Weekly Trumpet Tips 10/27/15

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1) Concentration / Attention Span

(2) Equipment Junky!

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Tip #1 – Concentration / Attention Span

I had a unique and interesting discovery that made me think “JUST LIKE ME” yesterday with a student that is a freshman in high school.  We were working on one of his region audition pieces which he was completely “guessing” at when it came to rhythm and timing.  I have not hidden the fact that rhythm and time were a very weak aspect of my playing when I was younger and I basically had to force myself to go into the practice room and improve that part… in other words – learn how to count!  As basic and as rudimentary as that sounds, it was something that I was not taught as a young student.

So this lesson yesterday brought a flood of memories coming back from my youth!  So what I did was slow things down to where we could feel the subdivision easily (it was in 3/8 time).  It was a tie between a whole note (dotted quarter note) and the first eighth note in the next bar that was causing the issue.  We isolated the first 3 bars… and consistently each pass was being played inaccurately.  This is when I noticed that even with a comprehensible explanation that was getting through, my student would stop counting the second he started playing.

That’s when it hit me… he had never developed the skill of continued concentration concerning timing and rhythm while playing.  Musicians have to develop a unique ability to multi-task… play their instruments, count as well as add in all of the information that’s being laid out in front of them – things such as correct notes, correct rhythmic interpretation, dynamics, articulations, etc.  This all happens in a matter of milliseconds.

So while some students may exhibit an inability to count, it could really be an underlying problem of not continuing to count while playing.  Focus and concentration… it turns out that what he was doing was going into an “auto-pilot” mode of playing and “thinking” about how tired he was, his impending exam later in the day, etc.

I suffered from the same problem… and when I don’t stay focussed, I’m sure to make a mistake!

Tip #2 – Equipment Junky!

Hi, My name is Keith and I am an Equipment Junky!  Cases, mouthpieces, horns, stands, gadgets, etc.!  The good news is – most musicians (in general) are!  How many gigs have you gone to and the guitar player only shows up with one guitar??  There are only a handful of gigs that I can recount that this has happened…

I think to some degree, we just love “options!”  My mouthpiece folly has more to do with tonality these days than anything else… it used to be this endless toil in search of range – sacrificing tone was never on my radar.  Same goes for horns as well (these days)… when I add a new horn to the “family,” it’s largely because I’m either collecting (classic MF Horn) or because I’m looking for a “tonality” (once again).

I think we should embrace our equipment geek side and just have fun!  Music is a language and a communication.  Think back to being a kid and how much fun it was to suck in helium and talk like a chipmunk!  But as a close friend of mine put it, having an “accountabilla-buddy” is a good thing as well.  Someone that can talk you down from the ledge… ya don’t want to sell the farm for the latest gadget that will end up in the closet unused.

Anyway – if you’re a geek like I am, check out the latest Austin Winds stuff… Doug is doing some AMAZING things with horns and is just as much of an equipment geek as you and I are!

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

– Charles Darwin – 1809-1882, Naturalist and Geologist

Have a GREAT week!