Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:
(1) Soft / Relaxed Playing
(2) Don’t Ask The Question…
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Tip #1 – Soft / Relaxed Playing
As I state in “Chops Rehab,” playing whisper soft builds your aperture – which in my opinion is a far more important focus over the “embouchure” stuff most band directors, players, and some lesson teachers focus on. It is in my humble opinion that the aperture is where your tone, intonation, range, endurance, power and consistency all stem from! Most of us over play without even knowing it – really. It’s EXTREMELY easy to get sucked into playing too loudly through a bombastic drummer, over playing section mates, etc.
If you’re looking to build range, start with playing softly so that you can develop the habit of relaxing on those notes that you’re striving for. Power comes from playing relaxed… not from forcing things! When you start trying to expand range by attempting to plaster notes against the back wall, you build up tension and memorize (muscle memory) tension to get those notes out. What many young (and impatient) trumpet students don’t want to hear is that there is no set amount of time that it will take to increase your range and consistency. It takes as long as it takes – but I can tell you from experience that if you take the hasty approach, it will cost you FAR more time than if you go down the soft path.
By learning to relax and play on the softer side, you will learn to work with the resonance and not fight the horn. Our job is tough enough… relax!
Tip #2 – Don’t Ask The Question…
If you don’t want to hear the real answer! I’ve had quite a few fellow players ask me how I learned to play up to Double C with power and consistency. Believe me – I spent a great many years chasing that dream and dreading the answer… the REAL answer. As in tip #1, many players have already put in tons of work to get where they are… learning that what they may have been taught was not on point or even incorrect can be a daunting task as well as deflating. When I finally started getting the real answers from real players who know how to do what I wanted to be able to do, I was reluctant to listen at first… once I started to listen and practice what I was being told, things improved. My teachers through middle school and high school really had NO clue… just the mere fact that I got away with not being able to count rhythm’s till college is proof enough! Let alone screwing up my chops through bad practice advice, bad equipment advice, etc.
My best advice to you is to try and let go of the past things that haven’t been working. Once you start asking the questions, be prepared for the answers and listen… avoidance will only prolong the current problems. Keeping an open mind will help you find the answers that resonate with you…
I realized early on that success was tied to not giving up. Most people in this business gave up and went on to other things. If you simply didn’t give up, you would outlast the people who came in on the bus with you.
Harrison Ford – Actor
Have a GREAT week!