Weekly Tips 3/14/10

The Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome To Weekly Tips

If you’re looking to improve your range, endurance, tone, control, and over all ease of playing the sometimes brutal instrument known as “trumpet,” check out Chops Rehab Course.

For those of you that are finally ready to dive head first into improvisation, check out Sparky Thomason’s Beginning Jazz Improv Course.  Sparky walks you through step by step on the best way to ease into improvisation and start playing freely.

Here are your weekly tips!

Tip #1 – Last week we discussed breaking down complicated issues into its simplest form.  I want to stay on that same path, but actually define what relaxation, air energy, focus, tension in the upper register, and air speed really means…

Relaxation – This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch with your feet propped up eating bon-bons!  This is defined as taking a deep relaxed breath – starting to fill as low in your torso as possible, filling up to the point just before your shoulders want to start to raise. Also known as a “full body breath.”

Air Energy – This is in conjunction with the relaxation definition, but your power is stored within the your air.  Without a deep enough breath, you won’t have enough power or energy.  Relying more on your air and NOT on pinching the lips, you will find new found power.

Focus – This is geared toward your aperture… keeping in mind that your aperture is the small hole that we push the air into the horn from, many times we lose focus because of the direction we tend to “pull” our lips in when trying to play in the upper register.  By pulling your lips back further than what is required to create a buzz, (like saying UMMM) you will actually create more problems than what you’ll solve.  How is this?  When we say “UMMM” we are actually making the aperture long.  If you do the opposite and push the mouth corners more toward the center of the mouthpiece, it will maintain a “round” aperture form.  It also prevents the skin that actually vibrates from tensing up too much and quit.  Think about the feeling you get when you try to whistle…

Tension In The Upper Register – This again refers to the lips more than anything else.  By following the “focus” definition, you will curb multiple problems.  Many players have this idea that the tension builds in the throat, cutting off air flow.  Tension surfaces by tightening the lips… other than someone else putting their hands around your neck – or a rope – it’s tough to cut off your throat muscles to constrict the flow of air that dramatically!  Tension can also surface in raised shoulders which will affect your breathing.

Air Speed – Air speed is exactly what it sounds like… fast air / slow air.  But HOW do we create faster air and slower air?  This is where the delicate balance between your lips and your pushing air out lies.

By “holding” the aperture in the same small setting, and pushing harder on the air with the larger muscles in your gut, you create faster air.  The biggest problem for most players is that when they start pushing, they eventually blow the aperture wide open – creating MORE air… not fast air – OR they pinch the aperture closed (saying UMMM) and close off the air flow all together.

To slow the air speed down, we can relax the aperture and allow it open more as you back off pushing the air… this creates slower air.

Tip #2 – Remember that practicing requires patience.  I am probably the most guilty player that I know who is NOT patient when they practice.  If it’s not right within 10 minutes of trying (or so), I get irritated.  I believe that we create habits when we practice, and if we set positive habits that promote and support practice = improvement, we will continue to grow.  Practice the things you have difficulty doing… “practicing” material that you can already play is called a performance.  And if you have no audience or a paycheck at the end, you’re most likely wasting time.

“It is important to acknowledge a mistake instantly, correct it, and learn from it. That literally turns a failure into a success. Success is on the far side of failure.”

T.J. Watson
1874-1956, Founder if IBM

Have a GREAT week!