Student: L. M.
Q: How can I learn to sight read rhythms better?
A: My high school band director had us practice simple rhythmic blocks almost every day. Practicing rhythms outside of musical pieces helps develop the pattern recognition skills that are essential to sight reading. There are many different ways to learn to sight read rhythms and melodies better, though. You can ask your music teachers for guidance in choosing one that will work best for you.
Student: C. E.
Q: When I play my cheeks always look like a chipmunk. How can I stop that?
A: Chances are that your cheeks look like a chipmunk because you're not directing your air through the aperture, the hole between your lips. When we play brass instruments, we need to blow air like we would when blowing out a candle. I've had some success with students with puffy cheeks by having them blow at a spot across the room every time they play. You can practice this off the instrument as well. You first blow at your hand, held half-an-arm's length from your face. Then blow (without buzzing) through just your mouthpiece in the same way. Next introduce buzzing an easy-to-play pitch to this blowing exercise, and finally, glissando up and down on the mouthpiece maintaining that focus. This should make things easier on your tuba.
Student: J. A. B.
Q: Are there ways to make practice time easy and more fun?
A: I love practicing, but sometimes it feels a little routine. I think it's important to set achievable but motivating goals for every practice session, whether they be perfecting a piece of music or improving an aspect of playing. I have the hardest time in the practice room when I feel like I have nothing I need to do. I try to make sure to establish my objectives before I even pick up my trumpet so I know why I am in the practice room.
Another thing that I think helps on days I can't focus is to practice more shorter sessions. If you have to practice 1/2 an hour a day, then sitting down for three 10-minute sessions could be helpful.
Student: I. A.
Q: How would a trumpet player increase hitting higher notes with ease?
A: That's a question that every trumpet player asks. Make sure that you're using good air and playing efficiently. Practice good playing habits every day. A great teacher who you work with on a regular basis will help you improve faster than anything I can tell you here.
Student: Z. R.
Q: How do I improve on playing louder, but make it sound good?
A: Just like the question about playing higher notes, practice good habits daily. A good teacher who you work with regularly will help you progress faster than you could without the teacher. As you learn to use your air more efficiently, you'll be able to play louder.
Student: R. C.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for learning and practicing multiple tonguing?
A: One of the first things I make students learning to multiple tongue do is just walk around practicing tonguing patterns, going tu-ku-tu-ku or tu-tu-ku for about 30 seconds every day before we even pick up a trumpet. The next step is to blow these patterns on your hand or a piece of paper and make sure the wind is moving forward the entire time. At this point, we start the simple tonguing exercises in the Arban book. Students start very slowly, making sure each note is long enough. Then they speed up, which is easier with the right air support. Like all aspects of trumpeting, you have to practice tonguing every day.
Student: R. T.
Instrument: French horn
Q: Do you have any suggestions on how to improve transposition?
A: Transposition is easier once you can play in any key, so make sure you know all your scales. I teach students who are transposing for the first time to play simple melodies in all twelve keys, both with and without music. Writing out transpositions helps many people who are learning the skill for the first time. Transposing is something you have to practice most days to make significant improvement.
Student: B. M.
Q: I am saving up to buy a professional trumpet and cost is a factor. What should I look for?
A: I think cost is almost always a factor. Used instruments can be just as good as or even better than new ones, so don't rule them out. There are a lot of bells and whistles on instruments. What is most important is to make sure you have a good instrument that can achieve a good sound in every register and dynamic. Also, you cannot assume that two b-flat trumpets, even if they're the same model, will play exactly the same. They may all be very good, but just like with cars, every now and then you find one that isn't quite up to the level of the others or one that is exceptionally better than similar ones. The best thing is to have your trumpet teacher or a professional try out an instrument and get his or her assessment before you buy it.
Student: M. D.
Q: When you feel stuck on something you're having trouble with, do you give it some time and come back to it later or do you pick it apart then and there until you perfect it?
A: Yes. I do both of those. I will work on something until it becomes frustrating, and in that moment, I know I need to put it down for a little while so I don't teach myself to get tense or stressed about playing something. I've found that even the most frustrating passages become easy with regular and patient practice.
Student: R. T.
Instrument: French horn
Q: Did you ever feel pressured to pursue a more (if you will) practical career? Describe what decisions you had to make before making music a career?
A: I did feel a lot of pressure to pursue a more practical career. I chose music because my teacher Bob Dorer, now of the Minnesota Orchestra, said that if I could be happy doing anything else in the world but be a professional musician, I should do that instead. He rightly pointed out that there are many more stable, more lucrative, and easier vocations. However, I get to play every day. I always look forward to work, and I love what I do. This was the right choice for me.
Student: R. T.
Instrument: French horn
Q: As a female musician, do you ever feel unequally treated as opposed to your male peers? As a female brass musician?
A: Growing up as a female trumpeter in New Mexico, there were certainly times I felt like my peers treated me differently than they treated each other. However, when you grow up, successful people have pretty-much figured out how to treat each other.
Amanda Pepping enjoys her multi-faceted career as a performer, arranger, educator, and co-editor of the International Trumpet Guild News section. She has given recitals and solo appearances throughout the United States, Europe, and most recently Thailand. She has performed with groups including the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado, the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony, , Bent Frequency, the New Trinity Baroque Orchestra, the Houston Bach Society, the Arizona Opera, and the Brass Band of Battle Creek, Michigan. She has been a featured soloist with various European ensembles, including the Hombeek Brass Band in Belgium, as well as groups here in the United States, including the Salt River Brass Band, UGA Wind Ensemble, and ASU Marimba Ensemble. She is the assistant professor of music at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Before moving to Georgia, Amanda taught Texas State University in San Marco and Texas Lutheran University in Seguin. In Arizona, Amanda was an adjunct professor at Mesa Community College and Phoenix College.
Amanda was a 2005-2006 Fulbright Fellow in Karlsruhe, Germany, studying the Baroque trumpet with world-renowned trumpet soloist, historian, and teacher Dr. Edward Tarr. Amanda received her doctorate from the University of Texas in Austin where she studied with Ray Sasaki and served as a teaching assistant to musicologist Dr. Lorenzo Candelaria. She holds her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Arizona State University where she studied with and was a teaching assistant to David Hickman, whose book Trumpet Pedagogy, which she edited, has sold over 4500 copies. She has also studied with German trumpet soloist Reinhold Friedrich, Emory Harvison of the Phoenix Symphony, and Robert Dorer and Douglas Carlsen of the Minnesota Orchestra. Several of her arrangments can be heard on her first solo album, Amanda, which is available through Summit Records. Amanda is a Sonaré artist.
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