Weekly Trumpet Tips 3/15/16

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1)  Necessity For A Solid Warm Up Routine!

(2)  Gear Won’t Solve Playing Issues!

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Tip #1 – Necessity For A Solid Warm Up Routine!

I’ve discussed this in the past and I think it’s important enough to bring up once again because it can make you or break you (I believe) for the day and can lead to lip injury if you’re not careful!  A great many players think that they can do a few quick “routines” and they’ll be ready to take the stage and bring the house down.  What most players don’t realize is that the top guys have a strict routine (or routines depending on lip condition) that they use.  They take the time necessary to warm up correctly and never rush it…

Maynard told me that he always had a reputation back in the Birdland days of walking in, ripping out his horn (no warm up) and step on stage to just start bringing down the rafters.  He laughed heartily and said, what those guys didn’t know was that I was warming up before I left and during my hour + long drive into the city.  So by the time he hit the stage, he was amply warmed up!  While touring with him, I could hear him doing things… mouthpiece buzzing (depending on the room situation), playing, etc.  He didn’t start pushing the upper register until about 30 – 45 minutes before show time!

Arturo and Wayne also have specific things they do… and I can promise you… it’s not playing a couple of major scales, doing some lip flexibilities and then running up to the stage and killing it!  These guys are the masters… and they understand what it takes to be in top shape under all sorts of conditions… just like a world class athlete!

The first rule to remember when warming up is that playing trumpet is an EXTREMELY physical instrument!  It’s a lot more than JUST the lips that need to be put into performing condition… you also have to think about the air (breathing), tongue and fingers and your brain (concentration).  Getting the coordination going between all 5 aspects is vital.  My warm up routine shifts slightly depending on how I’m feeling that particular day and how hard I’ve played in the past 3 to 5 (or more) days.  If I’ve had a pretty light / easy work load, then my warm up doesn’t “start” the same as it would if I’ve been working a lot.  If I’ve been pushing hard, I start with low octave notes to pedal tones… between soft volumes and loud volumes.  I use whisper type playing to help establish a good buzz connection between the lips and the air.  Fatigued muscles will need extra care…

If you’d like to see my warm up, I created a 50 minute video on what I do… you can still get access for $15 by emailing me at bugsytrumpet@gmail.com to see what I do.  There are lots of great things to do for warm up… but you have to spend the time doing them – and be patient!

Tip #2 – Gear Won’t Solve Playing Issues!

Typical for this time of year, a lot of conventions and trade shows are taking place around the world.  NAMM in California mid January, TMEA in San Antonio, TX in early February and countless others that I can’t even begin to recall.  All of them tons of fun to walk around and see / test drive the new equipment manufacturers are putting out.

I’ve gone down to TMEA for the last 12 years and each year I see the same thing… players looking for “THAT” mouthpiece or the new horn that makes them play higher than ever before.  You can literally zero in on one person and walk around behind them going through the same regimen.  Find new equipment, look interested, pick it up – start wailing away.  Put down said equipment – didn’t work… onto the next horn, mouthpiece or booth.

Okay – here’s where I admit that I was one of those guys too, many years ago.  Sucked in by the lure of new gear (I’m a self-professed gear geek).  I didn’t care how annoying it was for the people in and around the booth… I was on a quest – a mission!  But once I started REALLY practicing the fundamentals and focussing more on my weaknesses as a player / musician, the less I was interested in gear for range or solving big problems.

My mouthpiece quest is nearly complete… I’m happy with my sound and the feel of the pieces I currently use.  Although I am having a deeper cup built with a 1 throat for the darkest sound possible.  As for horns… I look for sound and comfort of playing.  The first thing I check is how it feels in my hands.  Does it “fit?”  Secondly, I check to see if the blow feels right.  A tight lead pipe or small bore horn just doesn’t speak to me… believe me – I’ve tried to make them work.  And lastly – I test slides and valves… do they operate easily or will they require work?  To me – the 3 aspects of a horn that will drive me nuts is blow, valves and slides.  If one (or all) don’t suit me, it will eventually aggravate me!  Just as it would most any other player…

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

Have a GREAT week!