can't even remember why I was having the "hitch" problem. So in retrospect, it was a great lesson.


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« Reply #69 on: Aug 12, 2016, 03:40AM »

Even the the most experienced Olympic athletes have trainers and coaches. If you're competing against someone with years of training from a great coach, while you have none (or a mediocre one), your likely to be the inferior player in that binary choice.
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« Reply #70 on: Aug 12, 2016, 04:32AM »

This thread has been useful to me as it has caused me to think about how I learn and how I teach. A few things come to mind.

I'm always a little leery of the 40+ year old player who proudly states they have never had a lesson. Very few of these players do not have a flaw that could be fixed with a lesson or two. But, having reached their current level on their own, their pride takes over and they don't want to break their "string" of being self-taught.

As an adult, the responsibility for learning and and development is always on the student. A senior high school student, after 12 years of schooling, might very well have more years of experience learning than many of their teachers have teaching. Applying this to teaching advanced trombonists, where does the teacher learn the necessary teaching skills to pass along their knowledge? Well, we do have this section called pedagogy to discuss things. References have a lot to do in finding a good teacher as well.

I play mostly tenor, but I took a lesson last Christmas on bass to ostensibly work on the independent valve setup of my Xeno bass. I also had a bit of a "hitch in my giddyup" with my bass that I was looking to solve. This teacher reached out to me based on a post on this forum, plus I had a sterling recommendation from a good friend. At the lesson, which went about 100 minutes, we went through a bunch of things, none that seemed impressive to me at the time, but a number of things have subsequently become clearer to me, and I can't even remember why I was having the "hitch" problem. So in retrospect, it was a great lesson.


You bet! Pride has been a huge motivator for me in being self-taught as far as I currently am and I mentioned that. But I also mentioned there can be another kind of pride; the pride of being a student of...

I think it has been most interesting that David Steinmeyer and Bob Mcchesney are both self-taught! That's pretty impressive! Especially considering that Bob invented doodle-tonguing! Imagine if he would have been a student and his teacher told him he was going down a blind alley with that technique!  Amazed

Torobone, I think you had a "hear him now and believe him later" experience! I think we all have them if we stop to think about it.

Here's my theory:

We can all self-teach until we hit the wall. Then we find a teacher. Where do we hit the wall? A school-aged child hits it when he takes his horn out of his case. An adult might hit it there as well, or he might hit it a week, month, year or somewhere down the road. Apparently David and Bob never hit it. I haven't hit it yet, but I've been close. So I think I'll be hitting it sometime soon.

Even the the most experienced Olympic athletes have trainers and coaches. If your competing against someone with years of training from a great coach, while you have none (or a mediocre one), your likely to be the inferior player in that binary choice.

I was so waiting for someone to come up with that!  :D

It's hard for me to argue against that concept, except that playing the trombone is not in the Olympics. It's also not a sport, game or athletic event - normally. Evil

Anyway, I also agree that is has been interesting thus far and is helping to evolve my own attitude about it - if that doesn't make me a hypocrite.  Evil

...Geezer
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« Reply #71 on: Aug 12, 2016, 04:37AM »

What is a wall?  Is it not just a bad habit? 

Could you avoid a bad habit if kept on the right path?  And not need to unlearn it?  Bad habits hurt you twice. 
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« Reply #72 on: Aug 12, 2016, 04:45AM »

Even the the most experienced Olympic athletes have trainers and coaches. If you're competing against someone with years of training from a great coach, while you have none (or a mediocre one), your likely to be the inferior player in that binary choice.

snip--
I was so waiting for someone to come up with that!  :D
It's hard for me to argue against that concept, except that playing the trombone is not in the Olympics. It's also not a sport, game or athletic event - normally. Evil
--snip
...Geezer

I often think that performing a trombone audition is similar to performing at the Olympics on the balance beam.
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« Reply #73 on: Aug 12, 2016, 04:48AM »

What is a wall?  Is it not just a bad habit? 

Could you avoid a bad habit if kept on the right path?  And not need to unlearn it?  Bad habits hurt you twice. 

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmaybe. But I was thinking of "hitting a wall" as being an insurmountable obstacle that couldn't be figured out on one's own, as opposed to a single bad habit or three that impinges one's playing. There are those who put band-aids on bad habits and get so expert at it that you would have a very difficult time seeing that bad habit or if you could, then marvel at how well they can play anyway.

I often think that performing a trombone audition is similar to performing at the Olympics on the balance beam.

I can't and won't argue the validity of that mental concept. If it works for you, then it's gold.  Way cool

For me, playing the trombone is a meager attempt at imitating a really good player; not in how he does it, but the results he gets. So it's kinda not me playing that horn. It's him. Shhhhhh! Don't tell him - whomever that might be.  Evil

...Geezer
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« Reply #74 on: Aug 12, 2016, 05:38AM »

You bet! Pride has been a huge motivator for me in being self-taught as far as I currently am and I mentioned that. But I also mentioned there can be another kind of pride; the pride of being a student of...

Well, "being a student of" carries a certain transference of credentials.

I think it has been most interesting that David Steinmeyer and Bob Mcchesney are both self-taught! That's pretty impressive! Especially considering that Bob invented doodle-tonguing! Imagine if he would have been a student and his teacher told him he was going down a blind alley with that technique!  Amazed

Actually, from Bob McChesney's Wikipedia Page:

"Mr. McChesney is a trombonist born in Maryland, and began studying trombone at the age of nine, and holds a bachelor's degree from State University of New York at Fredonia. He moved to Los Angeles in 1979."

