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Q&A - Visualizing the tonal map on the trumpet

Hi David,

I have been practicing IFR for half a year and it's great how I am progressing! One of my obstacles is that I still imagine notes on a music staff instead of the tonal numbers. Is there any way to switch from one image to the other?

Looking forward to your answer and best regards from Austria,

David's response:

Hi Werner,

As a trumpet player, you will probably never entirely forget the names of the notes as you play them. This is perfectly normal. The trumpet isn't a visual instrument like the piano or the guitar that allows you to see musical relationships in a purely physical way. Every note that you play on your trumpet requires a specific combination of both fingering and embouchure, so there just isn't a good visual image that summarizes all of this into something that you can picture.

I play the trumpet myself and even though I am 100% focusing on the IFR tonal map as I play, I am also aware of the name of every single note I play. I think it's just a basic part of how we think about the notes on the trumpet, and it doesn't have to be a problem. The important thing is where you put your attention. It's fine to know that a particular note is F#. But it's even more important to know its tonal number (e.g. note 2) in the key in which you are playing.

Sing the Numbers 1: The IFR Tonal MapIf you're finding it difficult to cultivate this awareness of the tonal numbers, our audio course Sing the Numbers will greatly accelerate this process for you. Just five minutes per day of singing the numbers with this audio course will do more for your visualization skills than two hours of struggling to remember these numbers while you play.

So as a first step to improving this area of your music practice, I would suggest that you just spend a few minutes each day singing the numbers of one particular harmonic environment. This is really all you need to learn to associate the sounds of our musical system with their tonal numbers. If you just enjoy this simple daily practice for a few months, you will build such a strong relationship between each sound and its tonal number that I think you'll never again have any difficulty feeling where you are on the IFR tonal map.

And if you run into difficulties, please let me know and I'll be glad to help.

Happy singing Werner!