After you decide to play the baroque trumpet, it’s easy to go into panic mode. “How can I possibly play this bizarre instrument?” The three big things you need to consider are organization, fundamental practice on your historic instrument, and specific preparation for the piece(s) you want to perform. That last step is pretty obvious, but the first two are critical to getting you there.
Being well-organized means that you have some general knowledge, you have well-conceived goals, and that you plan in order to achieve those goals. Before doing anything else, please read Elisa Koehler’s excellent article, “A Beginner’s Guide to the Baroque Natural Trumpet” (ITG Journal, 2002). Her article provides a wealth of information vital to the baroque trumpet beginner.
What do you know about the literature for your instrument? You can find out about some nice baroque trumpet solo and chamber music (and modern trumpet repertoire, too!) on my page How to Practice: click the link “Trumpet Repertoire All Years.” Scroll down the PDF document about half-way until you get to the section which begins with “College Upperclass (and Graduate).” About a few paragraphs below that is the section, Original Pieces for Baroque trumpet. You might also want to acquire some method book. Ed Tarr’s Art of Baroque Trumpet Playing, Vols. 1-3 are perfect to get started.
Have you been listening to recordings of the baroque trumpet played well? One place to start is with the Online Natural Trumpet Discography compiled by David Baum. You can still find many of these recordings, but, of course, many have been discontinued. Also, of course, listen to live performances.
Also important at first, you have to get an instrument to play. I recommend to all players the Natural Trumpet Making Workshop in Bloomington for this year. The workshop is a week-long, hands on seminar where you learn to make a natural trumpet in the way the Nuremberg masters did it 400 years ago, and, of course, you walk out with an instrument at a fraction of the cost you would pay if you were buying a new instrument made by someone else.
Also important is a good mouthpiece. For this, I recommend corresponding with Barry Bauguess, the owner of The Baroque Trumpet Shop. The main advice I have is to not get too worried about a mouthpiece that feels just like your modern trumpet mouthpiece. Just dive in and play a real baroque trumpet mouthpiece.
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