Weekly Trumpet Tips 12/3/13

The Shadow

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!

Check out About Face HERE!!! Check out Secrets to Efficient Brass Playing HERE!!!

ReCheck out the Chops Rehab and Jazz Improv courses. These 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 – Talk is Cheap, Put Your Mouthpiece Where Your Mouth Is & Ignore the Mind-less Chatter!

As I’ve said here before, these days I try to lead by example… and not be shy about admitting to my downfalls, lazy tendencies, or fear factors that I’ve experienced in my playing life.

One of the things that I am guilty of (and for the record have fixed), is spending more time talking about playing rather than just getting busy and practicing.  The only way we will ever grow, is if we set ego’s aside, face our fears, and press forward into the most difficult and daunting of trumpeting tasks!

You see, looking back on what was stopping me from actually doing the work, was me!  I would spend more time making excuses as to why I couldn’t, didn’t have time, etc. vs. actually just sitting down and forging ahead.  Largely, I was stopped in my tracks because I was believing this pre-recorded message in my own mind telling me that I’m not good enough, and never will be, so what’s the use?  Somewhere in my youth, I started getting the notion that I wasn’t this protege and therefore putting forth tons of work was futile.  That’s the danger we all face as youngsters… once we learn that something is difficult, I mean downright HARD, sometimes the mental towel gets thrown in – especially if your role models, parents, guardians, etc. tend to reinforce that message of impossibility.

So this weeks first tip is simply, “Shhh… just practice!”  Quiet your mind, stop listening to the “reality reasoning” and allow yourself to forge ahead.  Whether it be improvisation, time, reading, range, melodic playing, or what ever you’re facing.  Just quiet the negativity and the excuses and practice for today – not for tomorrow, or even for 6 months from now… just practice for today.

Tip #2 – Range – It’s Just NOT That Hard!

The more I practice other facets of my playing, the less I think about range.  Not that I’m letting things slide, but I’ve just figured out ways to change my approach to upper register playing.  The bottom line really is that range comes down to “fast air” and “slow air.”  Most of us use our lips as the tools to speed up the air and slow it down.  Kind of a “chewing” motion if you will.  Tightening to go up, and loosening to go down.  We’re leaning on small muscles to make this happen, and playing on borrowed time.  These small muscles can only last so long, and because they’re considered “fast twitch” muscles, they will only gain “so much” strength.

This is the problem that most of us run into because of the mis-information out there.  And, this mis-information runs rampant on most trumpet forums these days… the so-called arm-chair lead players giving their best advice.  “Try these exercises because they will increase your range.”  Or, “Buy this horn / mouthpiece because it’s built for lead playing.”

Essentially, EVERYTHING we play can be a range exercise – if it’s approached properly.  Last week I posted a video (sorry for the wrong pathway initially) demonstrating “Misty” up an octave.  The melody I was using in the key that I was playing it in, doesn’t have me go above a G above high C in its entirety.  But – the half-way mark to play the melody completely one time through is 2 minutes and 6 seconds.  That’s a LONG time to be playing “up there.”  Let’s say that this is out of your current reach… find simple melodies that take you to a high C and play them efficiently.  Watch yourself in the mirror while playing up there, and play softly.  You’ll be amazed as to how much you’ll start to relax – making you more efficient!


“All life is a chance. So take it! The person who goes furthest is the one who is willing to do and dare.”

Dale Carnegie
1888-1955, Author, Lecturer, and Trainer

Have a GREAT week!