Weekly Trumpet Tips 4/30/13

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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Tip #1 – Let’s Talk REAL Range Building!
One of the biggest questions I get from younger players (especially) is, “how can I get to “X” by my concert next month?”  And while I want to encourage them, there’s no “sure fire” way to guarantee someone that they will be able to play a note that they can’t reach now in a month or less.
Range building occurs through smart practice designed much like a physical work out program.  If we couple bad playing habits with that, the process will take longer.  Most players rely FAR too heavily on lips and don’t use their air efficiently at all.  Being one of those players years ago, the mystery only deepens when someone tells you “use your air.”
For my own personal range increase, I run scales 3 octaves in a chromatic succession and try to not stop, pause or break in between octaves.  Once at the top note (whether it comes out or not) I come right back down the scale and start the next one.  Below is a good example of what I do…
Let’s pretend that F above High C is our goal note…
What I do is run major scales 2 octaves, starting with low C, ascending to high C, and back down… breathe… Move to Db, ascend / descend 2 octaves, move to D.  Now let’s say that once I get to the E, my top notes air out… I do NOT stop, break, or get discouraged.  I continue as if they had come out and move on to F.
The reason behind this is really two-fold!
#1 – I don’t want to start to convince myself that those notes are out of my reach, because then subconsciously I will start to sabotage my efforts.  Pinching, forcing, more facial pressure, etc.  Tough habits to break once they start.
#2 –  You’re building endurance and strength ultimately so that when you finally DO get the F out, it won’t be just a “hittable” note, it will become “playable.”  At least much sooner than if you were just shooting in the dark.
As Claude Gordon indicates in his methods, make 3 attempts only, and stop.  Just like trying to lift heavier and heavier weights, more attempts will only wear you down further.  The idea is to challenge the muscles, and then let them rest.  This is how strength is built.
I may also mention that I don’t worry about volume or power on newer notes either.  Just create “sound” first.  Power and volume come from having enough strength in the aperture and gaining a balance with the air to be able to allow the aperture to open without being blown apart.  Napoleon Blown-apart!  HAHAHA
Tip #2 – I Don’t Have Anything To Practice – 
Boy, if I had a nickel for every time a student came in and said this… GEEZ!  My first question back is, “Can you play all 12 major scales?”  Typically… NO!  IF they can, I change up the pattern on them and make them play all 12 scales linked together… now faster.
Sight-reading, playing over chord changes, learning / memorizing a new tune.
Bottom line, have a goal for the week that you have in front of you.  A good example is:
My focus is improvisation, reaching higher range… I’m going to budget my time accordingly.  Because the range stuff is basic physical workout type activity, I’m going to warm up with scales, arpeggios, and learning melodies that will boost my improvisation.  So each day, I will do that as a part of my warm up.  My range building will NOT happen everyday… therefore, I will pick 1 to 2 tunes, and learn to play over the melody, and build chords over the the changes.  For instance – if I see an E7b5, I’m going to play E, G#, Bb, D to build or create that chord.  Starting with a metronome, I want to be able to build my speed / ability to do each chord faster and faster so that when it comes time to play it with a band or with a rhythm section, I can do so comfortably and not have to think too hard.
Give it a try!  Makes improv a lot more approachable!

“Remember, you are the only person who thinks in your mind! You are the power and authority in your world.”

Louise Hay
Author and Publisher

Have a GREAT week!