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Fact Resistance

May 13, 2016

Last week I was perusing my favorite trumpet related internet sites and came across a staggering statement.  I’m paraphrasing here, but what was written stated that all players that have great range, power, and endurance play small equipment.  The person posting went on to write that all of the people that claim to not be able to play small equipment can’t play with good tone, pitch, power, range, or endurance.  This was not just some anonymous person posting.  This is someone who moderates a forum.

So here’s the problem.  All of that is garbage.

There are successful players with amazing range, power, and endurance on all kinds of equipment.  That all people successful in this way play the same kind of equipment is a ridiculous contention.

The bigger problem is this:  People keep repeating silly statements like this with no regard for them being truthful.  When called out on making verifiably false statements, people will often dig in deeper, with such excuses as:

  • “…well, it’s true in MY experience…”- the copout
  • “…that’s what I heard from Teacher A or Player Z…”- the abdication of responsibility
  • “…your facts that disprove my statement are just exceptions..”- the refusal to accept truth

Why is This a Problem?  

Access to information is more easily accessible than at any time in history, but there is no built in truth filter.  When there is no filter, all information- true, false, misleading, outright lies- can be treated equally.  So what happens when people go looking for information?  They get bombarded with all kinds of information, and sometimes don’t know how to differentiate the facts from the garbage.

Too often, people that want to convince you that their way is the right (and sometimes only) way are the loudest voices, working hard to drown out any that disagree.  There seems to be an idea that if something is said loudly enough and often enough, it must be true.

People who know better are often unwilling to engage in the discussion.  Imagine a street corner that you walk past frequently.  Now imagine there is a person there who is screaming at the top of their lungs, “All great trumpet players are lefthanded!”  Most people, even knowing this to be false, would opt to ignore the rantings of a lunatic on the side of the street.  Now give that lunatic an internet connection.

I’ve read “serious” posts discussing why:

  • To be a great lead player, you need to be overweight (with listed examples of overweight lead players)
  • To be a great lead player, you need certain dental structure (with listed examples of lead players with said dental structure)
  • To be a great lead player, you have to be tall (with listed examples of tall lead players)

These are real examples of things that people actually believe.  Why?  Because it’s been said so often, so loudly, with so little opposition that it becomes accepted.

Imagine me saying:

  • To be a great trumpet soloist, you must be a European blonde woman.  It’s obvious!  Look at Alison Balsom and Tine Thing Helseth.

Although I believe Ms. Balsom and Ms. Helseth to be fantastic, I don’t believe where they were born, their hair color, or their gender have anything to do with why they play the trumpet so well.

It’s time to stop it.

How Do We Stop It?

We must be willing to engage in rational conversations with people with whom we disagree.  It’s interesting to me that with all of the information available to us, people seem to gravitate to what it easy, comfortable, and familiar.  It’s harder to learn if you’re not exposed to new and challenging information.

We must realize that words have meaning.  Choose your words wisely.

We must realize that opinions are not facts, and facts are not opinions.  Facts are verifiably true, whether you like them or not.

An Example

So let’s go back to the beginning of this post, with the idea put forward that all trumpet players with good range, power, endurance, tone, and pitch play small equipment.

First, beware of all encompassing statements.  All I need is one trumpet player to disprove this statement.  Hmmm……can I think of someone who has made a living as a lead trumpet player- playing in the bands of Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors, who doesn’t, and can’t, play on small equipment?  You know what- I can.  Me.  I won’t bother mentioning others, as if they want to enter the discussion on their own, they are more than welcome.  I’ve also been teaching for a while now, and have seen students succeed on all kinds of different equipment.

Now it will be easy for someone to say that they didn’t know anyone personally, or that’s just what they heard from someone else, or that I don’t really count because I’m an exception.

But now we all know the truth.  The truth is that the original idea was garbage.  No matter how loudly, forcefully, or often it was spoken- it was never true.

 

 

 

 

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7 comments

  1. I can’t read trumpet forums. The disinformation- “concert band trumpet rhetoric” is what I call it- is so pervasive. So, I figure I will combat it one student at a time, hoping that in 50 years we’re all a little more enlightened, assuming others are doing the same thing.

    There is only one answer to every question put forth on a forum that I’ve ever liked: find a great teacher near you and get some lessons. I understand it’s a bit simplistic but really, a serious student of trumpet has to find a way to rise above the noise and a good one-on-one, with someone who knows, is the way to do it.

    Good thoughts here, Joey!


  2. Great post! Thanks Joey!


  3. Sadly, a great number of people believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts. Most players believe a 3C is the perfect mouthpiece. Others believe it’s a 14A4a. You could go on and on about the “best” mouthpiece, trumpet, solo, genre, soloist, etc.

    Differentiating between what is subjective opinion and objective fact should be an obvious prerequisite to any serious conversation. Yet online forums throw out logic and propel outrageous myths in the place of common sense.

    I have worked with thousands of trumpet players from around the world. From my experience, every player has their own unique set of circumstances that determines their personal level of success. There are numerous approaches to trumpet playing incorporating a wide and creative range of techniques. But physics is physics. There must be a balance of factors present to achieve the desired results. There may be 1,456 ways to get there, but the balance of physical inputs must always be present.

    Nonsense like the “small equipment myth” is complete garbage, like you said. I play on a custom 5MM mouthpiece with a .267″ throat (43 drill sizes larger than a #26) and have no problem playing double high C’s and low G’s bigger and louder than a trombone on any brand trumpet.

    Thank you for another great blog entry. I appreciate your candid honesty and insistence that the trumpet community use their own reasoning skills!

    Jason


    • Excellent post Joey! You and Jason are right on.


  4. Expertly done. Just now starting my daily practice on my 1/12 B. Will switch later to custom rim with same throat/backbore. Miss you Joey.


  5. Great Article. What mouthpiece do you use for lead playing?


    • Mitch,
      I use a custom piece made for me by Karl Hammond. I went to Karl with 2 mouthpieces I liked, but wanted the best parts of both of them. He did such a good job on it, I still haven’t gotten it plated (as I don’t want to give it up for any amount of time). The mouthpiece could best be described as a tight 3C.

      Joey



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