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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Here are your weekly tips:
Tip #1 – BREATHE! Your Horn Doesn’t Run On Lips!
This past week I developed bad allergies due to the high levels of mold in the Austin area… good ole Austin! Try as I might to avoid it, it moved into my chest and started to affect my “full” breath, as well as energy level, etc.
Saturday night I had a “club gig.”
Side note: In my humble opinion (and it could just be my age), club gigs are some of THE most demanding shows to play because of the conditions (heat here in Texas), length of sets, and over all energy level demand.
Within 3 songs I was feeling winded – having to dance, play high energy songs, and make it appear as though I was having the time of my life, it was a down-hill battle from the start. Then it re-dawned on me… a GREAT many players play with very little air support just out of habit. How does a brass player expect to sound like any trumpet great if they’re not using air? NO WONDER there are so many struggling with sound, range, endurance, tuning, etc. Now this is nothing new for me to notice, but to struggle with breathing (something I’ve worked hard on) really reminded me of the other side again – not supporting with air (not being able to fully support the way I’ve grown accustomed to).
This week’s tip #1 is to focus on using breath support! One of the best ways I can describe an efficient breath is to make your stomach fills up like a balloon. Fill from the bottom up, when your chest starts to inflate, stop… simple! By pulling your stomach back in after filling up, you’ve compressed the air – automatically putting pressure on it to escape through your horn. Now the lips aren’t solely responsible for making the air move faster! This will automatically help your tuning, endurance, and over all sound to some degree. Keeping your lips out of the equation is for next week…
Tip #2 – The Morning After Drill
The day after a hard show is strictly a light day (if I don’t have to beat myself senseless again the next day!) and I tend to stay with pedal tones, Clarke 1 (1st page), as well as Clarke 2, 3 and 4. They all offer the lower register with good workouts for your fingers and tongue. Best part is – they really help loosen up the chops after a LONG show!
Like we’ve talked about in the past, Maynard, Arturo, Wayne, etc. view trumpet playing much like an athlete when it comes to high velocity playing. Anyone who understands what an athlete goes through, wouldn’t expect a world-class athlete to go out everyday and play their sport as hard as they can and win… REST is a mandatory ingredient for staying in shape – equal to the physical workout to help strengthen muscles.
If you perform on weekends, or on a semi-regular basis, then it’s important to understand the necessity of chops maintenance and allowing them to rest and recover before your next hard show (or face beating as I like to call it). By the way – I usually don’t even look at the horn until around 3PM the next day… it’s just too painful. HAHAHA
As a warm up routine, start with pedal tones… I switch on and off from doing arpeggios to octave drops starting on 2nd line G… I rest in between each drop, and I go as far down as I can without having to pull my lips out of the mouthpiece or “fake” it (if you will).
Once I’ve completed pedals, I rest for about 10 minutes…
Clarke 1 – starting with a metronome will get your brain in tune with timing and rhythm… not fun for most of us because we have this annoying click that’s telling us we’re off beat, but it helps lock in the concentration. Switch between slurring, single tongue, double tongue, and triple tongue… start slowly!
REST – 10 Minutes…
Clark 2 – Again with the metronome (sorry)… I set it at a “comfortable” speed to start. BUT – here’s where it gets interesting. I use an app on my iPhone called “Frozen Ape Tempo” that allows me to set it to 1/4. In other words, 1 click per measure vs. 2, 3, or 4 clicks… each click to me is either 2 or 4. So I automatically start feeling a swing rhythm and start on 1 with my foot in the air… I then play ALL of the Clarke 2 study with this setting… I up my tempo 5 clicks per run – until I just can’t keep up or crash on the harder ones… usually around 120 – 130. Hearing 2 and 4, you’re actually playing in cut-time, so 120 is really 240.
REST 10 minutes…
Clarke 3 and 4 are pretty much the same routine…
By the time I’ve completed this series, I’ve played for at least 2 hours or more on and off… depending on how many times I’ve run the studies, etc. NOTHING above G on top of the staff has usually been played, and I’ve gotten a lot of great work in without killing my chops for the following days!
“Those who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize.”
Have a GREAT week!