Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:
(1) Warm Up – VITAL
(2) The Right Gear
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Tip #1 – Warm Up – VITAL!
I have learned over the years and decades of playing that a good solid warm up is VITAL to not only a successful show, but also to lip health and strength! When I say a “good solid” warm up, I’m not talking about just mindlessly running through a few chosen exercises. I’m talking about spending a good amount of time on and off the horn, checking how the lips are responding and if swelling is a factor.
Hard playing the day / night before can leave you swollen – depending on your body response and how hard you played. So I ALWAYS start with descending arpeggio’s (rest as much as you play) as far down as I can legitimately go! WARNING – When doing pedal tones – use the proper fingerings! Do NOT play pedal C “all 3 down!” Play it open… it won’t sound right for a long time (in some cases), but it will eventually get easier / stronger and become a clear note. Cheating will only prolong that process of getting it right. That goes for everything below pedal C as well…
I do as much or more “no playing” as I do actual face time playing when I’m warming up. After doing my pedal tones and resting for a bit, I go in and do Clarke 1 as soft as I can. I’ll also do Clarke 2, but daisy-chain them together so I’m not coming off the horn until I’ve done the bulk of them. Again… resting as much as possible! My warm up usually stretches across 2 to 3 hours of time. Again – I’m not playing most of that… but helping to get the chops back to a responsive form.
This has helped balance out my good / bad days and turn them into far more consistent playing days… I usually know what to expect out of my chops now. It’s also keeping me away from lip injury! A good warm up will always help with good lip health! And don’t forget to drink PLENTY of water in the summer! Your lips are largely water!
Tip #2 – The Right Gear
I think at heart, we are all “gear junkies” on some level. I know that I am! Whether it be cases, horns, etc. – I’m into it. But the right gear isn’t necessarily what someone else says you should play or have, but what fits what you do! I am extremely pleased with all of my Austin Winds horns… I have 4 of them! Each creates a different sound for different circumstances of playing and I love each one for the different things they offer me. My first horn from them was the standard 470LT with a copper bell. I still have it and have been playing it for over 10 years now! I LOVE that horn! It’s got a dark rich sound but isn’t shy (by any means) in the upper register! I use it when I have to blend with lower timbre instruments these days… or when I’m just ready for a change up. My second horn from them is my Balanced Ballad – I am currently using this as a Flugelhorn replacement! It’s SUPER dark and kinda heavy… but man – what a sound! 3rd is my extremely bright lead horn they put together for me years ago. It’s essentially the same body and lead pipe as the 470LT, but with a smaller taper on the bell flare… it’s extremely bright and works GREAT in big band lead situations or in overly loud cover gigs. My last horn (newest of the bunch) is my Broadway… I use this when I need to blend with a tenor sax! It’s timbre is between the lead horn and the copper bell and blends extremely well.
I’ve learned that for me – I love having the ability to change my sound slightly, by changing out which horn I play. If I’m playing demandingly high stuff, my lead horn is my go to choice. Bottom line – there is no right or wrong answer for what horn to use… what brand to play or what bore size will work for you, etc. Arturo taught me a long time ago that the best horn for you is what matches the sound you’re going for. What feels right to you… no horn is going to “fix” range problems. YA – I was THAT guy in high school trying out every trumpet I could get my hands on thinking that there was a magic one out there that would give me super sonic range. NEVER happened…
The right gear is really what feels best to you as an individual, suits your playing concept / sound concept and is reliable.
What’s your equipment and why did you choose what you play? We’d love to hear from you!
As for worrying about what other people might think – forget it. They aren’t concerned about you. They’re too busy worrying about what you and other people think of them.
Michael le Boeuf – Author and Professor
Have a GREAT week!