The importance of the 2nd trumpet player 

 septiembre 12, 2010

By  Luis Aquino

Most trumpet players want to be or become a Lead trumpet player.  There even are situations where two players arrive to a gig and both want to grab the Lead book.  You can see them almost arguing over that.  That’s nonsense!  Funny that in this case, the guy who doesn’t get to play the Lead book can make life absolutely miserable to the guy who «won» the Lead book this time.

Hence, the 2nd trumpet player’s importance.   The attitude and aptitude of the 2nd trumpet player can make or break the Lead trumpet player’s work and that’s why that chair is one of the least understood and probably, the most underestimated of the section.

My favorite chair to play is the 2nd trumpet chair, really.  But for that, I absolutely need a consistent and accurate Lead trumpet player.  Otherwise, I’ll never know where to release my notes or where to step on the gas to help him or where to let go to let him «sing».

If I’m playing Lead, I expect my 2nd trumpet player to be on the lookout for my life (my chops) and help me when I need him to be there for me.  I need him to follow my releases, my breaths, my vibratos (sometimes), the length of my drops and MOST importantly, I expect him to NEVER overpower me.  I can play pretty loud, but many times I choose to play with a quality, projecting tone, strong enough to be heard by the whole band, assuming they are really listening (which is a different topic).

There are many aspects to this and I only wanted to open the door for a discussion on the topic.  We all need and want to play in a great, balanced trumpet section.  That’s not always attainable because of the lack of knowledge and the abundance of some Super Egos out there.  That said, it is possible to sound awesome as a section no matter who is playing with whom.

The second trumpet player is a very valuable asset.  Treat him well.  He can kill you, he he.

Luis Aquino

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Luis Aquino es uno de los trompetistas más influyentes de Latino America.
Le encanta pensar, leer, escribir, practicar trompeta y tocar con músicos de excelencia.

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  1. Good stuff Luis – I couldn’t agree with you more. I would like to add as a trombonist, I believe your thesis applies to every section of the band.

  2. The Lead part has a very importance part but the 2nd part is just as importance as the lead part they both have to be on the same SHEET OF Music, never over blow your lead part make him or her look good always follow
    the lead part….please read this below….

    The Commandments
    7 Commandments of The Trumpet were passed down from the heavens by Moses just before he received the 10 Commandments. He, being a weak, idiot saxophone player (redundant statement), decided that seventeen commandments were just too heavy to carry down the mountain. Later on he sent up his brother, Leibz, to bring the rest down. And they are:

    1. Maynard Ferguson is thy god. Thou shalt not have any other god besides him.

    2. Whatever goes upon three valves and/or slide is a friend so long as it bears the name trumpet

    3. Honor thy superior trumpet demi-gods (unless of course, however unlikely, you become a trumpet-god yourself)

    4. Thou shalt not attempt to out-do another trumpet, unless in competition (to trumpets, everything is a competition).

    5. No trumpet player shall obey, listen to, and/or heed the outcries of other instruments because tis thy job to oppress them at all times

    6. Thou shalt tell the 1st trumpets they suck until thou recievest the coveted chair of 1st

    7. Woodwinds are a waste of wood, abuse them. In addition thou shalt take all other brass as thy footstool

    8. Thy official animal shalt be the trumpetfish–thou shalt not deface it in anyway, shape or form, without first signing a waiver

    9. When thou fellow trumpet receivests a new trumpet, thou shalt not covet it unless you have a way to obtain it*

    10. Thou shalt not question the counting skills of other trumpets be it when to enter or other such countings

    Where historians disagree. Some people think that the 8th commandment was sneakily added in by a flute. Others believe that it was none other than Arturo Sandoval. Still, the most popular opinion is that Miles Davis, jealous from not being chosen as thy god, flew down from the heavens and imprinted it with his mouthpiece while Ferguson was not looking.

  3. Admittedly, I WAS one of those lead trumpet guys that would show up trying to grab the lead book. All through college and the early stages of my professional career, I only wanted to play first. NOW, I have discovered the true JOY of playing second trumpet when standing next to a competent lead player (most recently Elton Reyes of Ocala). Having played first trumpet in Salsa groups in the Orlando area since the mid 80’s, I have almost always been asked to play first trumpet. During that time, to my dismay, many of the band leaders didn’t seem to care very much about the quality of the second trumpet player. I always wondered why I had to work so hard to play accurately while the second trumpet player could literally shit all over the parts…and get paid the same!! More often than not, they would be more concerned about where they could take the 2nd part up an octave.

    Now that I’m primarily playing second trumpet, I have learned how enjoyable it really is. I get so much joy from playing in-tune and really nailing the phrasing and releases with the lead player! In my opinion, having the experience of playing first trumpet for so many years gives one an enlightened perspective on the importance of playing the second part as well as possible. Ironically, I think I’m even more precise than when I was playing first. One of the unique benefits of playing second with great lead trumpet players is that you learn the nuances of their individual style. I get more pleasure from a lead trumpet player telling me that «it was great to play with you» than killing a high G at the end of a difficult tune.

    Thanks for starting this discussion Luis! I hope to get the opportunity to perform with you some day! But…you’re playing first!! LOL We know many of the same trumpet players in Florida, but we have never crossed paths.

    Best wishes!! :)

  4. @Don-I sure hope we get to meet soon. If we play together I guess I will have to play first, but I sure will love to hear you on Lead for a couple of tunes, he he.
    Thanks for posting!

  5. Hey, thanks for this post. I’m about to audition for a 2nd trumpet position simply because I’m more of a team player than a lead player.

  6. My trumpet teacher always told me that it is harder to play 2nd. than to play lead because the 2nd. player’s job is to make the lead player look good.

  7. I play second trumpet to somebody who’s been learning the same amount of time as me. I was pretty annoyed, but what you wrote about second trumpet is really interesting.

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