Weekly Trumpet Tips 7/22/14

The Shadow

The Shadow

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Tip #1 – Left Handed Playing

You may already be familiar with this practice method, but I find it a noteworthy practice tool to be able to pass that problem spot you may be experiencing in a passage, etc. with fingers.  This is nothing new, and is talked about in John McNeil’s “The Art of Jazz Trumpet” among other instructional / practice material.

If you’re not familiar with it – here’s how to incorporate it into your practicing.  By supporting the horn with your right hand, allow the led hand to be able to be free enough to apply your same fingers on the valves over the top of the bell section.  Now, slowly play the problem spot through.  The slower the better…

Clark Terry actually learned how to play the horn upside down – pressing the valves by moving the fingers “up” vs. down… valve tops are obviously at the bottom of the horn.

The idea behind this is called “mirroring” or shadowing.  It makes the brain think about things in a different way, and after several runs of playing the difficult section left handed, switching back should help break open your ability to gain speed and accuracy.

If you haven’t tried this… give it a chance!

Tip #2 – Practice Smart – Not HARD!

You’ve probably heard this in terms of “work smart, not hard.”  But I think the same holds true for practicing musicians as well.  It’s a known fact that if we don’t practice, we will not gain improvement in what we do – in anything.  But beating yourself senselessly in the practice room has far worse effects on the player than it does positive outcomes.

I don’t necessarily like to practice, but I’m addicted to it.  And I can easily fall into this trap as I will beat myself senseless with the same information for hours each day.  And this last round (as I talked about last week) was very eye opening.  I was actually progressively getting worse – not only in the practice room, but on stage as well.

What it’s done for me though, is cause me to re-evaluate the most efficient way that “I” learn something quickly and deeply.  I’ve polled musicians that I respect, and have found that they too need breaks.  Days  – sometimes weeks spent practicing other things such as tone, flexibility, etc.

Remember – we’re all different, and sometimes the most difficult task we have as students of this art form and more specifically, trumpet playing, is to figure out “our most efficient individual practice method” that works for us.  I’m not talking about material – please keep that in mind… I’m talking about how much, how often, when, and how you approach your practice.

“I don’t think anything is unrealistic if you believe you can do it.”

Mike Ditka
Professional Football Coach

Have a GREAT week!