Weekly Trumpet Tips 3/4/14

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!

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These are designed to be 4 weeks worth of lessons to help the student gain insights and skills in each specific area.

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(Physical CD’s Available HERE)

Tip #1 – Writing Things Out Is NOT Always The Best Way!

This is something I’ve come to find very true for my particular learning style.  We all learn slightly different from one another, and therefore I believe it’s VERY important to understand your own learning needs and tendencies.

Ask yourself this – do I learn better… seeing, hearing, doing, reading, theorizing or is it a combination of them all to some degree?

Once you understand what helps you grasp new concepts, then use it to your advantage.  I truly believe that if schools and school systems understood this very simple equation about the human mind, we could have some of the strongest educational institutions in the world.

My current example is as follows: I’m in the process of learning some key licks that I really think are pretty cool over ii/V7/I chord progressions, as well as over minor chord progressions.  In years past when I tried to learn “licks” I would try writing them out in all 12 keys and then practice them.  I found that I got bored pretty quickly with this process because it became a reading exercise vs. a learning tool to completely move off the page.  So, the tactic that I’ve landed on is to learn the lick in all 12 keys chromatically seeing the lick in one key only.  I study the initial lick and look at the movement of each note.  For example – 5-7-5-3-2-1: This is the key to playing one idea in all 12 keys across a ii chord.  This may take me a week, a month, etc.  But the process works for me.  Once I can play the lick in all 12 keys with very little conscious thought, I will then start doing the lick in 4th’s, 5th’s, and in tritone patterns (Am / Ebm, etc.)  Then I’ll dissect the lick and learn it backwards, split into 2, etc.  This then gives me TOTAL control over the idea and I can use it in many different variations.  But without me understanding my learning style fully, I would still be struggling to learn patterns.

What process do you use to easily learn new ideas and concepts?

Tip #2 – Understanding When To Rest!

I’m here at this “constantly tired chops” phase once again.  How do I know?  Things just aren’t working… my endurance in the upper register peters out about 20 minutes in, my accuracy starts to slip, and everything just feels more difficult.  I know that it’s time to take a few days and just go easy on the chops.  Physically I don’t feel much… not like you would if you over work your arms or legs.  So don’t be fooled by the “feel” of the chops.  If you’ve been pushing super hard and suddenly things just stop functioning or it seems more difficult to do today what was easy yesterday, then chances are you’ve joined me in the “constantly tired chops” phase as well.

I’m not in a place where I can “not play” and be okay, so my process is that I limit my playing time to 30 minutes to an hour per day for 3 days or so.  What little playing I do is limited to working on ideas (as mentioned above), running chord progressions, and scale studies.  I will rarely venture above a G on top of the staff.  As I start to increase my playing demands again, I will focus on flexibility and push gently upward over the next couple of days… if time allows.

Take it easy on the chops… they are SMALL muscles that should not be brutalized, because without them, playing won’t happen!

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little – do what you can.”

Sydney Smith
1771-1845, Clergyman and Writer

Have a GREAT week!