Weekly Trumpet Tips 3/26/13

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!

Tip #1 – Recovery Process

If you’re vaguely familiar with the South By Southwest Music Festival, you may know that Austin is inundated with musicians, singer / songwriters, and the downtown area is brimming with activity.  For local musicians it can either be a weeks vacation or it can be a busy week of playing constantly.  I was in between the 2… but still played some very long and loud shows that wiped me out by day 3.

I find that for me it takes a couple of days of rest… but it’s not like I’m “fresh as a daisy” after a couple of days of rest.  After playing THAT hard, I find that I have to rebuild what damage I’ve done to my chops.  My endurance, top end range, and even my flexibility tends to suffer.

Maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s how hard I push when I do play… but it’s always a good 5 to 7 days before I’m back in shape again after reaching that dreaded point of no return on the fatigue.  I’ve found that a full day off doesn’t always do wonders for me.  But, talking to other players, they seem to rebound just fine.  My point is – you should experiment with what suits you best for physical recovery.  I lay off the high stuff for a day and do pedals, etc.  Just to get my sound to “re-center” and focus again.  I play very sparingly and sparsely.

Remember – everyone responds / recovers differently… find what works best for your recovery process, and stick with it.

Tip #2 – TUNING!  

I watch and listen to some band directors in the area that have their wind players pushing and pulling to try to get into tune.  For brass players, just because your slide is out, doesn’t mean that it’s a guarantee that you’ll be in tune.  Our tuning and intonation is derived by aperture and air use – NOT by the slide at the end of our lead pipe!  It’s funny and frustrating at the same time to watch as these band directors get a trumpet player “in tune” on a 2nd line G, but are perplexed why the student is drastically sharp or flat on a middle C (3rd space).

Anytime I get a new student in and their tuning slide is further out than 1/4 of an inch, I am pretty regularly alerted to a massive pinching problem.  Upon asking that student, their answer is usually “that’s where my director told me to put my slide.”  Sigh…

One of the best ways to really get a handle on pinching and make playing more comfortable is to push your slide all the way in, grab your tuner, and play starting on the 2nd line G.  First see how sharp you are, then pitch bend the note down into tune.  The more you work on this and try to stay centered, the more relaxed (and balanced) you’ll start to learn to play.  It’s not that anything is broken or “that’s just the way I play,” but rather it’s a learned trait of playing.

Give it a try!  I’m curious to hear the results… please feel free to post them!

The new album was mastered 3/25/13 and will be available April 2nd.  Here’s a preview!


“Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture.”

– Norman Vincent Peale, author.

Have a GREAT week!