Weekly Trumpet Tips 2/15/11

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips!

“About Face” is out and available!!!  All the waiting, struggle, and energy was WELL worth it!  I’m very pleased with how the book turned out and know you will be too!  About Face is ALSO now available in E-Book download and Amazon Kindle form!

It’s available HERE!!! (Click on image to see full size)

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!  We truly appreciate all that write in.  It’s hard to answer right away these days, but keep checking back!  I DO answer!  🙂

ATTENTION Chops Rehab Subscribers!!! A new bonus video is now available!!!  Be sure to check it out under Bonus Videos!

Check 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.  We now also have t-shirts!  Check out our new t-shirt design!  We have the “adult version and the school friendly “student version!”

Here are your weekly Tips!

Tip #1 – Habits Of Excellence!

This is a continuation from last week, and will go forward for all 7 topics…

If we’re going to set habits, we might as well make them positive and beneficial vs. something we’re going to have to go back and fix later because of repercussions from laziness or not being clear.  My favorite way to think about that is from the movie Jurassic Park when they were using frog DNA to fill in the blanks.  What kind of information is getting left out because of it?

If we approach our habits of excellence in the following categories, we can certainly improve not only our habits, but our outcomes.  We’ll look at each one in depth over the next seven weeks.  The following seven categories are from Gerald Klickstein’s book “The Musician’s Way.”

1) Ease

2 Expressiveness

3) Accuracy

4) Rhythmic Vitality

5) Beautiful Tone

6) Focussed Attention

7) Positive Attitude

Positive Attitude is one of the hardest things to build reservoir’s of for most all musicians (not just trumpet players).  Some things come easy and make us feel great… other abilities are the mountain that looks impossible.  This is probably the biggest single reason that players give up ultimately and quit playing for good.

As the “Musician’s Way” points out, having difficulties with a passage, a skill, or a technique is NOT a personal flaw or something that we cannot overcome.  It simply means that we must seek out an answer by working through it slowly, taking lessons, talking to other players, and staying positive and rising above the issue.  NOTHING is impossible if you truly believe… remember this – whether you believe you can or you cannot – either way you’ll be correct!

Tip #2 – Strength Vs. Relaxed Focus

Whether it be through messages from our teachers, band directors, or our own beliefs, most of us are convinced that to reach into the upper register, we must build an incredible amount of strength – hence the phrase “They’ve got STRONG chops!”

When you really break it down though, strength can start to work against you.  It takes a certain amount of finesse more than it does strength – similar to firing a pistol.  If you squeeze the grip too tight, the movement of your finger will force your wrist to twist slightly off target.  We can also attempt to “compensate” for the kick that the gun creates – so we pull our wrists down thinking it will help offset the recoil.  Trumpet playing usually has the same kind of compensating twitch.  We tighten (and ultimately close) our apertures by pulling the corners into a smile as we ascend and / or we roll the vibrating surface under our teeth leaving the tougher skin to try and vibrate.

So the next time you’re working on upper register and perhaps struggling for that “next” goal note, remember that strength is not necessarily the answer.  Try to relax the aperture (the hole where the air is coming into the mouthpiece) and keep the “embouchure” (everything outside and around the mouthpiece) still.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

1694-1778, Philosopher and Writer

Have a GREAT week!