Trumpet Job Numbers

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 12.14.03 AMFollowing up on my exploration of trumpet degrees versus jobs, I would like to clarify my reasons for pursuing this data.

From my comment reply from yesterday’s post:

There are two thoughts on college education: the first is that it is a pathway to greater knowledge and mastery; the second is that it is a precursor to better employment. Reading a Gallup pole blog, I quote: “No matter who you ask — whether it’s a representative sample of Americans, incoming college freshmen, or parents of 5th-12th graders — they say the most important reason for a degree beyond high school is to get a good job.” I think the economics of getting a degree (between $40K and $200K depending on what institution you choose) involve a financial risk, unless you somehow can independently afford your degree without concern for future employment. So . . . getting a job is, at the very least, in the back of students’, parents’ and teachers’ minds.
Of course, no one knows who will be successful in their chosen college career path, nor who will try a different path after college. Most will arrive at their place of success if not immediately, then after some wait, or after a long and winding road. All of that is good.
I want to reveal some of the discrepancies between music degrees and the job market as a “consumer” disclaimer so that everyone can make the best decisions. If nothing else, a trumpet student who more accurately understands the numbers, can get really motivated!!

Today I want to show some fairly accurate numbers on last year’s trumpet employment as listed on the ITG Employment Webpage (thanks to editor Dr. Jason Dovel for providing this break-down):

Job Type Total Jobs Tenured (continuing prospect of employment) Temporary Full time (visiting or 1 year appointment) Part-time
American Ochestra Jobs 10 6 4
Foreign Orchestra listed in ITG employment Page 3 3
Academic Non-jazz Positionis 21 16 2 3
Academic Jazz Positions 4 3 1
Military Trumpet Jobs 5 5
Other trumpet jobs 4 The breakdown of “other trumpet jobs” is not known
Assistantships 15
Total U.S. Jobs (not counting assistantships or foreign listings) 44 at least 33 at least 2 8


Obviously, there are many other employment opportunities than these listings. Many small performing groups do not get listed in the ITG Employment Page. Many part-time faculty jobs are unannounced, as well. There are a very few trumpeters who have unusual jobs that are never listed, such as studio trumpet jobs or Broadway musical jobs. Getting one of these jobs differs from the orchestra audition or academic interview process  (the exploration of which would make a good future blog entry). Nevertheless, most of the big jobs ARE listed on the ITG site. In addition to “positions” in the trumpet employment world, many trumpet players are fully self-employed and take a variety of ad hoc jobs.

This link will take you to an excellent breakdown from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Occupational Employment and Wages (May 2010) for Musicians and Singers.

It is interesting to me that, based on this page, there are currently 42,100 music jobs in the U.S. Now, what I want to know is how many trumpeters figure into that? Based on the HEADS survey of NASM institutions that I referred to yesterday, trumpet enrollment in the fall semester last year was 1,549 compared with a total music student enrollment of 116,351 in the same semester. That means that trumpeters in general represent 1.3% of the total music population (at least in academia). If we extrapolate that figure as it relates to the 42,100 music jobs in the U.S., we come up with about 560 trumpet jobs. The traditional figure used to calculate replacement needs is 8.7%. Thus, we can guess that there are about 49 new trumpet jobs each year.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 12.12.40 AMJust to recap my findings:

  1. We are teaching about 1,549 in higher education
  2. We confer about 369 trumpet degrees each year
  3. Women, blacks and hispanics are under-represented by a large factor (a third to a tenth less than the general population)
  4. If the trumpet students are trying to get a job in the real world, they are seeking to replace vacancies in the approximately 560 trumpet jobs that we have in the U.S. (this is about 49 as figured above)
  5. They are vying (along with former graduates who are still unemployed) for 44 listed job openings, 33 of which are full-time, 2 of which are temporary, and 8 are part-time
  6. The remaining 5 (49 total vacancies less the listed openings) “jobs” will be cobbled together from part-time positions and ad-hoc jobs.
  7. If every trumpet graduate this year wanted to get a job upon graduation, this would unfortunately result in unemployment for 320 of the 369 graduates, which correlates to about 87% trumpet unemployment. But, as mentioned before, the unemployed graduates remain in the job market for some time. This creates a much higher rate of unemployment.