His web page says: "primarily self-taught", which is different than "never had a lesson".  If we were all self-taught, we wouldn't go to his clinics or buy his books!   Amazed  Certainly, noone taught him doodle tonguing.

My best teachers never discouraged me. At this point in my life, I choose my teachers, and I have had a couple of lessons where I just moved on. Are you afraid that a teacher would change something you hold dear?

Torobone, I think you had a "hear him now and believe him later" experience! I think we all have them if we stop to think about it.

Actually, no. We didn't discuss anything related to what I mentioned as a problem. The problem resolved itself as I worked following the lesson. Maybe I just figured it out myself, but I really think the lesson helped by just hearing the topics we did cover.

With the fine trombonist I visit a couple of times per year, what you said is quite true.


Here's my theory:

We can all self-teach until we hit the wall. Then we find a teacher. Where do we hit the wall? A school-aged child hits it when he takes his horn out of his case. An adult might hit it there as well, or he might hit it a week, month, year or somewhere down the road. Apparently David and Bob never hit it. I haven't hit it yet, but I've been close. So I think I'll be hitting it sometime soon.


We can all teach ourselves at any time. You don't need to hit a wall to take a lesson, although this is one reason. I also take a lesson when I just feel that expert feedback would help, where I've learned things "so far".

My teacher sometimes points me in directions that I haven't thought of (The "unknown unknowns").
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« Reply #75 on: Aug 12, 2016, 06:01AM »

Well, "being a student of" carries a certain transference of credentials.

Actually, from Bob McChesney's Wikipedia Page:

"Mr. McChesney is a trombonist born in Maryland, and began studying trombone at the age of nine, and holds a bachelor's degree from State University of New York at Fredonia. He moved to Los Angeles in 1979."

His web page says: "primarily self-taught", which is different than "never had a lesson".  If we were all self-taught, we wouldn't go to his clinics or buy his books!   Amazed  Certainly, noone taught him doodle tonguing.

My best teachers never discouraged me. At this point in my life, I choose my teachers, and I have had a couple of lessons where I just moved on. Are you afraid that a teacher would change something you hold dear?

Actually, no. We didn't discuss anything related to what I mentioned as a problem. The problem resolved itself as I worked following the lesson. Maybe I just figured it out myself, but I really think the lesson helped by just hearing the topics we did cover.

With the fine trombonist I visit a couple of times per year, what you said is quite true.

We can all teach ourselves at any time. You don't need to hit a wall to take a lesson, although this is one reason. I also take a lesson when I just feel that expert feedback would help, where I've learned things "so far".

My teacher sometimes points me in directions that I haven't thought of (The "unknown unknowns").

I don't fundamentally disagree with anything you state. However, for the sake of discussion...

Well, then - am I truly self-taught? I had beaucoup lessons as a youth. About a year or so after I took up the 'bone, I had a productive session with Doug. Can I still state that I am "largely self-taught"? I always think of myself as being resourceful and Doug was a resource. Would I have been able to figure it out by myself, given my propensity to experiment? I'll never know. Now perhaps I could GREATLY stretch a point and state that having regular lessons is being EXTREMELY resourceful. But I think we both know that would be a bunch of hooey.

Still, I'll make the point that an isolated session IS being resourceful. I also view Bob Mcchesney's (and others') clinics and books as resources - same as observing successful fellow musicians is resourceful. Same as using information gleaned from social media, the library, phone conversations I have had, etc is being resourceful - as Sam might state - "by definition". Top heads of companies employ resources and yet they aren't relinquishing their self-direction by so doing. Can I do the same, or am I full of it?


I believe you have had good teachers or else have dismissed them. If I thought a teacher was trying to steer me down a certain path merely because that was HIS path and he didn't know any other way - then perhaps I would dismiss him as well if I didn't agree with it.

I believe Tommy Dorsey did the same thing!

Sorry about the colors, but it gets the job done!

...Geezer
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« Reply #76 on: Aug 12, 2016, 06:14AM »

A wall is not always a bad habit, but it's a matter of perspective.

When it's a bad habit, it's an error you are making.

When it's not, it's a skill or method you have yet to stumble on.  But that means your current okay habit is not working.  It may not be a bad habit but it is a habit.  (I'm going to connect it up your honor.)

I don't mean to speak dogmatically, just using shorthand here.  I'm sure it's not this simple or certain.

Habits inherently prevent acquiring new skills, even when they are good ones.  Consistency can be the enemy of the new.  Error can be the raw material of improvement, if you're lucky to have one in the right direction. 

