Weekly Trumpet Tips 1/15/13

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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Tip #1 – When Your Chops Are Fatigued!

Once again – December put me in very close contact with constant and total chops fatigue.  When this happens, we automatically start looking at other things besides fatigue as to why we’re not playing as well.  I know first hand that you may as well throw EVERYTHING out the window when total fatigue kicks in.

Whether it be a pre-occupied sub-conscious, or I’m mentally shot too, my time, rhythm, tone, creativity, etc. ALL succumb to fatigue.

Now – this is NOT a free pass to jump off the practicing train, but simply a word to the wise to not allow yourself to get here in the first place.  What put me in this spot was gigging a lot, practicing 4 to 5 hours per day, etc.  I wasn’t even really doing anything out of the staff.  But playing is playing.

First thing to do is to recognize that when things don’t feel right, they’re probably not and you need rest!  Remember that it takes anywhere from 48 to 72 hours for full recovery from fatigue.  This is different for each person, but for me I can usually bank on the higher number (getting old I guess).  I would plan on warming up gently, and simply leaving it at that for a day or two (for physically playing).  Practicing can fall back to fingering through things, active listening (see below), and transcription.

Tip #2 – Active Listening!

As a musician, we have to develop the skills of listening to music differently than an average (non musical folk) person.  We must attune ourselves to hear the inflection, phrasing, use of dynamics, note choices over the chords, etc.  It’s the little inflections that give each artist their own unique voice.  For instance – many can tell when Miles Davis is playing vs. Dizzy Gillespie.  Both were pioneers in  the jazz language… but both had their own approach.

Miles once said – it takes a really long time to start sounding like yourself.  And he’s exactly right.  Think about how we learned to speak the language that we do.  Early on – it was through our parents, grand parents, brothers, sisters, etc.  They taught us both actively and subconsciously how to phrase things… put words together and actually create understandable sentences to convey a host of different needs, wants, etc.  Music is NO different!  It’s simply another form of communication that we must absorb… by listening (actively) transcribing, and getting inside a players mindset, we can learn that language in time.

This holds true for ALL instruments and styles of music… not just trumpet and jazz.  This week – take some time to “actively” listen to a players characteristics.  What does that person do that causes you to recognize them when you hear them?

“Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey.”

Michael Josephson
Speaker on the subject of ethics and former law professor

Have a GREAT week!