Weekly Trumpet Tips 5/26/15

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1) Healing Wounded Chops!

(2) Bad Sound / Unable To Hear Yourself!

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Tip #1 – Healing Wounded Chops 

This question was posed in the comments by subscriber Mike Kaye, and it was such a great question that I wanted to use it for my first tip this week because it affects us all at one point or another!

“If your chops become scalely, broken and/or blistered, what is the best treatment for these conditions? How long should you stop practicing for. I’ve stopped for a week even though my chops seem to be healing on it’s own.”

Answer:  If your chops become split, blistered, “scalely”, etc. the best thing to do is first analyze what caused this problem.  For years, my chops would split – largely during the hot summer months.  I attributed it largely to my intolerance for heat and humidity physically… that was, until last year.  I started drinking up to a gallon of water per day and I haven’t had a split in my lips since.  Dehydration is a massive issue for us as humans, but as trumpet playing humans, it causes all sorts of unsightly issues that we don’t always attribute to dehydration.  If you’re unable to get a good clean buzz during your warm up and you have to force things, if your lips feel swollen, weak or just sore in general, etc.  Those are all signs that you are dehydrated.

But – what about when your lip is already injured?  Good question… the best thing to do is what Maynard used to do.  He would literally soak his lip in warm (as warm as you can stand) salt water… sea salt works best.  There were times he would go between 2 different bowls of water… warm salt water and ice water.  This helps promote the healing process.  The other thing is to keep lip moisture up… stay hydrated and track down some non-petroleum lip balm!  I personally use “Egyptian Magic” as that’s what MF used.  Chop Saver is fine, but I prefer Egyptian.  I find it at Whole Foods… comes in a cold cream looking jar and isn’t necessarily “cheap.”  But – the jar will last you 2 years or more!

As I’ve stated before, I don’t take days off… I play everyday.  But I do modify my playing when things are tired, injured, etc.  During the healing process, work on pedal tones and the lower Clarke Studies.  Take LOTS of breaks and get yourself rehydrated!

Tip #2 – Bad Sound / Unable To Hear Yourself!

This tip is coming off of a weekend of bad sound!  Friday night I had the pleasure of going to hear Arturo Sandoval LIVE at One World Theater here in Austin, TX.  Usually he travels with his own sound man, but this year he had to rely on the house provided engineer.  I felt bad for him as he was fighting with monitor feedback, changing balances and not being able to hear himself (as did all members of his band).  I know this all too well as this is a very familiar problem!

Saturday night I was performing with a group and the sound man only checked drums, bass, keys and vocal mic’s.  NEVER once did he offer to check the horns.  I spent the entire gig hearing nothing but vocals and bass drum.

What this causes for us as organic instruments is an internal desire to hear ourselves the way we’re used to hearing our sound.  So we subconsciously start playing harder and louder.  When you do that, you’re are on borrowed time!  The only way to really deal with that issue is to first, talk with the sound man… if he is unreasonable and under-skilled (as these buffoons were Friday and Saturday) the next thing to do is back off and trust that your sound is getting out there.  If not… that’s not your responsibility at that point – it falls on the sound man!  It’s a VERY tough and unpleasant playing situation when this occurs (and it will from time to time), but just back off and trust that your sound will get out.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'”

Muhammad Ali
Boxing Champion

Have a GREAT week!