A very short blurb about trumpet technique.
One problem I think I hear a lot from young players is a timing issue between air, pulse, and fingers. All three. And it is an easy fix: be patient. Be patient on the note changes. Wait until the very last moment to move your air, your buttons, and your brain. We should be pervasively ending each and every note before the next one.
It’s like the timing belt of a car. Now, I am not a mechanic. I don’t actually have the faintest clue what a timing belt does. I could not point one out if you popped your hood. But in my mind, the timing belt aligns all the valves and pistons of the car so that they all fire when they are supposed to. Nothing crashes into itself, and your engine hums along with exactly the right timing to get you to the watch shop so you can try on that new Seiko.
Anecdote aside, don’t believe me? Try some recording some Clarke studies with a metronome and half-speed playback. If you really want to get nuts, leave your tuner on, and check out the “Analysis” function on Tonal Energy. You will find out very quickly how aligned your pistons are firing. I would venture to say that when we are having a problem and we don’t know how to fix it, this should perhaps be very high on our list of things to try.
In the quest to play more notes, higher, and faster, we shouldn’t forget that they are worthless if they don’t sound easy. When we fill out the oft-ignored back half of the notes and phrases, not only do we make it sound easier— it *is* easier, because we are encouraging flow during moments when flow is at its most vulnerable.
If you do try it, feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you find!
I have two big announcements to make. First, I am very excited to be joining the faculty as trumpet professor at Colby College in Waterville, ME. Colby has a lot of wonderful things I haven’t seen anywhere else, including a faculty orchestra augmented with professionals from all over New England, so qualified students can get hands-on training playing in a professional orchestra. There is also a fantastic new music building slated for completion in the coming months. Colby is also a short drive away from some of the most stunning beaches and islands on the East Coast.
I am also joining the faculty at Natick Public Schools, as their resident trumpet instructor. Natick is one of the best school music program in the state of Massachusetts. Bold statement, I know, but I don’t say that lightly. Over the pandemic, they retained enrollment levels and really went out of their way to keep their music program strong. This is because they have excellent, committed, smart faculty from top to bottom. I am proud to be among them.