Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by dbacon, Nov 13, 2005.

  1. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    I gave this advice to a fellow TMer about learning away from the horn and/or reserving chop-time. I thought this would be a good place to post it.


    Don't waste your 'chop time' working on counting (but definitely have a metronome handy). When it comes to transposition practice, learning a new piece and learning rhythms, do it all with the horn off your face first. Play "air trumpet" (like air guitar) and just correct those things with your trumpet in your hand and brain fully engaged while executing all of the fingerings, but not playing. You can also work on your breathing and hearing in your head what you would like to sound like while doing this.....all while not playing a note. THEN you can reward yourself with something that you are comfortable playing (where you believe you sound your best and are confident with the piece or song or whatever you decide to play). THEN go to the pieces you practiced on "air trumpet", this time really playing, and apply the brain and finger work you did while practicing. While in graduate school, I learned many of my etudes with the horn off of the chops first. I at least ran through them a few times in my mind before doing them on the horn. It is a good way to conserve chop time for more rewarding work and it also helps us develop our focusing and musical awareness skills.

    Also, for all of you living in apartments or those who travel a lot, this is a way you can practice in what might seem like an impossible environment. I even learned etudes while riding the 1/9 train and taking the Staten Island Ferry in NYC. Everyone else had their newspapers and I would have my etude books handy. Boy, am I a geek or what? LOL.
  2. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    this is the biggest problem i run into with kids. but it is true really listen and be demanding of yourself, dont accept even one note that has a crappy sound. the balancing act for me though is to be that demanding without tying myself in all sorts of knots, throwing fits etc. working on that with counselor though
  3. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    great post alex. i remeber in brass pedagogy class the principal horn of the lyric opera came in and talked about learning how to practice on the job and these types of things. i used to practice clarke, and scales on the el in chicago and will still unconciously start to finger practice clarke at times and in the process drive my wife nuts with it.
  4. Billy B

    Billy B Pianissimo User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Des Moines, IA
    Be kind to yourself. Lose the words "good" and "bad" and replace them with "right" and "wrong". Stop judging yourself.
  5. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Or..."what I wanted" and "not what I wanted". The next step in that sequence is "What do I want?" Followed immediately by "Where am I in relation to that and how do I get there?"
  6. Deecy

    Deecy Pianissimo User

    Aug 8, 2005
    1) When you're resting your chops don't sit idle. Finger the Db scale or the B scale, with the horn down - and slam those keys down. Listen closely to hear if 2 keys are hitting bottom at the same instant!
    2) Put more of your upper lip into the mouthpiece.
    3) Push your right elbow forward (away from you) a little: it'll get your 2nd and 3rd fingers closer to the valves and balance up the relationship of all 3 fingers to the 3 keys. (This only if you finger with hand curved and use the fingertips on the keys as I do.)
    4) Forget about where your tongue is. It's the cause of more hesitancy than anything (IMHO). Your mouth will do what it has to as you play higher. Trust your body. Think about singing. Think about hitting the far wall with the note. The simple truth is that notes above the staff simply can't be given voice unless the tongue is where it's supposed to be. If the note comes out, it's in the right place. So forget it. Put more upper lip into the MP instead.
    5) Learn the lyrics to every standard you plan to learn. Sing them mentally as you play the melody. "The sonnnng a robin sinnngs . . ." (Stella by Starlight - 1st note is C). Listen to Miles's version(s).
    6) After you learn all the chord changes for a tune and can play the melody in your sleep and play also the chord changes one chord-note ber beat, 4 chord notes per bar, move it up a half-tone and learn it there. It's axiomatic that the hardest keys are right next to the easiest ones.
    7) When you first pick up the horn squeeze the corners tight and try to play very, very softly but with a great deal of control and pressure behind each note. Feel the pressure pushing against your pucker. Put more upper lip into the MP.
    8) And next to last but not least, put more upper lip into the mouthpiece. And oh yes! Try holding the horn straight out in front of you, hold it parallel with the floor as though you were marching in the Mummers Parade. I know it's not *cool*, but you can hold it like Miles did when you're as famous as he was.
    9) If you use your curved finger (tips) on the keys like I do, try rotating the trumpet on its long axis slightly to the right - say, about 10 degrees. Places both hands in a more natural position. I don't know what to tell you if you use the flat part of your fingers on the keys except that it's a bitch to un-learn. Take a look at all the movement in your hand when you finger that way, then hold an imaginary tennis ball in your right hand, press a key with the ends of your fingers and see how many fewer hand parts are in motion. It's gotta be faster! Fewer moving parts.

  7. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    Yep, yep, yep Billy B and Tpter1......that is how the thinking should go. Always thinking positively about the improvement you want to make and moving forward instead of "criticizing" yourself and lingering on the negative. Easier said than done sometimes, eh?
  8. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    Great advice and points in your post Deecy. Thanks for taking the time to put all of that down.
  9. dbacon

    dbacon Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 24, 2003
    Scottsdale, AZ.
    In performance have a really bad memory........if you miss something, forget it right away and just play the next thing great!!
  10. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    dbacon wrote:
    I agree Dave.

    A short story....
    A friend of ours is one of the original Funk Brothers in the Detroit area. My wife grew up a couple doors away and would play music with him as she was growing up.
    When he released a CD a little while ago we listened to it and my wife said
    "Are you happy with the CD?"

    He replied "That's the way I played that day."

    I always think of that when I play.


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