Weekly Trumpet Tips 7/2/13

The Shadow

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 and as a guest artist!! Please go to our “Clinics” page for details!

Keith’s new CD is now available on iTunes! Click on the photo below!


(Physical CD’s NOW Available! HERE)

Tip #1 – Practice Logs – Do They Help?

For a great many years, I attempted to use a practice log on and off unsuccessfully.  Truth be told, I really wasn’t practicing consistently enough or in a structured enough way to even warrant using one.

These days, I’m practicing SO much consistently, that I was leaving things out and remembering as I lay in bed at night, or a day or two later.  That’s really frustrating at 11PM when you suddenly realize that you missed something!

So I sat down a few weeks ago, and listed out everything that I’m “supposed” to practice, and in the manner that I’m supposed to practice it.  For instance, when I do major scales, I run them in a chromatic sequence both up and then back down.  Then I connect them in major seconds, major / minor 3rd’s, 4th’s, 5th’s, etc.  And that’s JUST MAJOR!  So it’s a lot to try to remember by the time you add in arpeggio’s, modes, etc.

Do you utilize a practice log?  Do you keep track of the tempo’s that you can play things?  I’ve found that the more accurate my records, the more accurate (and demanding) the practice time becomes.  Even if you have a limited amount of time to practice, you can look at your necessities, and break them into practice groupings.

I encourage most students to only practice 10 – 15 minutes, then take a break.  That break can be a 5 minute break, or a 5 hour break… depending on your schedule.

Tip #2 – Endurance IS the Key!

I’ve preached this a few times here, and I’ll do it again – with proof!  I haven’t had a chance to sit down and shoot any videos (as promised last week) concerning actual practice routines, warm ups, etc. because of a welcomed busy schedule of playing.  Side note – it never feels like work when you do what you love.  Arturo Sandoval and MF always profess how much they love to play, and that they don’t work for a living because they are living their dreams! 

It’s interesting to me that I never really had a teacher come right out and say this, but endurance was the key ingredient that got me through 3, back to back to back 14 hour playing days without damage!  In the upcoming weeks, I’m going to put a video up describing what I’ve found works best for me, but for now I’ll give you a brief description of the way I see it in my mind now.

We’re all aware of and fall victim to “tired chops!”  No one is immune, and therefore we always dread the days where things just won’t work.  Coupled with the above Tip #1, I started running so many patterns, and doing so many exercises back to back that I wouldn’t actually stop playing until I had nothing coming out of the end of the horn… well, at least not the bell end!  Much like we’ve talked about in the past, just like an athlete needs to push passed their stopping point, so do we.  But – (just like an athlete) we have to allow for ample rest time – which is actually rebuilding time.  I did mix in some high register work, but not a lot!

So here’s my magical discovery – if you look at the average trumpet part (lead, 2nd, etc.) we play for 8 to 16 bars, then we’re allowed to rest.  The rest could be 1 measure or 100… but we’re still allowed rest.  If you time it out, we only have the horn to our faces for seconds at a time.  But when we’re asked to play for minutes without rest, we’re worn out pretty quick!  Once the facial muscles in the aperture (not embouchure) give out, then the (okay, now the embouchure) larger facial muscles have to kick in to help support the fatiguing lip muscles… and believe me – you’re on borrowed time at this point!  Once they fatigue, you’re done!  So it dawned on me… why not play until you can’t play anymore?… nothing high – just middle register things.  Then rest, and do it again.  I was amazed at how quickly things improved over all for my endurance.

My range actually has improved due to this fact.  Again – maybe it’s nothing new to some of you, but I never had anyone come straight out and say… “BLAH!”  You get the point.

“After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.”

Italian Proverb

Have a GREAT week!