Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:
(1) Practice Approach
(2) A Little Practice Gem!
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Tip #1 – Practice Approach
First let me apologize for the absence last week… I was in the middle of upgrading to a new computer and wasn’t able to get them out in time before the switch over – but we’re back!
I am always amazed at how much I learn being a teacher AND a student of trumpet and music. My students always manage to teach me something about myself and the instrument every time we meet. Whether that student be a consummate practitioner or someone who tries to get to the horn a few times a week… or “THAT” person who hardly ever picks up the horn yet wants to see massive playing improvements.
I am learning that you must be a great “LISTENER” on both ends. Hearing and comprehending are 2 things that need to go along with one another… and one without the other is nearly useless. You can hear someone say something – but do you really understand? Did you really listen? The teachers I’ve had in my life that have made the biggest impact are ones that you HAVE to listen to… asking questions until you understand is fine… but you must listen in between the words they say. And take nothing for granted… the biggest gems I’ve had fall into my lap have been nearly in passing or as an after-thought.
I’ve had a few students that over the years have come to me for range help… and no matter how I spell it out to them, they don’t “get” the message because my answer is immediately followed by their, “Ya – But!” What is this, The Flintstones? HAHAHA…
What about after the lesson and back in the practice room? There are a lot of folks who have one small little issue that is causing the entire applecart to screech to a halt! Just like a small pebble in the path of a skinny wheel, that one little mis-step or over sight can cause you to scramble your own brains going crazy trying to figure things out. Sometimes the solution to the biggest problems are very small… slowing down can stop you from wasting more time trying to rush through patterns. Playing softer in the upper register can actually help you to relax and understand what is / isn’t needed or conducive to upper register playing!
IF you are hitting road block after road block in the practice room… take a serious look in between the big problems and look for simple solutions. It just may catapult you to the success you’re looking for.
Tip #2 – A Little Practice Gem!
Ever have a great day where your range just seems to be flowing out with total ease and comfort? Ever hit a note that you’ve never been able to hit before, and it was easy? The hard cold truth about weak range and endurance is very simple… while we DO have to have a consistent routine to keep us in shape, we DO NOT have to work so hard that we cause an aneurysm! A great many players that I’ve spoken to over the years that are having range issues suffer from playing too loudly in the upper register! The higher they go, the louder they play… this not only wears you out faster, it actually makes higher frequencies much more difficult because you’re blowing MORE air (a bigger column of air) through the horn. Tension is probably the number 1 killer of upper register playing, endurance and intonation.
The way I figured out my upper register was through playing those notes softly and under control. Every time I over worked anything in the upper range, it would shut down on me and I’d basically be done for the day… or sounding really crappy through the remainder of my gig! Ah – but what about gaining volume in the upper register you ask? That does come, but you have to work on staying relaxed and allow the aperture to open slightly more in that range. Believe me – the change is SO small that you literally have to experiment with how much is enough and how much is too much.
That little gem alone had eluded me for decades… and every time I get away from it, forget about it, fall and hit my head causing total amnesia, or am just plain stubborn, I start my struggle all over again. Don’t be like that me! A little patience and careful / consistent / conscientious practicing will get you a long way!
Care about what other people think – and you will always be their prisoner.
Lao Tzu – Philosopher and Writer
Have a GREAT week!