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!
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Tip #1 – Pain Compliance!
In Martial Arts and I’m sure “other” tactical training, instructors often talk about “pain compliance.” If you’re not familiar with the term, it basically means causing a change in behavior through pain… so when you have someones arm behind their back and lift up on it while giving them directions to walk forward, chances are “good” they will comply.
The same can be true for a painful emotional experience – for example: You step out in front of your high school jazz band to play an improvised solo… when you start, you can barely produce a sound, and once you’re in the land of no return, you miss all the changes, crack more notes than you play and for the life of you can’t get the spit out of your horn! As you look out into the audience, you see snickering, rolling eyes, laughing, and absolutely NO clapping… not even the obligatory clap… This painful experience can cause a player to NEVER want to experience that embarrassment again!
The only real way to change that memory is to allow yourself the chance to step out and try again. I’ve heard teachers say in the past that the best way to solve a nervousness problem is preparedness. But THAT’S NOT necessarily true. You can prepare and STILL get nervous. The best cure for nerves is really just repeatedly NOT walking away from the opportunity and do it as much as possible! Whether it be public speaking, singing, soloing, or performing in a section. Notice I called it an “OPPORTUNITY” – not a challenge! Every chance you’re given to face what you’re afraid of, is a chance to diminish that fear and own it.
Tip #2 – Set MICRO Goals To Inspire Progress!
As a young player, I was “taught” that there was a divisional line between “lead / screech” trumpet players and “soloists.” Oh, you can’t be both – that’s only for “those” people… So with that tidbit of incorrect information, I merrily went down the lead trumpet player path (as misguided as I was on that road too).
And because I steered my ship as far away from soloing as I could, any attempt at soloing was a pathetically painful experience! But the older I got and the more players I was around the more I saw that it wasn’t the high notes that got a player work or recognition. It was the ability to read, solo, play in all registers comfortably, and play all styles with authority!
Because improvisation had turned into this illusive skill for me, I didn’t ever really know how to approach it. And every time I started to, I sounded so bad that I gave up in a very short amount of time… until recently! I set a personal goal to be able to break through that vale of confusion, misinformation, and terror and start to become more adept at being able to solo. Realizing that “great” solos would occur with practice and knowledge, I set an extremely SMALL goal for myself! Simply – STAY WITH IT DAILY FOR ONE MONTH! As I recalled, the first couple of weeks were painful, but I noticed that as I approached week 3, the painful experience of not understanding or being able to “hear” the changes was subsiding and giving way to “wait – I actually played through that well!”
Since this time, I’ve found myself listening with a different ear to my favorite players – which has led me to transcribing solos (an important part of getting acquainted with the jazz language) and asking questions with more clarity. I have finally broken through the vail of fear and confusion and have “STARTED” down the road of being a good jazz player someday.
So my tip for you this week is that if you’re frustrated with something in your playing – no matter what it is, set a micro goal and hold yourself to it for 1 month. Pay close attention to how you approach your task, and with the understanding that everything in learning requires baby-steps, you too will be on the road to success!
“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.”
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Have a GREAT week!