Great trumpet players not only know how to stay out of trouble, they know how to get into it! The issue is not if, but where. Crashing on stage is obviously not the place. The best place to encounter troubles is in the practice room. A good evaluation of the practice session will give an indication of whether there's trouble ahead or not. Honest and productive practice should include a daily assault on those pesky issues that we tend to avoid. Unfortunately, ignoring them will not make them go away, for they only become emboldened and soon grow into monsters.
"Yeah, but who looks forward to a daily confrontation with his or her own weaknesses? Should not music-making be about having fun? Trouble-shooting doesn't sound like any fun at all." Well, who promised that any career is all about having fun anyway? Actually the challenge is learning to enjoy conquering difficulties. Success overcomes obstacles, and winning requires a strategy, a plan of attack. It is not a question of work vs. fun. Our task is to organize and execute a wise practice agenda and to stay with it.
Take inventory on areas needing improvement. Draw up your battle plans, the things you will need to play to make improvements. If it's entrances, practice entrances of all kinds. If it's range, begin gradual upward and downward work. If it's too much lip pressure, then insist on less lip pressure. If it's fuzzy sound, then fix it one note at a time. If it's bad rhythm, then develop your metronomic instincts. If it's sloppy intonation, then listen and watch your tuner. If it's poor sight-reading, then sight-read. It really isn't brain surgery. It just requires an honest assessment and plan of action. Very little will improve if no plan is in place.
Signs of trouble serve to highlight our practice agenda. Let's look for trouble and deal with it.