A rigid teacher might prevent your lucky error just as easily as the right teacher steers you into it.  On average you're safer with the teacher, but I guess YMMV.  I need a teacher regardless because observing myself is not one of my strengths, so that interaction complicates things. 
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« Reply #77 on: Aug 12, 2016, 06:15AM »

   I really appreciated my teachers while I was young and starting out. They all gave me DIRECTION in one way or another. it was still up to me to apply and understand what I had been told. We all benefit from comments/advice from anyone,not just great players or even musicians. Some of the best advice I've gotten over the years has come from audience members,fans of what we all do: PERFORM,mostly blending into an ensemble.
  Self -teaching can be a great thing if you brutally honest with yourself and have an extremely open mind. There is always more to learn more musically as you progress as a proficient trombonist. A lot of times the things that really advance you musically as a  player are simple things involving musicality.I pretty much feel that most of my students are "coached" by me rather than "taught". I try to give ideas and techniques that have worked well for me in different musical situations and let the student work things out. I will only give advice such as this sounds better than this "to me".I'm no be it all or end it all authority, and I believe there are many different valid interpretations to music.(creativity).
  As far as "hitting a wall" we all do from time to time in one way or another. It has been told to me the best thing is to take a step or two back,relax analyze the issue.Usually it is some small flaw in one's technique.
 I hope my thoughts,comments are still within the parameters of this discussion.
     From a pretty darn good player who is still learning every moment of every day. :D
Bob R

P.S. Geezer,You are the BEST! Good!
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« Reply #78 on: Aug 12, 2016, 06:47AM »

Thank you, Bob!

Not wishing to drop any names here, but I know you have had a couple of the best teachers, coaches, mentors - not only from a trombone standpoint, but from a musicality standpoint as well! And let's face it; past a certain point, it's the musicality aspect (not to neglect articulation - wink, wink) that separates the honkers from the playahs!

...Geezer
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« Reply #79 on: Aug 12, 2016, 08:47AM »

The concert I played last night was an optional one, as a fill in with a band that's just too far and on the wrong night to play with. 

I agreed because I'd be playing second to an awesome first player.  Every gig next to someone good IS a lesson, if you try to learn from it.

My wife agreed to come along because we had a trombone feature programmed she'd never heard. 

They cut it, we ran short of time.  My wife went ballistic er, was displeased and ranted expressed some concern to the director afterwords. 

Long story short, the band left, the first and I played it through anyway.

Probably they won't call me again.  Hee, hee.   
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« Reply #80 on: Aug 12, 2016, 09:21AM »

A wall is not always a bad habit, but it's a matter of perspective.

When it's a bad habit, it's an error you are making.

When it's not, it's a skill or method you have yet to stumble on.  But that means your current okay habit is not working.  It may not be a bad habit but it is a habit.  (I'm going to connect it up your honor.)

I don't mean to speak dogmatically, just using shorthand here.  I'm sure it's not this simple or certain.

Habits inherently prevent acquiring new skills, even when they are good ones.  Consistency can be the enemy of the new.  Error can be the raw material of improvement, if you're lucky to have one in the right direction. 

A rigid teacher might prevent your lucky error just as easily as the right teacher steers you into it.  On average you're safer with the teacher, but I guess YMMV.  I need a teacher regardless because observing myself is not one of my strengths, so that interaction complicates things. 

Whew! Tim! You're deep. Been reading again, huh? lol

Okay. I don't read that much, but I disagree with habits preventing one from learning new skills. Many, many things I do throughout the day are habits; flossing my teeth, making coffee, etc. They haven't prevented me from learning how to floss better or make better coffee if I stumble across something myself or come across someone who inspires me to do better, even if I have historically flossed my teeth badly and have historically made terrible-tasting coffee. What prevents me from learning new and maybe better habits is the limitations of my own mind. Perhaps we are actually on the same page. I don't know because I'm not sure I understand your statements.

I agree about the chance encounters. But on average, we are safer with a teacher? Well, there simply aren't enough numbers to crunch to solve that assertion. So it's like trying to argue that on average, we will play better with a King in our hands as compared to a Kanstul. I mean, okay. Who could argue - the number of Kings sold have far outpaced the number of Kanstuls sold - if that even means anything. Similarly, the number of those who have been taught vs those who have self-taught is probably as wide or wider than the above example. But does it mean safety in numbers?

If YOU need a teacher because you feel inadequate in self-teaching due to not being in tune with feedback, then YOU need a teacher. No argument there. You ought to know! I feel that I have a pretty good but never-the-less limited ability to connect the dots through my own feedback, casual observations, conversations and experiments. I'm also getting the idea that someone else whom we might call a teacher, coach or mentor could inspire me or otherwise show me how to make more and better connections. Isn't learning all about making connections? Isn't that what we call "Aha moments"?


...Geezer
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« Reply #81 on: Aug 12, 2016, 09:42AM »

We can make so many assumptions. We are really into the realm of having a teacher or not, rather than being completely self-taught. Ideas and feedback are everywhere, unless you have no internet, books, or recordings.

I'm imagining a touching story of a lone survivor of a shipwreck, where one of the items washed ashore is a trombone. The person, initially a young child, opens the case, after a few weeks, learns how to put the bone together, etc. A few decades later, he/she is rescued and everyone is enthralled with the marvelous playing. World peace ensues.

Even with a teacher, understanding and acting on feedback is up to the student. Otherwise we get Florence Foster Jenkins.
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« Reply #82 on: Aug 12, 2016, 10:24AM »



Even with a teacher, understanding and acting on feedback is up to the student. Otherwise we get Florence Foster Jenkins.

There's a new movie about her, I can't wait to see it. 

Might bring ear plugs. 
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« Reply #83 on: Aug 12, 2016, 02:09PM »

We can make so many assumptions. We are really into the realm of having a teacher or not, rather than being completely self-taught. Ideas and feedback are everywhere, unless you have no internet, books, or recordings.

