Practice
By Roger Ingram

Roger Ingram has studied with Bobby Shew, Laroon Holt, Carmine Caruso, James Stamp, Roy Stevens, Uan Rasey, Renold Schilke, and Mel Broils.


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Listening to Recorded Music
I’m assuming we all know how important phrasing and style are to being a good lead trumpet player. If you never realized this before, I’m telling you now: phrasing and style are HUGE factors. You may be wondering about various ways we can develop these two areas. The first and most obvious way would be listening to other good lead trumpet players. And one of the best ways I’ve found to do this, outside of going to a live concert, is listening to recorded music.

Now you may say, "well, I have LPs and CDs, and I listen to them almost every day." That may be true and fair enough; however, most people do not LISTEN properly. What I do when I want to "cop" someone’s style from a recording is to listen in such a way that in a sense, I am almost putting myself in that trumpet section. This is to say, I imagine pulling up a chair and squeezing myself into the trumpet section of the recording I’m listening to.

This implies listening and concentrating a hundred times harder than if I were just having a record on as background music while I’m hanging" with my friends. Now a good way to get this going, so that you can listen uninterrupted and reach this level of concentration is to first start with a very good set of headphones. Take your headphones and a good CD or record player and find a room. Get a big comfortable chair, and make sure the door to the room has a lock on it. Put on one of your favorite CDs or records that has a trumpet or horn section being featured in some sort of context. Then lock the door, turn the lights down or off, sit down in your big comfortable chair and put the headphones on.

After you’ve done this, push play, adjust the volume, and imagine yourself being THERE (studio or live date), in the section, and a part of the original recording. You can even sit there with your horn, and finger while you listen. Now, imagine all the guys in the section that you’re playing with are also hearing YOU, and listening to you play. Mock up this whole scenario in your mind and repeat various selections to your heart’s delight. While you’re listening, and imagining yourself in the section, pay extremely close attention to phrasing and dynamics. Play close attention to how the lead trumpet player is working with the drummer (if there is one). Pay close attention to EVERYTHING. Even pay close attention to the small "clams" or mistakes that your idols may make. This is the way I learned to listen to records, and it helped me develop my own style based on the styles of my heroes.

The other way to develop these two areas (phrasing and style) is to PLAY with as many rehearsal bands or trumpet section situations that you can get yourself involved with. When you play with these bands or sections, use the style that is appropriate for the type of music being played at the moment.


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Warming Up
When I'm on the road pounding out lead parts every night, all I can really hope for is "Chop Maintenance" which consists of "flapping" my chops early in the morning without the horn or mouthpiece. After that (when I feel the blood has gotten back in there), I "buzz" my chops without the mouthpiece. After I feel my chops getting a bit more focused, I start "buzzing" just the mouthpiece without the horn. After the lips start to feel a bit more limber, I'll put the Harmon mute in the horn and start playing a little tune, or some Be-Bop lines to get the chops MOVING. After that, I'll put the horn away for an hour or two and take a walk or go exercise to get the rest of my body going and get the blood flowing. After that I'll take the horn out and play without the mute up and down the full range I'm capable of for not more than 15 or 20 minutes and stop. After that it's GIG TIME!!! No warm down.

When I'm not on the road and at home just freelancing, I do pretty much the same warm-up routine I do on the road. I then concentrate on learning tunes and practicing things I don't usually play, or I'll work on things I'm having a problem with. If a player continues to practice only the things they already do well, or are expert at, they're wasting their own time and not learning anything.

I employ the method of breathing taught to me by Bobby Shew.


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Roger is available to teach clinics and private lessons.
He may be contacted by calling: 1.708.482.8153
or via postal mail to
PO Box 41211, Los Angeles, CA 90041-0211.