Weekly Trumpet Tips 7/24/12

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!

Tip #1 – Just Because You’re Rowing A Boat, Doesn’t Mean You’ll Reach The Shore!

In the past few years that I’ve been writing tips, I’ve been forced to deeply think about the information I put out.  Is it accurate?  Will it really help someone else that’s walking a similar path with their trumpet playing?  One of the hardest yet most profound lessons I’ve learned was with my own practicing!  I learned that without being deeply conscious and getting as detailed as possible, your practicing won’t cause your playing to grow rapidly.

Rapid growth depends on how focussed your practice is on the details.  And the picture I got in my mind of this very thing was rowing a boat… you can row as fast and as furiously as you possibly can, but if your line of sight is skewed, or your battling a strong current without an accurate plan, your efforts will be mostly for not.

With that being said – take one exercise that you feel you can play well.  What can you do to take it to the next level?  Can your articulation be more smooth?  Can your time and approach to rhythm enhance the music?  What is ONE thing that you can do to change your playing forever?

ALWAYS have a practice plan, and understand that to make progress you have to become 100% set on working the smallest details without straying off course!

Tip #2 – Playing Everyday Does NOT Necessarily Mean You’re Practicing!

While we were in Europe, it was mandatory that I play everyday on some level.  Buzzing a mouthpiece, free lip buzzing, and playing with a silent Brass Yamaha practice mute was my steady diet of keeping my chops in shape during a 4 day break on the tour as well as traveling via bus and plane.  I did NOT have the luxury of being able to actually “PRACTICE” though.  To practice would have constituted that I sit down and actively work on something… improvisation, rhythm, fingers, tonguing, etc.  So I basically went into “maintenance mode” to sustain my chops.

It dawned on me that a great many players are only doing maintenance practice and expecting growth or improvement.  So ask yourself, are you doing the same playing daily with little conscious thought?  Or are you actively “practicing?”  I understand that these 2 separate tips relate heavily to each other, but I believe they are 2 separate topics in many people’s minds until they take a hard look at them individually.

What makes trumpet playing so difficult (aside from the misinformation that’s swirling about out there) is the idea that just blowing into the horn everyday will cause improvement through osmosis.  IF you plan on going this course for the next 2 centuries, then keep going… but if you’re looking for REAL growth quickly, push your practicing with details!  DISCLAIMER:  The word “quickly” is a relative term.  Months is quickly… not hours or days!

I wanted to give a special thank you and shout out to Matthias Isola for coming out to the show in Vienna, Austria!

Keith Fiala, Matthias Isola, Sparky Thomason


















“Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.”

Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
1934-2002, Journalist and Essayist

Have a GREAT week!