I'm imagining a touching story of a lone survivor of a shipwreck, where one of the items washed ashore is a trombone. The person, initially a young child, opens the case, after a few weeks, learns how to put the bone together, etc. A few decades later, he/she is rescued and everyone is enthralled with the marvelous playing. World peace ensues.

Even with a teacher, understanding and acting on feedback is up to the student. Otherwise we get Florence Foster Jenkins.

When it comes down to it, how many of us are truly self-taught? I'm not. I can see now that I am largely self-taught. I had a number of lessons as a youth, some 48 years ago and a single session with Doug more recently. Unless we could possibly live in total isolation, then we are taught by those around us and all that's available to us.

But I guess the crux of this thread was a query as to who among us considers themselves, for the most part, being self-taught. And possibly more importantly - why. There has been some pretty cool inputs.

I've recently become aware of some darn good players who were initially taught by an illustrious teacher. But after a certain point, they self-taught. So, if we reach a certain level of ability and we then go for the next 20-30 years on our own, are we now largely self-taught? Or will we always be Mr. X's student? Personally, I would kinda like it if I had been initially taught by Mr. X and I could aspire to regard myself as a successful student of his who has gone out on his own. Perhaps it's not too late...

...Geezer
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« Reply #84 on: Aug 13, 2016, 07:54AM »

I've recently become aware of some darn good players who were initially taught by an illustrious teacher. But after a certain point, they self-taught. So, if we reach a certain level of ability and we then go for the next 20-30 years on our own, are we now largely self-taught? Or will we always be Mr. X's student? Personally, I would kinda like it if I had been initially taught by Mr. X and I could aspire to regard myself as a successful student of his who has gone out on his own. Perhaps it's not too late...

...Geezer

I think that's called finding your own voice.
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« Reply #85 on: Aug 13, 2016, 08:21AM »

I think that's called finding your own voice.

Yes. And it could also be thought of as still being attached to a beloved teacher one once had.

I'll post this as a rhetorical question b/c I know guys don't like to put it out there. How many have had a teacher who has made such a profound impact on you that you still hold them in the highest esteem, even though they may be retired, out of touch or gone? Just something to reflect upon...

...Geezer
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« Reply #86 on: Aug 13, 2016, 09:38AM »

When it comes down to it, how many of us are truly self-taught? I'm not. I can see now that I am largely self-taught. I had a number of lessons as a youth, some 48 years ago and a single session with Doug more recently. Unless we could possibly live in total isolation, then we are taught by those around us and all that's available to us.

But I guess the crux of this thread was a query as to who among us considers themselves, for the most part, being self-taught. And possibly more importantly - why. There has been some pretty cool inputs.

I've recently become aware of some darn good players who were initially taught by an illustrious teacher. But after a certain point, they self-taught. So, if we reach a certain level of ability and we then go for the next 20-30 years on our own, are we now largely self-taught? Or will we always be Mr. X's student? Personally, I would kinda like it if I had been initially taught by Mr. X and I could aspire to regard myself as a successful student of his who has gone out on his own. Perhaps it's not too late...

...Geezer

 The question if we consider ourself to be self taught because we no longer meet the teacher for lessons must be very different. As I said my first years I was practically self taught. I don't consider this to have helped me in any way. I did most things wrong until I met a real teacher when I was 15-16 years old. I started at 12. During these first critical years I learned everything myself and most things was wrong. I had a terrible smile embuschure and a "whole-hand-grip"on the slide. Could not name a single note and could not read any music. I was pretty much self taught and I have spent many, many years to relearn those first years. It had probably been better for me technically if I had not played anything those first four years. In high school I had to take some time off from all bandplaying,  and to concentrate on tone-production and try to find a more relaxed way to approach the instrument. This was a tough period in my life. Then everything got better and I think my last lesson was in the late 1990-ies. I remember I had a single lesson back then, probably somewhere around 1996. I was 33 at that time and I had two small children at home to take care of.

Then I have had no more real lessons, but the things my good teacher said to me still helps me, and I still hear his words. In this aspect he is still around and helps me become a better player. I have also gotten some free advice now and then and I do take those serious... so even though I have no lessons I still work on those same things he taught me. I will probably learn from him for the rest of my life even though I take no lessons.;-)

/Tom
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« Reply #87 on: Aug 13, 2016, 11:18AM »

The question if we consider ourself to be self taught because we no longer meet the teacher for lessons must be very different. As I said my first years I was practically self taught. I don't consider this to have helped me in any way. I did most things wrong until I met a real teacher when I was 15-16 years old. I started at 12. During these first critical years I learned everything myself and most things was wrong. I had a terrible smile embuschure and a "whole-hand-grip"on the slide. Could not name a single note and could not read any music. I was pretty much self taught and I have spent many, many years to relearn those first years. It had probably been better for me technically if I had not played anything those first four years. In high school I had to take some time off from all bandplaying,  and to concentrate on tone-production and try to find a more relaxed way to approach the instrument. This was a tough period in my life. Then everything got better and I think my last lesson was in the late 1990-ies. I remember I had a single lesson back then, probably somewhere around 1996. I was 33 at that time and I had two small children at home to take care of.

