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Check out About Face HERE!!! Check out Secrets to Efficient Brass Playing HERE!!! A NEW Week 1 & 2 for the Jazz Improv course has been added… subscribers, please visit the course page to see this new addition. A new week 3 & 4 will soon be posted as well… These courses are designed to be 4 weeks worth of lessons to help the student gain insights and skills in each specific area. Keith is available for clinics and as a guest artist!! Please go to our “Clinics” page for details!
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(Physical CD’s Available HERE)
Tip #1 – Working The Chops In Different Ways
For the last several weeks I’ve done more lead playing than I have solo / small group work and upon playing with my quintet yesterday noticed that I was feeling tired 3 songs in. This brings me to my first tip for you this week – work the chops in different ways. When we think of building range and endurance, we tend to have a one track “high note” mindset. But – by working the chops in different ways (other than just playing high notes), you’ll strengthen things up in different ways.
I realized that it requires a different level of strength to do small group playing vs. lead playing. But both skill sets will hand in hand help each other if we approach them intelligently and allow for rest / rebuild time. Here’s my theory –
Most trumpet “parts” in a band setting require us to play for short amounts of time, and then allows us to rest. Whether it be 2 bars or 48 bars, we’re still resting to some degree. Most of our playing can be measured in seconds… an average 16 bar phrase may last 10 seconds, or could last 30 seconds… think about it. Depending on whether it’s an up tempo tune or a ballad, the amount of time we play is relatively short.
In a small group setting, we play the melody – not just parts of the melody, but the whole thing (usually). Then we have solos… if you take 2 choruses of Donna Lee, that’s 64 bars of playing – which would equate out to roughly a minute or more.
Doesn’t sound like much on either side does it? This is where you need to stay with me! Think about it – if we’re “conditioned” to play for 30 seconds or less, playing for 1 minute or more is going to fatigue the muscles pretty darn quick. Think about a runner… someone who only runs a mile suddenly having to run for 2 miles or more is going to start feeling the affects of fatigue in that second mile – and if they continue into a 3rd or 4th mile, they’ll be feeling it!
As trumpet players, we’re dealing with VERY small facial muscles (check out “About Face” and read about muscles) which aren’t designed at the factory to have any large amounts of endurance.
This has helped me tremendously… I’m sure it will you as well!
Tip #2 – Amateurs Compete / Professionals Create!
This is something that read recently and really hit home for me! As a younger player, I learned to be competitive and insecure about my own playing. That was partly because of my upbringing in the typical school mindset of who can play higher, faster, louder, etc.
But as I’ve matured and focussed on my own growth, stopped competing with others and tried to improve my own weak areas, I’ve learned to appreciate other players for what their strengths (and weaknesses) are. We all have them! If there is a weak area for someone and they need help that I can offer, I’m in their corner. And I’ve sought out players for my weak areas as well to help me build up and become a more well-rounded player.
So my second tip for you today is to celebrate the differences in each individual players’ trumpet voice – don’t compete… there is no gold ring (brass ring in our case), trophy, or any other form of “reward” for beating someone musically. That’s just silly… Stay focussed on your personal growth and create wonderful music that the world needs!
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking
others to live as one wishes to live.
– Oscar Wilde
Have a GREAT week!