Weekly Trumpet Tips 1/26/16

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1) Warm Up Routine

(2) Gaining Strength

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Tip #1 – Warm Up Routine – 

When I was a younger player my warm up routine was never consistent and really had no purpose beyond being able to play as insanely high as possible for that day… always chasing the memory of what I considered to be my best chops day.  Therefore, I put very little effort into doing anything that would be constructive, thought out or help create a consistent playing result.  I was falling victim to the “good day / bad day” idea.  And believe me – there were a lot more bad days than good.

It wasn’t until AFTER I had toured with MF and got to see his process did I start to have a glimmer of light shed on what was causing me issues.  Over the last 12 years (since touring with Maynard) I have gained a good understanding and concept of how to warm up effectively so that I get a consistent result in playing.

As I started asking other players about their warm up processes, I realized that a GREAT many players, students and adults alike, really had no direction or true purpose in their warm up time – just like me 12+ years ago.  And in a great many cases, it couldn’t even really be classified as a genuine warm up… more of a “play a few things that I was told would help me warm up and hope for the best” session.  I have learned that it’s not just “what” you play, but the thought behind it… asking yourself questions like: “Am I doing these lips slurs using my air or am I tightening and loosening my lips to just get through this?”  “Do my lips feel stiff?… Why?”

It also comes down to how much time do you spend warming up?  I’ve seen players walk into gigs having not touched the horn at all during the day and spend about 10 minutes or so playing scales and lip flexibilities… cramming as much as they can into the 10 minutes they have and hitting the stage.  Only to end up dead in the water half way through the gig!

I recently sat down and took time to record my warm up process so that you can see first hand what I do… this took me over 10 years to figure out, scrap, start over, fine tune and finally get to where I’m at.  This is a 51 minute video that I will sell to the general public for $29.00.  If your warm up sounds like something I mentioned above (playing a few things and hoping for the best), then check this video out.  I am going to offer it for a limited time for $15.00 (1/2 the price I intend to sell it for)!

If you’re interested in checking it out, please email me at bugsytrumpet@gmail.com and put “Warm Up” in the Subject line.  I’m still having issues with the delivery system on the site and will personally send this course to you.

Tip #2 – Gaining Strength

I have to confess that learning how to gain strength has been an uphill battle most of my life… more like an “up Mount Everest” battle!  Over practicing and fighting continual fatigue that actually caused muscle damage which in turn caused me to lose strength vs. gain seemed like a never ending vicious cycle I was in. I didn’t have a clear idea on how to constructively practice (as a lot of players don’t) because I was never shown proper practice methods as a kid, and never asked the right questions from recent / current mentors.

The cycle I was in was to over practice for 4 to 5 days in a row, play really hard on gigs and pay the price.  Much like trying to recover from a sports injury, I would have to drastically reduce my practice time and heal.  Once things started to heal, I was back at the bottom of the hill (range / endurance wise) and would start my build all over again.

So I started instituting a couple of practice things I picked up from here and there… the first thing I did was made myself warm up daily in the same manner…  taking frequent breaks.  The next thing I did was stick to the play for 10 minutes / break for 10 – 20 minute rule.  If I’m really trying to learn something and don’t want to take a mental break, I’ll switch to my Sandovalves or the piano and work on memorizing patterns… or I’ll throw on a recording and listen to various players play over a tune I’m working on.  Listening is an entire art form all by itself.

I also picked up a mouthpiece that Austin Winds created called the “Ballad” mouthpiece.  It’s basically a flugelhorn top on a trumpet shank (very short) that has a fairly wide open throat.  So it’s much more challenging to play on it for any length of time, thereby forcing me to rest as needed.  Now I can’t 100% say this is the root cause of my growth in strength, but I sure feel different than before I started this routine.  Because I believe in playing the same diameter – just different depths and back bore characteristics, it’s exactly the same diameter as my regular piece.  Some guys can successfully play larger / smaller rims and do fine… but I’ve not had much luck with that and am now superstitious.

Anyway – it’s worth looking at if you really want to gain strength (range / endurance).  But remember – build in the rest periods… and check out my warm up video (referenced in tip 1)!

“You had a purpose before anyone had an opinion.”
– Unknown

Have a GREAT week!