Then I have had no more real lessons, but the things my good teacher said to me still helps me, and I still hear his words. In this aspect he is still around and helps me become a better player. I have also gotten some free advice now and then and I do take those serious... so even though I have no lessons I still work on those same things he taught me. I will probably learn from him for the rest of my life even though I take no lessons.;-)

/Tom


I think it's safe to state that ALL beginners of school age need to get started by a teacher, or else they may get themselves "Tom'd"! Apparently, learning the wrong way left deeply ingrained habits in you. I had them as well and I had lessons as a youth! So it's not a fail-safe approach either. By the time I got referred to a good trombone teacher, I was up against high school graduation and that was the end of that for me. If I had those better lessons from a better teacher earlier in my childhood, I might have taken my horn to college with me and then who knows. But I prefer to think how much more I appreciate what I can do right now because the opportunity wasn't handed to me - or you for that matter - you on a silver platter.

But with more mature and resourceful adults just starting, the question of the necessity of lessons is still up for grabs as far as I am concerned, although lessons shouldn't hurt them (us).

I can't set the world on fire - not even close - but it makes me happy every time I play. So I must be really happy, because I play a LOT! lol

...Geezer
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« Reply #88 on: Aug 13, 2016, 12:27PM »

I'm losing track of "the question." Remind me, please?

Yes. And it could also be thought of as still being attached to a beloved teacher one once had.

I'll post this as a rhetorical question b/c I know guys don't like to put it out there. How many have had a teacher who has made such a profound impact on you that you still hold them in the highest esteem, even though they may be retired, out of touch or gone? Just something to reflect upon...

...Geezer

Is this only directed towards students of "The Illustrious Mr. X," not students of "That Brass Player Down the Street"...?

If someone made a profound impact on me (which all of my teachers have, because any impact on my playing feels profound, and all of my teachers have had some impact on how I think about the trombone), then... yeah, of course I hold them in the highest esteem. Cause and effect. They helped make me a better player. Therefore, they are awesome.

----

I think it's safe to state that ALL beginners of school age need to get started by a teacher, or else they may get themselves "Tom'd"!

But that question is still up for grabs as far as I am concerned  - with more mature and resourceful adults just starting, although lessons certainly wouldn't hurt them (us) either.

Apparently, learning the wrong way left deeply ingrained habits in you. I had them as well. But think how much more you appreciate what you can do right now because it wasn't handed to you on a silver platter! I know I sure do! I can't set the world on fire - not even close - but it makes me happy every time I play. So I must be really happy, because I play a LOT! lol

...Geezer

"Silver platter"... Lesson students still need to work for it--not just the physicality of mastering the skill, but the mentality of figuring out what the heck the teacher is trying to communicate to you. It's a little like reading advice on TTF, except it's personalized advice from someone who can see and hear what you're doing wrong (and identify things you might not even know you're doing wrong!), instead of generic advice for common problems that may or may not apply to your situation.

Lessons can help give shape and direction and focus and more frequent "lightbulb moments" to what you're ultimately figuring out for yourself.

To Martin's point:
We are really into the realm of having a teacher or not, rather than being completely self-taught. Ideas and feedback are everywhere, unless you have no internet, books, or recordings.
...
Even with a teacher, understanding and acting on feedback is up to the student. Otherwise we get Florence Foster Jenkins.
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« Reply #89 on: Aug 13, 2016, 01:21PM »

I'm losing track of "the question." Remind me, please?

Is this only directed towards students of "The Illustrious Mr. X," not students of "That Brass Player Down the Street"...?

If someone made a profound impact on me (which all of my teachers have, because any impact on my playing feels profound, and all of my teachers have had some impact on how I think about the trombone), then... yeah, of course I hold them in the highest esteem. Cause and effect. They helped make me a better player. Therefore, they are awesome.

----

"Silver platter"... Lesson students still need to work for it--not just the physicality of mastering the skill, but the mentality of figuring out what the heck the teacher is trying to communicate to you. It's a little like reading advice on TTF, except it's personalized advice from someone who can see and hear what you're doing wrong (and identify things you might not even know you're doing wrong!), instead of generic advice for common problems that may or may not apply to your situation.

Lessons can help give shape and direction and focus and more frequent "lightbulb moments" to what you're ultimately figuring out for yourself.

To Martin's point:

Lol. I knew when I typed "silver platter", it was going to cause concern. From my perspective, "silver platter" means those households that could have afforded a better student horn instead of a piece of junk and lessons from someone who actually played trombone - as opposed to someone who had to read to me "how to" from the front of a lesson book. Those items may seem "duh" to most, however they were lacking for me.

But I'm not throwing my 'rents under a bus. They tried the only way they knew how back then. And I could have risen above all of that. I knew I sounded terrible. I knew what a good trombone sounded like. I tried various experiments on my own to get a better sound. I couldn't find it.

My local band director was brilliant at teaching trumpets but also clueless for some odd reason about the trombone and the rest of my section-mates knew it as well, so it wasn't just me. Then I had a second outside teacher who was a nice guy and had music in his veins, but not a clue as to how one should play trombone. I regard him highly never-the-less because he did teach me a little musicality and he did know his limitations to the extent that he referred me up the food chain to an excellent trombone player/teacher. But by the time I got to him, it was too little, too late and that era in my life was over. I still have high regards for him as well, though. He went on to play with some notable groups. Wish I would have somehow gotten to him a year or two sooner!

