Weekly Trumpet Tips 7/10/12

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!

Check out About Face HERE!!! Check out Secrets to Efficient Brass Playing HERE!!!

ReCheck out the Chops Rehab and Jazz Improv courses. These are designed to be 4 weeks worth of lessons to help the student gain insights and skills in each specific area.

Keith is available for clinics!! Please go to our “Clinics” page for details!


EUROPEAN FRIENDS!  I will be on tour from July 2nd to July 18th performing at Jazz A Vienne (July 4), Montreux (July 5&6), Vienna (July 13).  Hope to meet you at one of these performances…

Tip #1 – How Long Will It Take?

Since being on tour with the Jazz Orchestra, I’ve been given another perspective on things once again.  Today (Sunday) especially – we took a 5 1/2 hour hike to the top of an Alp (basically).  Our lead Alto player is kind of our acting “tour guide” as he headed up the tour and made all the connections with Jazz A Vienne, Montreux, etc. and initially recommended this hike.  Today has been an off day (thank goodness a chops break!), and we were itching to get out and hike vs. being in a hotel or in a bus.

One of the options was this hike that we accomplished… most declined because of the strenuous hike involved.  Turned out, that while it WAS challenging, it wasn’t undoable by any stretch!  Once we reached the top and were headed back down, both Anna and I had this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment!  We had seen and were surrounded by extreme beauty!  We hiked where most feared they wouldn’t make it, and we did it all without asking “how much further, how long, etc!”  Never once was there a thought of turning around or stopping!

So what does this have to do with playing trumpet?  EVERYTHING!  Reread this story and replace all hiking aspects with practicing aspects.  Many times I am asked by students, if I do “X” how long will it take me to double tongue, play a G above high C, etc.  Every step we took was that much closer to the top.  Every practice session (practicing consciously) will take you a step closer to your desire.

I realized that had I kept looking up the mountain, I would have felt overwhelmed because of the incline and the distance.  So I kept the end goal out of my mind and enjoyed the journey!  NEVER once allowing self defeat to kick in…

Tip #2 – LISTEN!

This year’s slogan for the Montruex Jazz Festival is simply one word… “LISTEN” – and upon first looking at the naked male model on the poster (not pornographic) and seeing “listen” at the bottom it doesn’t make much sense.  But then when you really analyze what the creator of that poster is trying to say, it becomes VERY clear.

All too often, we spend so much time creating chatter, that we don’t “listen” to what’s really going on.  But once you allow yourself to just stop and really listen, you find new things within.

Music is story telling in a different language… you can hear what the composer was thinking, feeling, and experiencing when writing their works.  Look at Blues for instance – it came from slaves that were looking to communicate in the fields essentially in code, using African influenced harmonies, rhythms, etc.

When we perform, all too often we get very caught up in the “perfection” idea of our performance.  “Wait Fiala – you’ve written about this before!”  Yep – sure have, but this is more truth than most will recognize and it’s something else that hit me like a ton of bricks during this jazz tour.  If you step up to take an improvised solo, what are you thinking?  Chords?  Rhythm?  Or message?  Some of the greatest solos I’ve listened to started off simply, and grew into something that excited / captivated the audience.

My wife has been kind enough to record my performances (over and over).  And each performance, I focussed more on the message than the details.  I’m having a lot more fun, and I’m getting a lot better crowd response!  Listen, get inspired, and you’ll inspire your audience!

“Steady, patient, persevering thinking will generally surmount every obstacle in search of truth.”

Nathanael Emmons
1745-1840, Theologian

Have a GREAT week!