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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(Physical CD’s Available HERE)
Tip #1 – Let Your AIR Do the Work!
I’ve heard this for years, and for a GREAT number of those years, I never really had a firm understanding of exactly “how” to make the air work. The concept is pretty simple – blow harder, right? WRONG! It’s not about “blowing harder,” it’s about speeding up the air to make the notes go higher.
One of the problems that we’ll address this week is what most of us actually do to speed up the air… then we’ll get to the good stuff more next week. But – this is important! The one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t fix something permanently without being able to identify the root of the problem. Fix a leak sometime… you can replace all sorts of things until you find an actual leak. What’s leaking? Where? What part needs to be replaced to actually get the leak to seal?
What most players learn to do pretty early on is a combination of a couple of things… we’ve all heard about too much mouthpiece pressure, but that’s not the entire problem. I didn’t have a huge issue with mouthpiece pressure, but I did with pinching my lips closed. Like pursing your lips to draw in spaghetti, it requires muscle from the lips to do this, and that is a VERY fatiguing action over the course of playing a set or a show.
In reality, pressing the mouthpiece harder to your lips, and / or tightening up the lips (the aperture area) does exactly what we need to have happen – it speeds up the airstream to get higher pitches. BUT – this causes fatigue, pain, swelling, and a loss of sound, control, reliability… all for the sake of trying to speed up the air. So we are not actually “using” the air – we’re using the lips… and the harder you blow, the more head-rushes, and strain you receive. Blowing harder only causes more issues.
Tip #2 – Be the Best that YOU Can Be!
I’ve written about this before, and I wanted to address it again as I think it’s important to understand who your competition should be… you should NEVER compete with anyone other than yourself for “who’s” better than who.
I drove myself into the ground always looking over my shoulder and worrying about “who’s better than I am.” The fact of the matter is – it doesn’t really matter! Music is NOT supposed to be a sport or a competition… rather, it’s a form of communication that evokes emotion in people at the most carnal level. Being a better musician means that you are willing to work daily at practicing your craft. When you hear someone play that makes you stop in your tracks, that should be rejoiced! You’re hearing the product of YEARS of hard work, labor, and intense practice! Face it folks, we chose a real booger of an instrument! No one wins all the time! Just ask any trumpet great…
So bottom line – practice to be better than you were yesterday… strive for control, deep understanding, and by all means – MAKE MUSIC!
“There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there’s only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind to be happy there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a fairly good time.”
1862-1937, Pulitzer Prize Winning Novelist
Have a GREAT week!