That's my story and I suppose it colors my perception to this day.

...Geezer
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« Reply #90 on: Aug 13, 2016, 03:34PM »


My local band director was brilliant at teaching trumpets but also clueless for some odd reason about the trombone and the rest of my section-mates knew it as well, so it wasn't just me. Then I had a second outside teacher who was a nice guy and had music in his veins, but not a clue as to how one should play trombone.

I'm not surprised at all that a Trumpet teacher would be clueless about teaching the trombone. It's the slide; how would they understand about using the whole of the slide, let alone the finer points without having a lot of playing experience?
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« Reply #91 on: Aug 13, 2016, 04:29PM »

I'm not surprised at all that a Trumpet teacher would be clueless about teaching the trombone. It's the slide; how would they understand about using the whole of the slide, let alone the finer points without having a lot of playing experience?

Don't know how they are trained. And I don't know if it was just him or it was a widespread problem back then.

Band directors had to give weekly lessons to practically everyone in the band. Maybe they still do. I don't know how a band director could be expected to know the details about embouchure, etc unique to brass players. But he was a trumpet player. Thing is, he wasn't a very good trumpet player. He was musical, but he didn't sound right somehow and he knew it. It bothered him greatly. So maybe he didn't have much information on embouchure. Maybe not many of them did. Maybe I can't and shouldn't lay any blame on him. Maybe it was the system back then - as far as trying to learn anything as a "problem student" from a high school band director.

Maybe, for me it was a perfect storm; everything that could be out of whack was out of whack. I have come to know that the junker horn I used inherently had a stuffy tone in the lower/middle range - exactly where a beginner student would spend 95% of his time. Add to that a 12C mouthpiece - yeah a "beginner" mouthpiece - for me, of all kids - with probably the most generous chops in my whole class. Add to that, a violin teacher as my first teacher. No dis intended to violin players. But given that embouchure knowledge was scarce at that time at that level - and why would he even care about it - I was perfectly set up for failure.

Well, I pretty much have it all sorted out now - after about 48 or so years. And that is one of the reasons why I took it up again - to finally work it out. So I can highly identify with Tom's angst. But I bet that rough start helps to fuel both Tom's and my passion.

...Geezer
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« Reply #92 on: Aug 14, 2016, 02:10AM »

Things You Don't Learn in Music School:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIdrf-byxfk

And if you are into my kind of jazz, this video on 'Collective Improvisation in New Orleans Jazz' has some good tips:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EadpcjMB_2s
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« Reply #93 on: Aug 14, 2016, 02:45AM »

I see the trombone books are better today than before. They have more text that explain much more. I just got the Ben's basic. We didn't have such things when I was young. Internet has lot of information but it can be difficult to trust all of it.

All in all life is more easy today, but we loose some and win something as the world goes on.

Leif
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« Reply #94 on: Aug 14, 2016, 03:44AM »

Don't know how they are trained. And I don't know if it was just him or it was a widespread problem back then.

Band directors had to give weekly lessons to practically everyone in the band. Maybe they still do. I don't know how a band director could be expected to know the details about embouchure, etc unique to brass players. But he was a trumpet player. Thing is, he wasn't a very good trumpet player. He was musical, but he didn't sound right somehow and he knew it. It bothered him greatly. So maybe he didn't have much information on embouchure. Maybe not many of them did. Maybe I can't and shouldn't lay any blame on him. Maybe it was the system back then - as far as trying to learn anything as a "problem student" from a high school band director.

Maybe, for me it was a perfect storm; everything that could be out of whack was out of whack. I have come to know that the junker horn I used inherently had a stuffy tone in the lower/middle range - exactly where a beginner student would spend 95% of his time. Add to that a 12C mouthpiece - yeah a "beginner" mouthpiece - for me, of all kids - with probably the most generous chops in my whole class. Add to that, a violin teacher as my first teacher. No dis intended to violin players. But given that embouchure knowledge was scarce at that time at that level - and why would he even care about it - I was perfectly set up for failure.

Well, I pretty much have it all sorted out now - after about 48 or so years. And that is one of the reasons why I took it up again - to finally work it out. So I can highly identify with Tom's angst. But I bet that rough start helps to fuel both Tom's and my passion.

...Geezer

I can usually tell a trombonists who's ben taught mainly by trumpet teachers by the "pump action" slide positions. i.e. fundamental positions being used at all times even though there much better alternatives to be had.


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« Reply #95 on: Aug 14, 2016, 04:47AM »

I see the trombone books are better today than before. They have more text that explain much more. I just got the Ben's basic. We didn't have such things when I was young. Internet has lot of information but it can be difficult to trust all of it.

All in all life is more easy today, but we loose some and win something as the world goes on.

Leif

I agree. Printed matter these days is better than ever and there are so many cd's, etc available now than ever before - not to mention electronic hardware and software.

And yes, there is a lot of information on the Internet. Not all of it is good. But not all information available from any source is good. So it's really up to the individual to intelligently sift through it. And I believe it's good to be skeptical. If there was more skepticism or even cynicism today, there would be a lot less successful scams abounding, and perhaps better political choices.

I wouldn't want to be alive in any other time period. Now is my time. It may not be perfect but it's what we have.

