I know, it’s a blatant rip-off of Gregory Bateson’s Steps Towards an Ecology of Mind. One of my favorite Gregory Bateson quotes is "The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think." On a micro-level we can apply this and other or Bateson's concepts to trumpet playing.
I like the Middle English meaning of discipline--"mortification by scourging oneself." When learning a discipline, there is usually some sort of rite involved, whether it be in following the liturgy of celebrating the Catholic Mass, practicing one of the Zen arts or trumpet playing, having a routine can help to focus us on the task at hand.
Proper breathing is a great place to start. Rowuk's circle of breath is much easier if we vocalize "how to." "How" being inhalation, and "to" exhalation. We can expand this by taking increasingly larger breaths, sort of like bouncing a ball higher and higher. I find it important to allow the transition from "how" to "to" be free of tension by not holding the breath and proper posture—holding our head as far away from the bottom of our spine as possible. If truly following the Zen model, this would be practiced to the point of being automatic before even touching the trumpet. This is the way nature works. The way people think is “you have to crawl before you can walk” or “any building needs a good foundation” or “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and the way they act is to ignore their own good intentions and blow willy-nilly into the instrument.
Once we get used to proper breathing and posture (over time a simple reminder will suffice and later it will become automatic) we can proceed to long tones.
Players complain that long tones are boring. They are boring. So?
If we work through the boredom, we’ll start noticing the way the room fills itself with sound and resonates with us. At this point, it becomes not boring at all, but a sort of transcendental experience. To gain further benefits we can start incorporating a diminuendo down to whisper quiet—it will seem as if the note is trapped in the throat of the bell. Once we get good at that, we can work on starting the note as such a ghost tone, crescendo to just below the point that the sound breaks up and back to whisper quiet.
I prefer expanding the long tones based on the Heimatton, the individual note that we cause the mouthpiece to buzz when playing medium high, medium low, medium soft and medium loud. Assuming a c in the staff as our home tone we would playc, c#, b, d, bb, etc. until we miss the highest note three times in a row. At this point we end the long tones.....