Weekly Trumpet Tips 7/28/15

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1) Practice GPS

(2) Mind Games & Trumpet

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Tip #1 – Practice GPS:

In today’s cars, computers and phones we all have GPS, well most everyone.  A guidance system to tell us where we are and where we want to go.  This concept can be put into use concerning our practice as well.  One of the biggest complaints / regrets I hear from a great many players is, “If I only had more time.”

Keep in mind that what GPS has done for us is save us time and frustration… it keeps us on the path to our end goal and arriving at our desired location in a timely manner without having to stop for directions, etc.  Yes – there are the occasions where GPS gets it wrong and you end up in some remote area with dueling banjo’s and folks that look less than… well, you get the picture.  But let’s focus on the trips that are a breeze.

What we need to do for our practicing is establish  where we want to be, and a mapped out logical way to get there.  Will this require a time commitment?  YES!  Will this require effort?  YES!  Trumpet playing is far from automated… because it’s a worthwhile journey!  Largely, I don’t think a lack of time is the issue for most players, it’s a lack of commitment and a lack of direct focus on practicing exercises in a certain way.  There is a saying that I have come to really understand and like!

“You don’t get great by doing certain things… you get great by doing things in a certain way!”

What this says to me is this… there are 1001 exercises that will help build range, speed, accuracy, articulation, endurance, tone, etc.  All the things trumpet players complain about not having enough of.  It’s not doing the exercises that will get you to your goal… it’s doing them properly and consistently (in a certain way) that will get you to your end goal!

So just like a GPS, set an end destination… then map out an exact route that will get you there.  If you want faster fingers and better technique, doing Clarke Studies will build that… but it’s more than just “doing” the exercises… it’s doing them slowly at first and focussing on accuracy, that will – over time – build better technique.  GPS systems won’t teleport you to your destination… neither will Clarke.  Be patient, be consistent and be pleasantly surprised!

Tip #2 – Mind Games & Trumpet

When things start to feel like they are sliding into quicksand (playing wise) it’s amazing as to how this totally helpless feeling starts to overwhelm my mind!  I know I don’t stand alone in this sensation as I’ve chatted with a great many trumpet players that have experienced the same phenomena!  To put it in real terms… IT AIN’T FUN!

My last slippage into the deep dark quicksand of self pity happened just recently, and what I did to pull myself out of the depths was I went back to a longer more “sound” conscious warm up as we’ve discussed the last couple of weeks.  Arturo is my inspiration and after watching his video on warm up (which I put in the tips a few weeks ago) I realized that I was back on the right track.  Part of what caused my issues was I had gotten in a hurry with warming up and essentially scaled way back (no pun intended).  I was causing tension in the chops from a lack of warm up coupled with the strenuous playing I tend to do.  After a week of this, I was in trouble.  Range / endurance were decreased and my sound just wasn’t something I liked hearing… hence the quicksand… I started not liking everything else about my playing.

You can pull yourself out of this rut by refocussing… analyze what your routine has been over the past few days / weeks.  My issues are typically found in this very area!  Stop the mind games and take a good hard look at your warm up / practice routine.  You may find that you’ve slipped into high note land or just mindless playing.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela
Civil Rights Leader

Have a GREAT week!