Weekly Trumpet Tips 9/9/14

The Shadow

The Shadow

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! Do you enjoy the Weekly Tips?  Please help support this site by donating here…


        Check out About Face HERE!!! Check out Secrets to Efficient Brass Playing HERE!!! A NEW Week 1 & 2 for the Jazz Improv course has been added… subscribers, please visit the course page to see this new addition.  A new week 3 & 4 will soon be posted as well… These courses are designed to be 4 weeks worth of lessons to help the student gain insights and skills in each specific area. Keith is available for clinics and as a guest artist!! Please go to our “Clinics” page for details!

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(Physical CD’s Available HERE)

Tip #1 – Over Fatigued Chops Requires More Than Rest!

Over the last several years, I have been making like a tomato and playing Ketchup (Catch up)!  What that looks like is me practicing as much as each days schedule would allow, and playing myself into total fatigue… thinking that I would recover and maintain my range and flexibility.

Truth be told, when I would recover after forcing myself to take 2 or 3 days and do very little playing, I would come out of it with a decrease in range and a loss of flexibility.  It can be very difficult to relate what we do while playing trumpet to an athlete working out and playing their sport,  but we use muscles just as an athlete does, and when those muscles are pushed beyond their limits continuously, they will weaken vs. strengthen setting them up for damage.

So what this meant for me was that I would have to go back into a very frustrating “rebuild” phase after already working extremely hard… and there’s an old adage that says “The only thing worse than going in the wrong direction, is going enthusiastically in the wrong direction!”  This basically describes what I was doing to myself continually… sounds pretty silly, huh?  But when you don’t have a mentor or a teacher to point these exact things out to you, it’s easy to make huge blunders like this!  And what’s worse is that it was never consistent, so it was tough for me to identify this mistake because I was in the middle of it.  Because I was SO passionate about improving I was obsessed – and that can be very blinding!

I’ve said this before in the past, but keep in mind that playing trumpet (even when done correctly) requires the use of muscles.  Those muscles need a work period, and an ample rest period to build and maintain strength to make playing easier.

Let my mistakes be your gain… check out Chops Rehab!

Tip #2 – No 2 Players Are The Same!

One of the most disturbing things for me as of late are running into band teachers and inexperienced players teaching lessons and spouting the same damaging information that has caused many brass players frustration to the point of quitting!  If you look at the varying players throughout history who are incredible players, no two look the same.  Something is different about each player – this can be subtle differences to vast differences, and I’m not just talking about gear!  I am a firm believer that a mouthpiece choice is a very personal thing and should be made based on the players needs, and physical characteristics.  Not everyone can play a 3C successfully – just as not everyone can play a 10 1/2 C successfully.

But when a band teacher (who isn’t even a trumpet player) starts to bark at a young student that they need to “change embouchures” because they aren’t set in a traditional way, that sends shivers down my spine and frustration through my core!  Here’s the bottom line – if the student is not showing signs of distress in their sound due to the set, then it is foolish to change things.  Here are two classic settings that make band directors spout their “knowledge.”

Setting in the red – there are some players that set in the red successfully with no sound, range, or flexibility issues.  Some people have a larger top lip offering more “red” than others.  Setting above the red in this case can cause a stuffy sound and loss of control.

Setting off center – Look at pictures of MF as a young man… he was mostly center.  Look at his playing before his death, it was slightly off to one side.  Would you have corrected him?

There are levels of extremes that may have to be addressed because of the students habits, but it has been my experience that if their sound is clean leave it be.  As the young student matures and grows, their set will slightly change.

If you’re a private lesson teacher or a band teacher reading this, the only thing I have to say is to be open to the vast physical differences between each individual…

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.

Henry Ford 1863-1947, Industrialist

Have a GREAT week!