Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:
(1) “Good Enough” Not Acceptable…?
(2) Balancing Act…
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Tip #1 – “Good Enough” Not Acceptable…?
First let me apologize for not giving fair warning that I would not be putting out weekly tips last week. I had a family matter come up a couple of states away and decided that it was better to go sooner than later. I chose to drive as I really enjoy getting out on the OPEN road and seeing the sights, being able to stop if I want (or not) and the quiet time to think and ponder. One of the things that came to mind was while listening to my vast collection of Arturo Sandoval recordings… many date back to his younger days in Cuba. You can hear it’s Arturo – clearly… but you can also tell that he’s still shaping and developing into what we hear from him today. This brought to mind a comment he made to me a couple of years ago in a lesson – I’m paraphrasing (because it really has been a couple of years), but it went something like this. “When you’re practicing and you get weary of trying to make it better, we sometimes say “good enough” and let it go. That’s when you have to push harder because good enough will never be good enough!” Now keep in mind – I can’t recall EXACTLY what he said to me, but this is what it morphed into for my own practicing. Essentially, if you’re working on anything – never settle. Keep reaching for what you cannot do / do well today… because tomorrow (someday), you’ll amaze yourself with where you were and where you are!
I think as long as we understand that practicing is an exercise in consistently practicing in a concise manner to improve today what we could not do yesterday, we can keep striving without giving up. When you give up and say “good enough,” that’s where the growth stops and the complacency starts.
Tip #2 – Balancing Act…
Range is one of the most frustrating things to work on for players… it’s a fickle girl at times – it seems to tease us with “WOW, did I just really hit / play that?” But usually leaves us frustrated and striving to replicate that “best” day once again. There are the forums and chat sites that have 1001 players discussing this very thing… ranging from try this mouthpiece to practice this new book and you’re sure to gain range. I can tell you from my decades of painful / joyful / frustrating / rewarding practice that it comes down more to HOW you practice the certain exercises after finding a mouthpiece that fits your face.
I went a smaller diameter through the advice of Maynard Ferguson… I had been trying larger and larger diameters and kept falling flat on my face! It was the best thing I ever did – BUT – that does NOT mean it will necessarily work for you. Once you understand that mouthpieces (like shoes) either fit or they don’t, you can get through the equipment phase. Every horn blows differently… I typically play the Austin Winds Stage 470 series… both my Stage 470 copper bell and the KF Lead horn (same as the 470 Stage but with a tighter bell flare for a brighter sound) play the way I’m used to. But when I pick up my Broadway (Austin Winds 466 built by Andy Taylor) it plays completely different! The balancing act changes…
Everyone talks about air support, chops strength, how to place the mouthpiece on your face, etc. These are all tiny factors that need to be balanced! Just one little tiny factor gets out of whack and you are in for a bad time! For instance… if I get nervous or stop thinking about things, I may over tighten my lips (bad habit)… and the second I do that in the upper register it shuts off completely and I get nothing… zip! Nada! If I OVER BLOW – same thing… try whistling (just your lips) a high note… now try blowing super hard… notice the sound stops and turns to spitting air? Same thing if you try to move your lips while whistling.
So before you spend another dime on mouthpieces, horns, books, gadgets and devices – check the balance between what you’re doing! And START soft… the louder you play the more pressure, pinch or over blowing you’ll most likely do!
Continuing to tell stories of shortage only continues to contradict your desire for abundance, and you cannot have it both ways: You cannot focus upon unwanted and receive wanted.”
Have a GREAT week!