I often hear trumpet players ask one another, "how is the response on that horn?" when discussing equipment. I've asked thousands of musicians what this question means to them, and the responses are quite varied. In my experience working with clients, vocabulary used to describe the playability and sound of brass instruments is fairly limited and often vague. A term that one player defines as clean, articulate, and crisp, another will player will describe as sharp, abrupt, and crass. It seems we spend a lot of time saying things that we have not taken the time to fully define and understand.
The word response is one of the most misunderstood terms used by brass players. One of the most common types of phrases I've heard is, "I can't play heavy horns because they are not responsive". Another, "that lightweight horn is unbelievably responsive." Technically speaking from a physics standpoint, both of these statements cannot be true when using the true definition of the word response or responsive. In fact, the opposite is true in both statements. So why do trumpet players so often say these kinds of things?
The answer is primarily found in their first-hand experience behind the bell of the trumpet, rather than from the perspective of the listener on the other side of the bell. Many trumpet players have worked very hard to achieve results on a relatively difficult instrument, which tends to make them believe they are experts at their craft. But being great at playing an instrument does not necessarily mean you understand how it works or what is happening in terms of projection, tone quality, and overall results at the back of the club, hall, or auditorium. Listening on a higher level requires more than hearing what is happening behind the bell. Your audience is not sitting next to you, they are in front of you. And the instrument was specifically designed to project your creative sounds in their direction, not yours.
To save your eyes reading on a computer screen, I've explored the words response and projection in this video while explaining how our B.R.A.S.S. components help achieve the results demanding trumpet playing requires.