I can usually tell a trombonists who's ben taught mainly by trumpet teachers by the "pump action" slide positions. i.e. fundamental positions being used at all times even though there much better alternatives to be had.

There may be that and the head-dipping trumpet players all seem to do for their lower notes. So perhaps if a young wannabe trombone student sees his trumpet-teacher playing, he will try to imitate that. And maybe it will work, but maybe the student should be taught his own way - depending upon his own needs - to go from low to high or high to low.

Anyway, no system is perfect and all of this is not meant to discourage those who need to seek lessons. And yet it may serve to raise consciousness for selecting a teacher that is right for the individual's needs. And those needs vary from the extreme basic to the extreme advanced and all points in-between.

Things You Don't Learn in Music School:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIdrf-byxfk

And if you are into my kind of jazz, this video on 'Collective Improvisation in New Orleans Jazz' has some good tips:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EadpcjMB_2s


Good vids. I especially like the down-to-earth common sense stuff in the first one.

I also liked how Jason(?), the trombone player, found the right bass notes to accompany the simple melody line. And how the clarinet player found what I like to think of as an "alternate melody line", based upon the chord changes. I like to try practicing that by muting the melody line on BiaB and creating my own while watching the chords as they play. I'm pretty terrible at it, but sometimes I surprise myself! And it is that positive re-enforcement that encourages me to try again.

...Geezer
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« Reply #96 on: Oct 29, 2016, 08:47PM »

I played for 15 years before I took lessons at the Royal Conservatory.   The teacher asked me to play any major scale double octave and I couldn't do it without flubbing the notes.  My technique had holes and it limited what kind of music I could play.  The Conservatory publishes a book called the Syllabus which defines the technical standards for each of their grade levels.   I suggest that you get that book to progressively develop your scales and arpeggios.

Having said that, I don't think you have to be super technical to play good music so here's another approach if you don't want to hammer away at scales.   Get a Zoom recorder and record yourself playing and then listen to it.  It's amazing how many things will jump out at you.  You can hear if you're playing out of tune on certain notes or whether your phrasing is lumpy.

I haven't taken lessons in years because I'm busy raising a family and working.   I've found that recording and listening to the playback is the next best thing to taking lessons.

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« Reply #97 on: Oct 30, 2016, 05:38AM »

A couple months ago I started having sessions with a truly marvelous instructor - Bob Riddle. He's on this forum and teaches within the Pittsburgh area. Now I wish I would have started with him a lot sooner.

In just a couple sessions, he has coached me into an embouchure that has opened my tone up quite a bit to where others have noticed the improvement. His demonstrations and explanations are top notch. A lesson with him isn't just a lesson, it's a musical experience!

I see him about once a month or so and then spend the time in-between working on what I have learned. His approach is to encourage the mastery of technique and then it's application in a musical setting. He is not only a terrific teacher on trombone (and lower brass in general), he is a superb music teacher as well. Bob is a first-class musician through-and-through who happens to play lights out trombone.

So fortunate to be one of his students...

...Geezer
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« Reply #98 on: Oct 30, 2016, 04:51PM »

A couple months ago I started having sessions with a truly marvelous instructor - Bob Riddle. He's on this forum and teaches within the Pittsburgh area. Now I wish I would have started with him a lot sooner.

In just a couple sessions, he has coached me into an embouchure that has opened my tone up quite a bit to where others have noticed the improvement. His demonstrations and explanations are top notch. A lesson with him isn't just a lesson, it's a musical experience!

I see him about once a month or so and then spend the time in-between working on what I have learned. His approach is to encourage the mastery of technique and then it's application in a musical setting. He is not only a terrific teacher on trombone (and lower brass in general), he is a superb music teacher as well. Bob is a first-class musician through-and-through who happens to play lights out trombone.

So fortunate to be one of his students...

...Geezer

Congratulations on making a connection with a teacher that really speaks to you. Enjoy the journey.
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« Reply #99 on: Nov 02, 2016, 08:01AM »

Congratulations on making a connection with a teacher that really speaks to you. Enjoy the journey.

Oh, I am!

He knows I like playing ballads with accompaniment and encourages me. He coached me into becoming very familiar with a few to the extent that I can experiment playing them in different styles.

Currently, I am listening to recordings to identify what basic elements makes a trombone artist unique from others. So now I am trying to play a couple ballads kinda the way Carl Fontana, Ira Nepus or Harold Betters might play them. Naturally, I can't keep up with their technique when they are on a roll. But it's a heck of a lot of fun attempting to play the ballads with some basic elements I have identified from each style. So for example, when I play a ballad with a basic Carl Fontana style, I'll try to mimic his articulation, lip vibrato and try to find notes that you wouldn't think could sound nice, but do anyway.

...Geezer
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« Reply #100 on: Nov 03, 2016, 04:22AM »

Oh, I am!

He knows I like playing ballads with accompaniment and encourages me. He coached me into becoming very familiar with a few to the extent that I can experiment playing them in different styles.

Currently, I am listening to recordings to identify what basic elements makes a trombone artist unique from others. So now I am trying to play a couple ballads kinda the way Carl Fontana, Ira Nepus or Harold Betters might play them. Naturally, I can't keep up with their technique when they are on a roll. But it's a heck of a lot of fun attempting to play the ballads with some basic elements I have identified from each style. So for example, when I play a ballad with a basic Carl Fontana style, I'll try to mimic his articulation, lip vibrato and try to find notes that you wouldn't think could sound nice, but do anyway.

