Weekly Trumpet Tips 4/26/16

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1)  Ingredients For Successful Practice!

(2)  Range Improvement

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Tip #1 – Ingredients For Successful Practice!

Looking back on practicing as a kid, I don’t think I ever had a teacher that really “explained” practicing to me… what the REAL make up of successful practice requires, consists of, etc.  This alone could have benefited me as a youth – rather than thinking “you either have it or you don’t!”  If you “don’t have it” then you practice until you do!  I don’t believe there are ANY skills on trumpet that are reserved for “Certain” folks – but not for others!

The necessary ingredients I believe you HAVE to understand are simple!  Consistency, patience and attention to detail!

Consistency means practicing daily!  Building accuracy, dynamics, speed, clarity and a sense for musicality.  Blindly just playing the notes and / or rhythm’s will leave you un-musical and dull!  Listening… truly LISTENING to what you’re putting out in your playing.  A good way to have an understanding of what you’re after is have a concept of what you want to sound like!  I personally want to come as close to aspects of Arturo, Maynard, Doc, Freddie Hubbard and a host of others.  Each has an attribute (or attributes) that I admire and aim for when I play.  Listening to yourself (recorded) and seeing how close you come to those aspects will really help you to gain ground quickly…

Patience – this goes without saying… we get impatient with ourselves and it can wreck the other 2 ingredients really quick!  We can “give up” or just throw caution to the wind because we’re so frustrated!  “Quickly” in musical practice terms is measured in months and years… not hours and days!  Resolve to accept that and you will let go of the illusion that time creates.

Attention to Detail – I kind of addressed this above while discussing consistency.  Recording / listening to yourself can be one of the most beneficial tools of attention to detail!  IF it sounds sloppy, inaccurate and unmusical in the practice room, you can pretty much rest assured that it will come performance time!  Again – with the concept of what you want to sound like, you can clean and polish each practice session… do this daily, and it will transform your playing!

Tip #2 – Range Improvement 

Last week we discussed playing softer in the upper register to help conserve chops, increase endurance and build range.  This week, I want to expound on that concept.

With younger students, one of the biggest problems I see immediately is that when they start ascending to a range they’re not comfortable with they start playing louder… this builds tension in the chops and creates big problems before you know it.  BUT – by playing softer… really TRYING to play soft it starts to reduce the amount of tension build up we all experience.  Once you can get those notes to actually sound, your next job is to get them to sound relaxed – soft!  This means, that we have to break the habit of wanting to pinch the lips down to play those notes.  This alone will help cure 80% of the range problems.  There is NO quick fix to this and it does require your patience… but with time and consistent effort (geez, that was slick tying in tip #1, huh?) you will start to relax.  Volume and power comes with proper air support and allowing more air to come through…

I will be out in Los Angeles next week playing a Maynard Ferguson tribute at the Catalina Jazz club Wednesday May 4th.  Therefore, I will have to skip next week’s tips again… I apologize in advance.

Care about what other people think – and you will always be their prisoner.

Lao Tzu – Philosopher and Writer

Have a GREAT week!