Weekly Trumpet Tips 9/25/12

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

Please always feel free to respond / comment on any of the tips listed in these weekly posts. Your input may help clarify details for someone else!

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Here are your weekly tips:

Tip #1 – Push Yourself To An Uncomfortable Place!

Comfortable and familiar is a great place for a vacation, but NOT an ideal place for us to try and improve or grow!  For us to really grow quickly, we have to be willing to put ourselves in unfamiliar or “scary” territory… now keep in mind, I’m not talking about taking a stroll at 2 in the morning through the roughest part of town with nothing more than a smile on your face – we’re talking musical growth!

Here’s some “what if’s?” for you… What if, instead of playing 3rd or 4th parts, you ask to play lead or solo (2nd book sometimes) on a couple of tunes?  If you’re in a jazz group… What if you’re not in a jazz group, why not ask to “sit in” on a rehearsal and learn that style of playing?  What if – instead of playing lead, you ask to play the solo part?

There are MANY ways we can really put ourselves out there (so to speak) in uncomfortable situations that will truly stimulate growth if you allow it.  Studying different styles of music can REALLY improve ones reading, feel, time, endurance, etc.  Because when you’re on the spot or the new guy in a group, it can be nerve wracking!

To become the player that we hear and want to be, we have to be willing to throw ourselves out into the lake and force the inner fighter to come out and swim back to shore.  The more times you step outside your comfort zone, the bigger your zone becomes!  Just remember, no one ever achieved their dreams by staying on the porch swing wishing!

Tip #2 – An Infestation of BAD Advice!

Bad advice being put into practice creates HUGE problems for players… I see this a lot here in Austin.  There are some band directors in the area that are demanding that ALL trumpet students be on a 1 1/2 C mouthpiece.  In my estimation, that’s like a high school track coach telling his entire team that EVERYONE must now run in size 13 shoes… while it will work for a very select few, it won’t work for 99%!  Playing on a 1 1/2 C hard and loud will only cause bad habits to form that will damage a player in the future.  And this is just ONE example!

Bad advice caused me a TON of hardship and actually spurred my to quitting for 3 years…

Here’s a list of some of those things…

1) Play larger mouthpieces!  Anything small or shallow is cheating.

2) Open your teeth for the best sound

3) Stop closing your throat!

4) A large bore horn will be tough to play for a long period of time

5) Tighten up your lips as you ascend…

6) There really IS an Easter Bunny!

When we close our minds off to other possibilities, we’re shutting off our growth.  For YEARS I struggled needlessly.  So much that I stunted my own growth because I was determined to “figure out” how to achieve the range, endurance, and sound that I heard in my head.  This caused other problems because I never worked on anything outside of range… so it was a horrific snowball ride down-hill!

I see this a lot in other players that I’ve helped!  They come in with someone else’s “theories” and are typically not willing (initially) to experiment outside a very small box they’ve been pigeon-holed into.

If you’re struggling with your playing right now, DO NOT feel alone!  While bad advice leads to habits that need to be broken / corrected, it’s not impossible to overcome.  If it were, the world would be void of the Maynard Ferguson’s, Arturo Sandoval’s, & Bill Chase’s!

“We are all here for some special reason. Stop being a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future.”

Robin Sharma
Author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari  

Have a GREAT week!