This article is all about finding a Trumpet teacher for private lessons.
Why Bother With Trumpet Lessons?
Have you ever noticed that some of the best players on a sports team happen to have a parent who’s coaching that team? I grew up playing and watching hockey and am old enough now that when I watch professional players I keep recognizing surnames of players whose fathers I watched a generation or two ago. I’m convinced that this isn’t because they somehow had “hockey in their blood”. It’s more about how they heard their “coaches” in their heads 24 hours a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner, in the car on the way to and from the rink, etc. etc. Anyway, no amount of online wisdom or helpful YouTube videos can substitute for private lessons on any instrument. Every player is unique and has particular needs, strengths and challenges. A good private teacher can: identify challenges and help you over or around obstacles to better playing; help you work towards solutions to problems; make you aware of imperfections you hadn’t noticed; and much more.
So, if having a private Trumpet teacher is a good idea, how does one go about finding one? If you’re a school-aged Trumpet player you might want to involve your parents in this process. They’ll want to make sure that you’re getting good instruction and that they’re getting good value for whatever is going to be paid for those lessons. They’ll probably also want to ensure your safety – that’s something parents often think about more than their kids do. Expect to pay for these lessons. There should be a substantial difference between what you’d pay the Grade 11 kid down the block and what you’d pay a professional musician.
How Private Trumpet Lesson Work
If you’re a little unsure of getting into a long term situation make that clear. Sometimes one lesson is enough to know when it isn’t going to work, sometimes that might only become clear after a few lessons, or a season of lessons. When you decide on who to ask for lessons with, see how they feel about that. Many private teachers will be busy enough that you’ll have to book into a specific weekly time slot. Teachers who are that busy will likely also ask you to pay for that slot for a given term – like 5 months. Some teachers are strict about that being your reserved slot and will offer no refund or make-up lesson if you miss one. That is the norm. If you look at it from their perspective it’s the only way to keep their income steady and their work hours consistent – reasonable goals for any working adult.
Getting Trumpet Lessons From Older Students
Younger school-age students looking for a Trumpet teacher might consider asking a good high school player for lessons. Ask your Band teacher if there’s a player in your school they’d recommend for this. You want this to be a capable player but also a reasonable, thoughtful person. If you’re going to give them your lunch money you at least want to be treated with respect and to get better as a player. You might be that person’s first student ever, so don’t expect them to know everything or to be as thorough as some of the folks below. It isn’t always the hot-shot lead Trumpet player in the high school Jazz Band who is the best suited to helping younger players – but it might be. Pay them better than they’d get for baby-sitting.
High school Trumpet players looking for a teacher might not be able to find a better player in their school that they feel is capable of giving them lessons. Ask your Band teacher if they know anyone they’d recommend. There are plenty of school Music teachers who are also Trumpet players. If your teacher isn’t one of them they might know one who is. This option is a little murky because not all Trumpet players are good teachers, just as not all teachers are good Trumpet players. You want both in one person. If you find a Trumpet playing school teacher who is willing to give lessons they will cost more than lunch money. You just upgraded from the drive-thru to a sit-down dinner.
If your town or city has a college or university with a Music School, Music Department or Music Education Department (subtle differences there) then you have a potentially deep pool of Trumpet players to choose from. Trumpet students like these are themselves receiving lessons from a Trumpet professor who probably has more Trumpet wisdom to share than you can imagine. Those students are connected to that source of knowledge and are probably in need of some extra income – perfect! Their professor might be willing to recommend one or two of their students. If not, and you can’t ask anyone, try putting up a notice at the school or on some fancy internet notice board. Some Music Schools allow their student to give lessons at the School, some don’t. Expect to pay enough for that student to take their best friend out to dinner at the pub.
Trumpet Lessons From Professional Players
A professor from the paragraph above might be interested in taking on a private student in addition to their other duties. You should be getting great instruction, and you should expect to pay even more. While this is “Option A”, be prepared for a teacher who means business and costs accordingly. Think Faculty club, not student pub.
Your community might be fortunate enough to have some kind of Music School or Music Academy that operates as a co-op. A building with a bunch of teaching rooms and an office that handles the money and so on. If it does, and they have a Trumpet teacher, that’s worth a look. There is a degree of comfort and perceived dependability in this setup, but you are still looking for a good teacher. Check into the reputation of the facility and the Trumpet teacher. Similar schools are often set up by music stores as an obviously synergistic enterprise. These operations can be really good – just remember that it’s the Trumpet teacher you’re interested in. In either case you’ll be paying for the teacher and the facility – so more.
Professional Trumpet players often supplement their income by giving lessons. Some of these players rarely perform but are really good teachers, and some of them often miss lessons because they have gigs all over the place. Remember that you want a really good teacher, not necessarily a really good performer. Having said that, if your Trumpet teacher isn’t also a good player it’s worth asking why (or why not). At some point most players run into challenges that take them off the stage either temporarily or permanently. There are players who are such good teachers that they just get too busy teaching to stay in shape. Sadly, there are also really good players who just can’t make a living playing so they give lessons as well. Some of these are good teachers, some aren’t. This option is a bit tricky because it’s perhaps the most volatile. You might find a great teacher here, you might not. Expect to pay as much as the professor.
Famous players and teachers are now able to give lessons over the internet and charge whatever they like. Some are doing it on their own through their social media and some through administrator companies that you’ll see advertising on your computer. These will likely be the most expensive. It is possible that they’re worth it.
Private Trumpet Lessons Over The Internet
Video lessons are better than no Trumpet lessons. If you live in an isolated area, or if there’s a worldwide pandemic (however unlikely) you might have to resort to online video lessons. There are plenty of things that a Trumpet teacher can see, hear and do on an audio/video call. So far I’ve tried FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and Teams and have found them all to be less than great at handling any sort of live audio. There are so many variables that right now you can only really count on the audio to be worse than being in the same room. You (and your teacher) can reduce the cringe factor by having great equipment (phone, computer, microphone, headphones, high speed service, router, etc) and getting the settings right on both ends. There are still enough challenges to make online lessons a second choice. Having said that, such lessons have been a lifeline for both students and teachers through 2020-2021. The meteoric rise of Zoom and the rate of improvements in technology suggest that the video lesson experience is only going to get better.
Last Thoughts About Private Trumpet Lessons
One more thing about finding a Trumpet teacher among professional players. This would be easier if there was only one kind of professional Trumpet player, and one professional Trumpet sound. There are classical players, jazz players, commercial players, Mariachi players, brass band players, brasshouse and more. Most good players concentrate in one area and cross over into others occasionally. Some do it all, but it’s not as common as you’d think. Given a choice, you probably want to study with someone you’d like to sound like. This is a gross generalization but for simple, straightforward trumpet fundamentals you’re probably best to head towards a classical or classically trained player. Many jazz players started that way and are glad they did.
BTW: If you want to be a jazz player, today is the day to start working on improvisation. That skill is central to jazz playing and not really a part of classical training. You might have to study Trumpet with one teacher and improvisation with another.
PS There’s the odd player out there who, like me, just doesn’t want to give private lessons There’s a lot of reasons but they don’t really need one. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but you do have to respect the “No”.