Weekly Trumpet Tips 4/7/15

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1) 3 Simple Questions

(2) Rest & Recovery!

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Tip #1 – 3 Simple Questions:

Here are 3 very simple questions that I have been asking myself when it comes to my practicing over the long term.  I am like anyone else, I’m looking for fast results and I don’t want to necessarily have to take YEARS or decades to make something work.

#1 – What Am I Practicing?  When I get enough time down to actually practice something for the betterment of myself (not a group that I’m in) I ask this question.  This is a question that I should have been asking myself 25 – 30 years ago because all I would do is run scales, arpeggio’s and other exercises to improve and enhance my range.  Mindlessly!  My reading, style and over all trumpet playing suffered dramatically because of it!  So I try to get a well rounded practice going so that I touch on jazz, classical, reading, memorization and ear training!  Range, flexibility and other “trumpet goodies” are thrown in too but just not my only course of action!

#2 – What’s Working?  Again, a question that I should have been asking myself years ago!  When I look at what’s working, I primarily look at my practice day… not necessarily the materials that I’m covering (as that was covered with the first question) but rather, how much time on and off the horn during the course of my practice day.  Playing until your chops bleed will NOT yield positive results, so I will default to the Sandovalves for finger work on difficult passages and memorization technique.  And the piano to work on chords and ear training.

#3 – What’s Not Working?  If I’ve been working a particular set of chord changes or a difficult pattern on a classical piece that just isn’t coming together, I will reflect on my approach to that instance.  If I’m having little growth over a period of a couple of weeks, then it’s simply my approach to learning whatever I’m working on.  So I will look for another angle on my approach.

These 3 simple questions can bring you MASSIVE changes quickly because you’re having to do some serious and honest evaluating on your practicing.  We practice to get better… not to waste time!  Make yours count!

Tip #2 – Rest & Recovery!

Rest & recovery time has always been something that I’ve struggled to grasp and balance with the type of playing (and the amount) that I do.  I typically play “all out!”  No holds barred, no backing down, etc.  And while I try to be smart about it, I play like I play… As I’ve figured out my rest and recovery needs physically this has caused me less and less problems in recent years.

Like I have been saying for a while now, we don’t have “pain receptors” in our lips (aperture – inside the mouthpiece) to indicate when we’re starting to fatigue, and by the time we actually feel it, this tends to be showing up in the corners and other “support” muscles that are now taking the brunt of the trauma.  Once your playing situation is complete it’s really best to let the facial muscles have a good 24 – 48 hour break with only sparse playing (long tones, softer playing) being done to keep the chops going.  As I’ve said before, I never take a complete day off (unless forced to) so I’ll stick to easier playing for the first 24 hours.  I really want the muscles to have a chance to fully recover!

If you play it smart (no pun intended) and take care of the chops by letting them rest and recover, you’ll minimize the amount of damage that I’ve personally experienced in my playing life.  Having to rebuild after recovery is not a fun process!

“In absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia, until we ultimately become enslaved by it.”

Robert Heinlein
1907-1988, Novelist and Screenwriter

Have a GREAT week!