Just about every article I’ve ever read about tone production on the trumpet had to do with the process of getting a better sound. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that there are far more obstacles than there are processes. Any article that focuses only on the process is missing a great majority of what is wrong with most students’ sounds. It is false logic to assume that a student has a bad sound simply because he or she is not following the process correctly.
I have written about my approach to teaching sound recently. What I didn’t mention was that, even though my approach to teaching sound is more of a natural approach, I contrast that with a vigorous search for any of the 1001 obstacles that can cause a person to have a bad sound. I consider the two to be entirely different topics. Producing a good sound is not the same thing as conquering a bad sound.
In your lessons, I am constantly on guard and vigilant in my search for problems that would prevent you from achieving your best and most natural sound (even though you may be doing everything correctly). The problem is that there are literally hundreds of different kinds of problems that could work against your sound, ranging from equipment problems to chapped lips.
I understand that this seems to contradict what I wrote in my recent article titled Teaching Trumpet Sound. That contradiction is only superficial. I like to think of the work we do on tone production as a journey that only you can determine where you are heading. But when it comes to the obstacles you will face, I’m right there with you to hack them with a machete to clear your path. Clearing that path doesn’t get you to your final sound destination. You still have to make that journey. But the voyage is a lot easier when you don’t have to fight your way through a jungle of disadvantages.
This is one of the biggest reasons why having a qualified, experienced teacher is so important. Most of the time, when I discover something with a student that has caused his tone quality to suffer, the student never knew that thing was a problem. If it weren’t for me pointing it out for them, these students would have gone on for months or even years before they figured it out themselves. Of course, a younger, less experienced teacher will not be able to recognize these issues as well. So it pays to study with someone who does have that experience.