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 12.14.40 AMWhat do we do with this information? Do we discourage people’s dreams? I do not advise this. Our dreams are sacred! However, I propose that this problem be tackled from different angles:

  1. Redirect trumpet students who really do not burn with a passion to play trumpet (I do not think this number is negligible)
  2. Use this information to motivate current students as much as possible
  3. Use this information to encourage students to study an alternate curriculum to maximize employability (while still pursuing trumpet studies)
  4. Re-focus on excellence in trumpet teaching for earlier ages (I believe that the magic trumpet “window” of learning is earlier than college)
  5. Encourage students to follow different paths in order to make their own unique trumpet jobs
  6. Encourage more diversity in trumpet programs of study
  7. Encourage teachers to develop their students in creative and personalized ways

What are your thoughts?


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Trumpet Degree Statistics in U.S. Music Institutions

Today, I was able to look at the latest Higher Education Arts Data Services (HEADS) Music Data Summaries 2011-2012. This survey is conducted for all of the National Association of  Schools of Music (NASM). There are about 636 public and private institutions who report statistical information to NASM.

When I posted my article, “Why Do We Grant So Many Trumpet Degrees?” on August 10, I made quite a few guesses about the numbers of there were and how many degrees were conferred each year. Now that I have some concrete statistics on higher education trumpet study, I’d like to share that with you.

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 12.13.28 AMNot all 636 NASM schools offer trumpet degrees. 18 offer Associate’s degrees; 269 offer Bachelor’s degrees; 131 offer Master’s degrees; and 47 offer Doctoral degrees. I was not able to find out the total number of institutions that offer some trumpet degree, but with a little common sense, I was able to make a good guess. Because most master’s degree programs offer bachelor’s degrees, and because most doctoral programs offer both the master’s and bachelor’s degrees, I assume that there are about 270 trumpet degree-granting institutions in the U. S–that reported statistics for the HEADS. The following chart shows the break down of trumpet majors in these institutions:

Trumpet Major Enrollment, All NASM Institutions
Degree level Number of Institutions with majors Summer enrollment Fall semester Degrees conferred
Associate 18 7 38 7
Bachelor’s 269 87 1066 213
Master’s 131 27 296 125
Doctorate 47 24 149 24
Totals about 270 145 1549 369

You might want to know the statistics of total music major enrollment at all 636 music institutions: summer enrollment was 16,676, fall semester enrollment was 116,351 and the total music degrees conferred were 22,721.


In addition, demographics of doctoral trumpet students were presented in the study:

  1. In 19 institutions that granted doctoral degrees (and reported to HEADS on demographics) this last year, there were 27 trumpet degrees given (this is slightly more than reported above because some institutions may not report all pertinent data). Of these 27 graduates, 1 (3.7%) was a black male, 1 (3.7%) was a Hispanic male, 23 (85%) were white, non-hispanic males, 1 (3.7%) was a white female and 1 (3.7%) was an Asian male.
  2. In 43 institutions reported on enrolling a total of 136 doctoral trumpet students (again this is slightly different that reported above because some institutions may not report all data), 4 (2.9%) were black males, 1 (0.7%) was a Pacific islander female, 5 (3.7%) were Hispanic males, 83 (61%) were white males, 17 (12.5%) were white females, 4 (2.9%) were Asian males, 2 (1.5%) were Asian females, 17 (12.5%) were “other/race unknown” males and 3 (2.2%) were “other/race unknown”females.

There were no American Indian or Alaskan Native trumpeters in doctoral programs. The following chart compares these demographics with U.S. demographics on race as a whole:

Enrolled Trumpet Doctoral Student Demographics Compared to U.S. General Population
Race/Ethnicity U.S. Population Percentage Doctoral Trumpet Enrollees Percentage
White/European American 72.4% 73.5%
Black/African American 12.6% 2.9%
Asian American 4.8% 14%
American Indian or Alaska Native 0.9% 0.0%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0.2% 0.7%
Hispanic 16.4% 3.7%
Some other race (or unknown in trumpet demographic study) 8.0% 2.2%

“I want to be able to do anything on the trumpet!”

I want to be able to do anything on the trumpet!” said my student to me in his lesson today. “I don’t want to be limited to the circle of fifths, or regular scales. I want to play whatever I think of.” Wow–that’s a tall order! This is a quest with no end, and he understood that. “I want to work toward this and be held accountable.” I liked that statement a lot, because he was getting a lot closer to solving his problem. In my opinion, my student also needed limitations on what he was going to work on, much like Stravinsky, who found it easier to compose when he had rules and limitations.

Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky

My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.

—–Igor StravinskyPoetics of Music


To be fully capable on the trumpet actually engages many skills. Working on all of these skills in the right priority will bring wonderful results. In order to accomplish this Herculean task, you have to be enthused, ambitious, and organized. I think my student was already enthused and ambitious. So we talked about the organization part.

Our main tool for organization is keeping a journal.  A journal should have “to dos” for each year, semester (or month), week and day. And it should have space for a “log” describing what we actually did every day, of course. In your log, keep track of what you played, how long you worked on it, how you tackled it, and how effective were the results. I keep my “to dos” and “logs” on my electronic devices (computer and phone synced by the “cloud”). But you may find it easier and more intuitive to keep all of this in a paper notebook.

Your goals, as a trumpeter, could include the following items to cover every week or month:

  1. Ear training (intervals, chords, melodic dictation)
  2. Long tones (for strength, for tone)
  3. Articulation exercises (single, double, triple, and others)
  4. Flexibility (sequential, “wiggly,” lip trills, skipping over harmonics, etc.)
  5. Scales (there are many types of scales and always twelve keys)
  6. Technical studies (there are so many types)
  7. Etudes (what is the focus of the etude?)
  8. Transposition (classical trumpet transposition, jazz work in all keys, clef reading, etc.)
  9. Excerpts or “licks” (orchestral, band, jazz)
  10. Solos or tunes (should be diverse in genres and chronologic eras)

But since we have only so much “lip time,” we should vary our routine from day to day, so that we get around to all of our skill goals. Keep in mind that some of these goals address multiple skills. For example, technical studies can include flexibility, articulation and scale-like passage work.

If my student’s practice journal is simple it will be easily become a daily habit. If it becomes a daily habit it will prove to be effective. If effective, then he will be able to play anything on the trumpet! Okay, almost anything. 

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Five Myths of Trumpet Practice

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 12.09.08 AM1. Because practice is boring, it must be bad. We like action and danger. But when we do repetitive actions that seem to be going nowhere–like practicing–we often feel “bored.” What is boredom? It really is an emotion which tells us that we’re not satisfying some desire for adventure. We generally do not like boredom. However, did you know that the brain’s neural activity does not decrease during boredom? It actually increases in some functions. Psychologists have found boredom to be an important source of creativity, well-being and our very sense of self. During this state, we notice things we may have overlooked, and we take action on things that we otherwise would have put off. So, for trumpeters, if we can stop panicking when we’re bored and start enjoying the increase in creativity and problem solving. To hopefully take advantage of your opened mind, have a notebook ready to write down brainstorms, or have a voice memo recorder to record your thoughts and melodies. This can lead to some great self-discoveries.




2.  But practice IS boring. The other element to myth number one, above, is that practice is always boring. Yes, we endlessly repeat motor skill activities to get better, and endless repetition seems to bring on boredom. The most important part of de-bunking this myth is that we can practice in ways that aren’t endlessly repetitive. Mini-breaks, lots of varied stratagems, creative problem solving, and engaging the ear all help to shake up you practice routine. Use different locations (church, school, gym, and even the outside can be good, if it’s not bothering anyone).

3. “Practicing” means to play through my piece from top to bottom. If I mess up, I should go back to the beginning, because I want the piece to sound just right from beginning to end. There are actually two myths rolled into one here. The first myth is that we have only one strategy to get better: repeating the whole piece. Actually there a many methods:

    1. Isolation (basically, you’re choosing smaller chunks of music–all the better to digest them, my dear.)
    2. Transposition (play it in other keys–how about all the keys?  This also works in conjunction with practicing a piece on different keyed trumpets, but transposing the trumpets so that the resulting notes sound the same from one trumpet to the other.)
    3. Change up the rhythms (if the passage has continuous sixteenth notes, the change the rhythm to dotted sixteenth and thirty-seconds, for example)
    4. Sing the piece while listening to a recording or playing it at the keyboard, hopefully at the correct concert pitch. See how infrequently you need to check your notes while you try to stay on pitch.IMG_3943
    5. Play the melody on the mouthpiece–same as singing.
    6. Practice “backwards” (start at the last phrase and play it, say, four times in a row; then back up and play the preceding phrase four in a row; now put the two together, three in a row; the back up and play next preceding phrase in the same way and continue to include the already-practiced phrases after mastering each subsequent preceding phrase). This will give you an incredible confidence as you get closer to finishing the piece.
    7. Use reality checks: metronome, tuner and recording device.
    8. During your micro-breaks, listen to a recording of someone else playing your repertory or some other recording that inspires you.

