Why fundamentals?

When I was young, I took piano lessons. Except for the rare moments of playing scales, my assignments and practice were devoted to learning a progressively series of literature. Most adult pianists don’t play a lot of technical exercises, either. I wish that the trumpeter could survive only on literature, but this does not work.

First of all, there isn’t as much literature for trumpet, so the growth of a young trumpeter is not typically based on masterpieces. You simply cannot compare the easy keyboard pieces of Bach, Haydn, and Mozart with Arban, Clarke and Getchell. There are many transcriptions of these pieces for young trumpeters, but they are not part of a “canon” of pieces that we learn.

Secondly, the piano makes a great tone right away for a beginning piano student (if the instrument is cared for by a technician). This is not the case for the trumpet. The embouchure and airflow for the trumpet must be deliberately strengthened and practiced to sound moderately good, and it usually takes a few years to get noticeable results.

Oh, and the need to focus on maintaining the embouchure never goes away for most trumpeters. I am aware of only a handful of trumpeters who really don’t need to do fundamentals. But I will say that these individuals, when they do work on their fundamentals, sound even more amazing.

Practicing fundamentals is part of the trumpeter’s lifestyle. They help us to grow as young trumpeters, and they help us to maintain our abilities when older. We play fundamentals so that we sound good and are able to play our literature well.

Over the next many days, I will explore fundamentals in more depth.

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