Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Darts, anyone?

Which best typifies your playing, a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, or Darts? Do you tend to stab blindly in the dark when you play, or are you working on the skill of directing each note to its target? Thankfully trumpeters, like dart players, don't wear blindfolds, so there is hope.

Too often instead of a poised, focused approach on the trumpet, we hurriedly grab a few sips of air and then proceed to lunge viciously in the general vicinity of the notes, hoping to fasten them to some target. Valiant attempts? Yes. Bulls-eyes? Not likely.

Here's the game: Your air stream must simply meet the phrase head on, and remain focused for each note. So, take a good appraisal of the phrase, breathe accordingly, and release your air directly onto its targets, not above or below. If the notes were candles, you want lights out with one breath. It's probably not going to happen with a blindfold on. If you're still thinking pinata, you're in the wrong game.

You want to impress your listeners, observers, and yourself with your accuracy and control. Again, your air must meet and support all of the notes. We're not talking over-thinking each entrance or analyzing ourselves into paralysis, just putting enough air on the notes, period.

As you prepare to toss that dart towards the center of your dartboard, observe your natural instincts, and do likewise when you have horn in hand. An unfriendly game of darts anyone?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Using Swan Air

Every brass player knows instinctively all about Shotgun, Fireworks and Spitfire style air techniques. Those are what we are famous for. But few have perfected the delicate skill of Swan Air. This breathing technique is needed big time in every audition, every slow movement solo, and for keeping day jobs. We're talking very slow and steady air movement. You are to exemplify the graceful, gliding swan. Ducky Duddle splashing and splattering won't get it done.

Want another picture? Consider a single burning candle. Now blow carefully at it without extinguishing the flame. It must flicker steadily for as long as you can keep it moving. Prize for the longest flickering. Can you do 15 seconds? The longer the better, but it has to be steady. No jerks allowed.

After mastering this very therapeutic and relaxing exhale exercise, you are good and ready for those deadly pianissimo excerpts: Schumann 2, Academic, Mahler 3 chorale, etc. Remember: very deep inhale followed by your very slow release. Swim gracefully and don't make waves.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Case Closed!

Due to the summertime heat advisory, all CCM trumpet cases should look like this until further notice. No practicing permitted. Don't even think about it. Case closed!!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Roller Coastering

"Step right up. You're next. Take your seat, please fasten your seat belt. Here we go. Hold on!"

You know what to expect. Fright happens on rides. That's part of the deal. Scary goes with the territory. Oh that the ups and downs of trumpet playing could be as much fun as a roller coaster ride, but that depends upon your perspective. The key is knowing what to expect and learning from your experiences.

Ever notice how much more traumatic that very first ride on the racer is? The next one is much easier as you learn to manage the bumps rather than just survive. If you quit at first fright, you never get to enjoy. Hey, next time, hands up, no fear!

Downward plummets happen in life too. Failures, coming in second, third, or not at all, is part of the adventure. Remember that today's winners were yesterdays losers. The wise losers hang around long enough to win the next time. Precious lessons are ready for the taking for those who look to ride again. Don't go home. Get back in line.