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 – The Art of Pacing!
It seems like each week presents new ideas and challenges for me, shedding light on great topics to write about… both good and bad experiences for me!
This past weekend was interesting (to say the least). I drove up to Dallas on Friday morning to see my old teacher / long time friend Pops McLaughlin. It had been several years since we had done anything together, and he had new concepts for a video that he wanted to shoot with a student. So – I humbly accepted and we recorded… for about 3 hours (give or take).
The main reason I was in Dallas was for another recording session that was to take place on Saturday… which it did – for 8 straight hours. I then hopped back into the car and drove straight back to Austin to play at a local club from 9:30PM to 1:30AM. All told, I had done about 12 hours of playing (on / off) on Saturday. Believe me – had I not been consciously pacing myself through the entire event, I’d be MORE than paying for it! The chops were physically sore by the end (1:30AM), but nothing that would be impossible to recover from.
Where I’m going with all of this is quite simple… what tends to get us into trouble is OVER playing… playing too loudly and forcing things. Remember something (if nothing else that I may ramble on about), when we start to push louder and louder, we are automatically making the upper register more difficult! Higher notes require faster air… faster air requires a smaller aperture, compression, and resistance. When we open the aperture to create a louder sound, we automatically lose resistance – creating slower air. The only way to regain fast air is to push harder. NOW – ALL of the muscles in your face must work harder to support that force. Your best bet is to try to use resonance in your sound for your volume vs. brute force.
Tip #2 – I’d Rather “Pay” Attention Rather Vs. Attorney!
My Grandfather always had a funny but yet eloquent way of putting things. It’s taken me YEARS to decipher a lot of what he would say, and the above statement is another one of those sayings! I’m sure at the time I was doing or saying something with little thought…
But you can place yourself in this instance with practicing as well (well, maybe not the attorney part). Paying close attention when doing something allows for us to really focus in and not miss the details. I’m sure that if everyone who were driving would be paying close attention to the driving part, accidents would be cut down by 50% or more!
So the next time you’re playing an exercise or an etude and it sounds more like the proverbial “bull in a china shop” than it does music, pay closer attention to it and make it sound more musical. Even a simple scale can sound elegant if played correctly! Don’t believe me? Check out Arturo Sandoval, Maynard Ferguson, or any other host of trumpet legends that make their horns sing! They never took anything for granted musically. That goes for “listening” as well… since our art-form is audible, listen with a fine tuned ear. You may be surprised on the nuances that you may have never “heard” before!
“To be a champ, you have to believe in yourself when nobody else will.”
Sugar Ray Robinson
1921-1989, Professional Boxer
Have a GREAT week!