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 The Chops Aren’t Working!
For obvious reasons, I’ve been doing a TON of playing everyday for the last several weeks. The great news is – I’m in the studio working on the new album… the bad news is – I’m pooped!
Here’s where it starts to get interesting… typically if our corners are sore, we “know” that we’re tired and need to rest the chops becasue we feel it. Much like our arms, legs, etc. But from YEARS of doing things wrong, and continually beating myself senseless, I learned through writing “About Face” that when the little tiny muscles inside your lips that form the aperture (THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF PLAYING) fatigue, they don’t really have any way of “telling” you. Other than tapping out and making you fall back on more corner strength. These aperture muscles are TINY! And once they get pushed past the point of fatigue, it takes anywhere from 48 to 96 hours for FULL recovery!
This DOES NOT mean that you should lay completely off the horn however… for me, it indicates that I have to understand my limits and stay away from long endurance based playing and upper register playing. I will spend a day or two playing sparsely – pedal tones and low register playing, mixed with LONG breaks! If I have “practicing” to do, I usually just finger along with a metronome, etc.
This tip will really allow you to avoid extremely frustrating playing sessions, and be a little more kind and gentle to the tiny muscles that carry the brunt of our playing load!
Tip #2 – “The Devil is in The Details”
This old saying holds VERY true in learning, practicing, and performing music – for ALL musicians! And this is where tenacity and desire HAVE to take over or we will not reach our goals or the level of our super heroes!
While this may seem very obvious for some – there are a great many players that just haven’t been taught to look at every little aspect of playing. It’s truly amazing as to how the best hiding places are sometimes in plain sight!
When you listen to Maynard, Arturo, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Jerry Hey, etc. (the list is vast and I’m sorry for only listing a few), you’re hearing the results from countless hours of mindful, careful, and “boring” practice! I use the word “boring” because I’ve had many a student say this very thing to me. Practicing with a metronome religiously, recording yourself, and playing dynamics and articulations as spot on as possible. Using emotion to help guide the music. Get further inside than just the notes on the page! While in many cases the written music is exactly what the composer / arranger was hearing at the time, it’s still written. It takes human interaction and interpretation to bring a piece to life!
“Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead, that is where your future lies.”
Esther Lederer – (Better known as Ann Landers)
1918-2002, Advice Columnist
Have a GREAT week!