Weekly Trumpet Tips 8/11/15

Trumpet Shadow

The Shadow

Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:

(1) Practice GPS

(2) Get Out of Your Own Way!

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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 – Get Out of Your Own Way!

One of the biggest stumbling blocks I see with folks (and in myself at times) is having preconceived notions that we’ve heard or “think” is correct which is blocking any new information.  The new information may be in direct conflict with what you have previously learned / heard / believe, etc. and cause us to shut down which stops the message from coming in!  Many times we become closed minded to new concepts or real information that will create a breakthrough with what we’re trying to do because of this contradiction and that’s how we get in our own way!

I see this a lot with people who believe a big diameter mouthpiece is the best for everyone because it’s what gives you the biggest / darkest sound.  A great many “non-trumpet players” who are in teaching positions tell young students this and perpetuate information that simply isn’t true.  Not only does this set up the student for potential range and endurance issues, it sets them up for habits that will cause intonation issues as well.  It is MY belief that a mouthpiece is a tool and should fit the player… not the other way around.  We are all different and therefore have different requirements, needs, etc.

If you really want to learn, empty your mind and be willing to not only hear the answer when you ask for advice, but be willing to listen and accept the information!  If you are asking for advice from someone who is able to do something you want to do, then listen to the answers you are given…

“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.”

Earl Nightingale
1921-1989, Author of The Strangest Secret 

Have a GREAT week!