How Quick To Get the Chops Back?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trickg, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Hello ladies and gents! So here I am, with the horn in my hand for the first time in a while, and I'm wondering, just how quickly can I get the chops back?

    To give a brief overview, most who would remember me on here knew that I played and gigged pretty regularly - I was in an upscale wedding band that gigged 30-40 dates a year, and it was pretty much all rock and roll horn lines. Some things happened and after last October I found myself without a gig, and with so much of my time spent behind the drum kit, my other passion in music, I just haven't really done much playing. I got the horn out for Easter for a freebie church thing, and I got it together enough to do a wedding in June, but since the horn went in the case after the wedding on June 16th, I haven't touched it - 3 full months, and really, about 10 months.

    I remember the first time I did this when I let the horn go after leaving the Army band program in 1999. I was off the horn for about 18 months during that time and it took me the better part of 6 months to get it back together where I was really feeling ok with it, (I was playing and gigging through most of that time though) but my chops were A LOT stronger this time around, and in a lot of ways I think they were much more developed than back in 1999.

    So anyway, there may be a regular gig coming up on the near horizon, so we'll see how it goes. I'll keep you posted.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  2. SteveRicks

    SteveRicks Fortissimo User

    Aug 15, 2009
    My guess: One month. Good luck.
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    After playing around some tonight (horn is in my lap as I type this) I think strength will come back pretty quickly. The sound is clear, articulations are still pretty crisp, fingers and articulation are still pretty tight, but I still fuzz out here and there. I expected that though. I think that the real challenge, and the thing that I have battled all my life, is going to be consistency from day to day, gig to gig.

    Cool - your horns list is WAY longer than you post! LOL!
  4. Pete Anderson

    Pete Anderson Pianissimo User

    Feb 27, 2008
    I think I remember you were in some ceremonial bugle corp / field band or something, and had to stand around a lot and it beat up your knees?

    I'm sure it won't take long!
  5. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Welcome back Patrick,
    I think the time it takes will be up to your inputs.
    I find the range does not drop off much, but tone and articulation does. Concentrate on the basics, and do 10 mins of scales as part of your daily work-out. Tonguing and chromatic runs, lip slurs etc will all build it back.
    Good luck
  6. D.C. Al fine

    D.C. Al fine Banned

    May 8, 2012
    Well you can do a few things, be like the young players here and just get a new mouthpiece....or 5.

    Or just play long tones, get back in the groove. It will take time, time, and time. Dont get frustrated, well you will, but dont hurt the horn. Do your best and listen to a lot of great recordings to get you focused. I know I listen to a few lead players/scream players before a big gig of mine where I will be well above the staff and think it helps me.

    Also, I make my horn/mouthpiece list horizontal so it looks like my posts are longer ;-)
  7. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Welcome back Patrick!
    I say two weeks of solid playing and you'll be back.
  8. Dupac

    Dupac Fortissimo User

    Aug 19, 2008
    Bordeaux, France.
    Welcome back, Patrick!
    We missed you all this time!
    I've always enjoyed your insightful comments.
  9. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Well, once upon a long time ago I was in the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. Here's a pic that was done at what was probably most dignitary-packed ceremony I've every done. The event was Colin Powell's retirement ceremony. Along with Colin Powell and his wife Alma on the reviewing stand, there is Bill and Hilary Clinton, George and Barbara Bush, Al and Tipper Gore, the combined Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the secretary of Defense Les Aspin is up there too. This was on September 30th, 1993, about 4 days before the Battle of Mogadishu (Blackhawk Down) that pretty much ended Aspin's carrer. I'm the 5th person from the right in the FDC.


    I hope it comes back pretty quickly. Similar to my first layoff from when I got out of the Army, I think part of why I stopped playing is that I was just kind of frustrated with the situation where I was playing, and it was more due to that (and a lack of other gigs) that caused me to divert my time and attention elsewhere. As if this all wasn't enough, I have my 18 year old son trying to teach me to play guitar too! :shock:
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Some other thoughts - I've never been one to really switch up gear too much. I'm using the Schilke B6 I picked up back around 2005 with a Schilke 14A4 mouthpiece - the same basic cup and rim I've been using since 1997 for the high-energy stuff I was doing in the Latin Band and the wedding band. I've done more playing on this mouthpiece in the last 10-15 years than any other single mouthpiece, but I have a straight Schilke 14 in the case too. That's what I used for the wedding I played back in June, but I might have been better served on a 14B. Dunno - again, I'm not one to switch up gear too much and I didn't feel like buying another mouthpiece when the ones I had were getting it done.

    As I get back into this, I'm going to hit the Clarke Technical studies, but also do some basic work on focus, tone production and articulation.

    Greg, I don't know if 2 weeks will quite get it there, but I think basic strength and usable control should be ok in about that time. I know for the wedding I played (and pretty much nailed - although to be fair it was just processional and recessional of the Clarke trumpet tune and the Mouret Rondeau) I gave myself about 3 weeks. Two weeks into it I was a bit worried because I wasn't quite hitting it like I wanted to, but things really tightened up that third week. I should have given myself a full month!

    I just wish I had the kind of resiliency and quick recovery like I had 20 years ago.

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