...Geezer

Sounds like you are having fun. This is high level thinking. A good way to analyze trombone playing.
Good for you also to have found such an inspiring teacher

/Tom
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« Reply #101 on: Nov 03, 2016, 04:48PM »

I am also self-taught and all I do is watch videos of trombonists doing what they do for their daily warm-ups and I also apply to them and do so as followed.  I did had a Skype chat with Doug of mouthpiece advice and now I practice buzzing on the mouthpiece and also apply it to the horn and it has worked for me so far for my needs as a developing player. 

FWIW,

Ethan

   
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« Reply #102 on: Nov 03, 2016, 05:19PM »

Sounds like you are having fun. This is high level thinking. A good way to analyze trombone playing.
Good for you also to have found such an inspiring teacher

/Tom

It IS fun! I'm not very good at it, but that doesn't stop me. After all, I'm in the privacy of my own home in my basement music studio. So as long as my wife doesn't complain...

It's admittedly over my head at present. I can't sustain a player's style for very long on an unrehearsed ballad I pull out of Band-in-a-Box for practice. So I start out and go as far as I can, then switch over to another player's style and see how far I can go with that in a round-robin kinda way, with my limited ability. But it's not only fun, it's excellent ear training - the listening and then the application.

And for me, it's a double-punch. I'm not only practicing style imitation, I'm working on a certain amount of improv at the same time. So it really gets deep quickly. How would so-and-so improv on this piece. If someone knowledgeable heard me, they would probably laugh and say, "Well, that's really not how so-and-so would do it. But at least you're trying". 

I just finished a session this evening. I was a good boy. First I did my homework assignment my teacher has me on. Then I worked on some outside band material. Then I was free to have at whatever I wanted to do until my chops wore out.

I am also self-taught and all I do is watch videos of trombonists doing what they do for their daily warm-ups and I also apply to them and do so as followed.  I did had a Skype chat with Doug of mouthpiece advice and now I practice buzzing on the mouthpiece and also apply it to the horn and it has worked for me so far for my needs as a developing player. 

FWIW,

If you have the ability to self-teach, more power to you! I do - to a point. When I felt I had hit that point is when I found a terrific instructor. Now I can still self-teach and learn from my instructor as well. Progress is coming quickly.

...Geezer

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« Reply #103 on: Nov 04, 2016, 06:01AM »

Here's a really good example of style to imitate:

Carl Fontana plays "If I Only Had A Brain"

If we listen carefully and take mental style-point notes, probably a lot of us students could play in a style similar to his as he plays the melody through - at least the first time.

I didn't know I could even stand a chance at doing this kind of aping until my instructor inspired me. Listening plays a big role. I know it's been posted by various players - the need to listen well and often to other 'bone players. But it's one thing to see it in print and yet another to hear an inspiring instructor relate how he makes it a point to listen every single day. I now make time in the morning over a cup of coffee to listen.

...Geezer
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« Reply #104 on: Nov 22, 2016, 02:36PM »

Very interesting reading all this. I taught myself to play the banjo through tabs, visiting places like this dedicated ti the banjo, being obsessed and most importantly, playing for hiurs on end with other musicians, having fun.

I have only played trombone for 4 weeks now but plan to apply the same techniques and see what happens.  I can feel the obsession BUILDiNG!
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« Reply #105 on: Feb 19, 2017, 07:26PM »

I am a tuba player, retired from the Army.  I played some trombone in jazz groups while in the Army but only for about 3 years.  I am self taught on trombone mostly because of not being able to afford lessons when I first started on bone.  I have watched a lot and asked a lot of questions of other players which has helped me learn.  I am still learning trombone and recently have begun playing in a local big band.  If I were a younger player I would definitely seek out an instructor when possible.  I have appreciated reading all of these responses and hearing how everyone got their start in playing.  Its interesting to hear how we all arrive at the love of playing.   Thanks for sharing!
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Conn Victor 5H
Yamaha 354
Wessex Bass Trombone (King 7B style)
Wessex Tenor Trombone (.500)
Conn 15I Euphonium
Mack Brass TU200 BBb Tuba
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Location: PA
Joined: Feb 9, 2012
Posts: 5200
"Lego My Trombone"


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« Reply #106 on: Feb 19, 2017, 07:35PM »

I am a tuba player, retired from the Army.  I played some trombone in jazz groups while in the Army but only for about 3 years.  I am self taught on trombone mostly because of not being able to afford lessons when I first started on bone.  I have watched a lot and asked a lot of questions of other players which has helped me learn.  I am still learning trombone and recently have begun playing in a local big band.  If I were a younger player I would definitely seek out an instructor when possible.  I have appreciated reading all of these responses and hearing how everyone got their start in playing.  Its interesting to hear how we all arrive at the love of playing.   Thanks for sharing!

 Good!

One thing. I'm 68. About four months or so ago, I enlisted the aid of a private instructor - Bob Riddle - on this Forum. He's amazing and I wish I had started instruction with him years instead of months ago. It's never too late for older guys to do what younger people think nothing of doing.

Being self-taught is fantastic. But being part of a legacy of instruction going back about 100 years or so trumps it all. Can't beat that.

...Geezer
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