Day 6: Retrospective (Ear training takes time)

I started matching the pitch of middle C and am slowly working my way up the treble clef. The race between the Turtle and the Hare is quite appropriate at this time. The interesting part of being human, is the urge to run when we can barely crawl. There is a lot of humility involved when learning to crawl.

I try to match the pitch with the mouthpiece. I use the trumpet to check my embouchure – that my facial muscles are set in the exact way I need to produce the middle C pitch. This activity provides hours of entertainment.

Remember: a growth mindset!

Day 5: Retrospective (Matching pitches with the keyboard)

I think many people prefer their comfort zones. It is humbling when I wander into new territory. I’m ignoring the inner critic that is saying something. All I know is I’m trying to match the pitch of middle C. Over and over and over.

This post would be extremely boring if I gave a blow-by-blow account of eradicating my tone agnostic brain training. I think I feel my brain cells growing. And I also played the trumpet today.

I’m keeping my front-sight focus on the assigned tasks. There will not be any Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reruns for a while.


Note: The term “front-sight focus” is from a book entitled Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed written by Mark Divine.

Day 4: Retrospective (Tone Agnostic)

My first private lesson of Trumpet boot camp!

I have had two previous lessons with Dr. Jonathan Martin in 2016 and 2017. Bootcamp will include weekly lessons. Dr. Martin (bio) has degrees from L.S.U., U.T.S.A., and the University of Iowa. He also spent four years with the United States Air Force “Band of the West.”

I brought along several of the standard method books as well several by Claude Gordon and Herbert L. Clarke. My problems are root problems and all of my assignments strike at the root. So no books needed at this time.

We quickly figured out I have no idea how to match a pitch or even tell if I was sharp or flat. Some would say this means I’m tone deaf. Later that evening I sat  at the keyboard for thirty minutes and began training my ear. So I consider my starting state to be “tone agnostic.” It was horrible and embarrassing, but there was nothing I could do during the lesson. An additional problem was holding my head and the horn at a high angle. But I have a growth mindset and feel that the tasks given to me are difficult but achievable.

As an aside: I’d like to address the possible abnormality found during my mammogram. It was this day, 5/18. that I decided if it was cancer and if the news is bad, that I would continue with my trumpet boot camp. If this was last thing I could do, I would spend my time playing the trumpet.

Day 3: Retrospective

From May 25: I received news from my doctor that a possible abnormality was found during my mammogram. I’ve since gone in for more pictures and an ultrasound. A biopsy has been scheduled June 4.

So I will add the intervening days with the title “Retrospective.”

Returning to Day 2, May 17. The three-card spread is to see the Past, Present, and Future. The Crystal Tarot deck is the source. The reading for Day 2’s tarot cards is:

  • King of Wands. This card “represents the past, and influences from the past that are affecting the current issue.”
    • I have been working on my comeback since January 2018 (playing since August 2016). “Don’t delay action once you have chosen your path.”
  • The Magician “expresses the energies around the present moment and the question in hand.”
    • “This is a time if magic and creativity in your life…You are ready to realize your full potential.” I’m taking a great leap. Stay focused and remain positive. Put in the work.
  • Queen of Pentacles “signifies the future outcome if you don’t change anything.”
    • She is the Queen of planning and executing. Remember balance – between loved ones and the work.

It looks like a lot of positive things are in store.

Thank you Cousin A for your helpful input.

Day 1: Getting Back on the Wagon

This is the first full day back on the wagon. I played the trumpet for six years as a child and teenager. I am a comeback player with two years under my belt, although I haven’t made much progress within the last year. I am setting my audition date for the third week of August. I will perform Petite Piece Concertante by Balay. A successful audition will allow me to become a music major.

There is a unique aspect to what I am trying to accomplish

  • I am 44 years old.

You may be asking why and how I fell off the wagon. It’s simple, the beautiful tone I hear in my head does not match the tone coming out of the bell. For many, many months I was trying to find a comfortable embouchure, but I was also changing my tonguing to the bottom teeth as specified by Claude Gordon. There was also a mouthpiece merry-go-round period which befalls many brass players. This brings us to the fact that I put the horn down.

So I read and executed Kenny Werner’s directions in his excellent book Effortless Mastery. I did pick up my horn and noodle around, then say to myself “That is the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.” I also used the four different meditations to help me relax when picking up the trumpet. But I did not continue with Claude Gordon’s book, nor Arbans, nor Clarke.

I decided to check on private lessons at my local state college that offers a two-year AA Music degree. The short story is I’m going to start working with a highly-regarded private teacher and in 91 days I have my one-shot audition. My private trumpet bootcamp.

After my audition, the department head will decide if I can be successful in the music program.

I am feeling nervous, scared, and excited at different times of the day. This blog is a way to capture my journey and perhaps someone will find something useful in my experience.

This is a list of useful books I’m using to achieve my goal: