Who Can Teach Upstream Players?

posted in: Students | 0
I may be mistaken, but I think Clifford Brown was an upstream player.

I find it astonishing that modern music educators still do not know about upstream trumpet players. Have the institutions that prepared them for teaching not updated their pedagogy methods to make allowances for these students? This is not cutting edge information anymore. People have known about the upstream players for generations but the mainstream music educators do not seem to even acknowledge their existence.

The problem is that teachers today do not know what to do with the upstream students when they turn up in band. Instead of teaching the students in a way that allows them to develop naturally, the band directors literally force the students to conform to everything that comes natural to the downstream players. When the upstreamers have any sort of trouble on the horn, they blame it on the students for holding their horns wrong or using a wrong embouchure. It is a wonder any of them survive band for longer than a year.

I am just surprised by the grand scale ignorance. Why don’t they teach this stuff to the band directors?

I have a student who has an extreme upstream embouchure. He is more upstream than any student I have ever taught before and in fact more upstream than any pros that I know personally. I’m glad he’s a trooper because he has had so many instances when the educators have told him that his embouchure is completely wrong. I think they tend to be biased against him because he’s different. I get the impression that they think he has a bad attitude and just doesn’t want to do things their way. So playing in band during his junior high school years has been an uphill battle the entire way.

As a player he is more mature than the average student his age. He has a beautiful vibrato, a clean, pretty sound, an accurate sense of rhythm and a musical intelligence that convinces me he could go a long way with his playing. And he is doing well enough that his band directors have given him some wiggle room, enough room that he has been able to prove himself a few times over. But why should he have to do more to prove himself than the other students?

He is on a growing streak right now and I’m excited for him. I can’t wait to see how much he grows in the next few years. I just don’t understand why the band directors aren’t trained to recognize this kind of player.


If you are a high school trumpet player in the Houston area and you think you might be an upstream player, then you may want to consider signing up for lessons. I have a great deal of respect for band directors, but they don’t seem to know or understand how to teach upstream players. If you are interested in signing up for lessons, please use the form on the right side of this blog to send me a message. We have a variety of packages and pricing options.

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