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 12.23.46 AM4. Practice makes perfect. The other thing that I find fault with number three above is the idea of “perfectionism.” Perfectionism, while seeming to be a noble goal, is actually not that good for trumpeters. More than most instrumentalists, we miss notes, and we need to get on with life. By becoming fixated on our weaknesses, we never let our spontaneous self naturally blossom.

5. If practicing makes me better, then MORE practice will make me ever better. The error here is that there is a limit to practice, especially the physical aspects of practice. Practice is a lot like a great paint job on a fine automobile. Instead of one sloppy, think coat, it’s far better to paint many thin coats to avoid runs and smears. When we practice too much, we start to get sloppy, and then we get used to being sloppy. I like to think of weekly practice goals, so that each day can be a little different.

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My Top Ten List of Classical Trumpet Soloists Living Today

I wanted to pay tribute to the trumpeters whose solo talents open our ears and heart with their playing. They are perhaps the ones who work the hardest to raise the reputation of this instrument from its military beginnings to become as equal as possible with violinists, pianists and singers who concertize internationally. This list is for classical trumpet soloists who are still alive and playing today.

The Amazing French Trumpeter, David Guerrier

The Amazing French Trumpeter, David Guerrier


1. David Guerrier, French trumpeter AND hornist. Incredibly versatile (trumpet, horn, and baroque trumpet, keyed trumpet, natural horn), I once heard from Niklas Eklund that he hardly is known to practice! While this surely can’t be true, he is definitely naturally talented. This is a video of David playing the Arban “Carnival of Venice” on an antique cornet. In the same concert, he also plays keyed trumpet and hand horn!!



2. Håkan Hardenberger, Swedish sensation of the 1990’s, he still plays quite a bit. Håkan has played a wide variety of repertoire, including avant-garde music, and has recorded dozens of albums.

Here’s a nice documentary about Håkan from 1992. 48 minutes long, it has some nice audio in between the talking:



English Trumpeter, Alison Balsom

English Trumpeter, Alison Balsom



3. Alison Balsom is one of my favorite soloists today because of her obvious authenticity when it comes to baroque music. From England, she has recorded numerous albums and has even devised a theatrical work where she plays trumpet on stage! Here she is talking about a period instrument recording project:



4. Philip Smith–I know, he’s an orchestral trumpeter, but he solos so frequently and he has recorded so often, and, most importantly, he sounds so amazingly when he solos, that I have to include him on this list! Here he is playing the music that he obviously loves so much. That sound is heavenly.



Boston University Professor of Trumpet, Terry Everson

Boston University Professor of Trumpet, Terry Everson


6. Terry Everson, here’s a thinking man’s trumpeter who also can really “sing” on the instrument. Check him out on this very difficult sonata by Jan Krzywicki.





7. Jens Lindemann, multiple-prizerwinner, chamber musician and soloist from Canada. Here he is doing what he does best:


8. Tine Thing Helseth–Norwegian trumpeter, Tine has recorded numerous albums. Here’s a performance with an all-women orchestra in Norway.


Ryan Anthony, Principal Trumpet of the Dallas Symphony

Ryan Anthony, Principal Trumpet of the Dallas Symphony


9. Ryan Anthony, one the most naturally gifted trumpeters I know, Ryan has spent a lot of time in quintets (like the Center City Brass Quintet and the Canadian Brass Quintet), but he is an amazing soloist. Here he is at Lindenwood Christian Church performing with organist Gary Beard. No complete takes here, but you can get the idea. He’s a virtuoso!




10. Matthias Höfs, is one of my favorite German trumpet players (and I have many!).  I thought I would offer up this “Spanish Christmas” video with his strange two-bell trumpet (one for mute). He has played with the German Brass since 1985. His piccolo playing is also amazing.

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