Starting with my first teacher, James Bursen, who was a VERY patient man, H.L. Clarke’s Technical Studies for the Cornet were have been a mainstay of my practice and remain so today.
Being comfortable playing in every key is important to becoming flexible. Of course, when I was 10 and Mr. Bursen told me to memorize the first five studies, my jaw dropped open. In reality, once you know the patterns, the fingerings for different keys can be learned when you are not playing the trumpet. For me that often meant when I was bored, sitting in church or class – I’d just sing through them in my head and hope that nobody saw me twiddling my fingers! By the time I hit conservatory, I had a pretty exhaustive routine with varied articulations and multiple tonguing patterns. I THOUGHT I had it all figured out – then Michael Sachs threw some more stuff at me. Between that early inspiration, my teachers’ input, and what I have learned since this simple book that has been around for over 100 years gets a lot done when practiced regularly.
Every student who takes lessons with me will eventually jump through the Clarke hoops. These simple exercises with the variations I demonstrate in this video, form a foundation for technique: dexterity, dynamics, flexibility, breath control, and more.
You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. I am 46. I don’t think of that as old, but I have been working in full-time orchestras now for over 23 years. I left school in 1998 to start working and yet, in the last three years, I have learned more about how to play the trumpet (and thus, how to teach the same stuff) than at any other time in my life!
Building accuracy and confidence: playing the trumpet (or any other brass instrument) is like shooting free throws…
Playing a brass instrument is like shooting free throws…Steve Nash is the second-best free-throw shooter of all time at 90.43%… just behind Steph Curry, depending on the week! Nash shot 90% on his first free throw and 91% on his second free throw. That one percentage point difference is smaller than the other players in the top five who were all 3-5% worse on their first free throw. The first free throw is harder because the player needs to access long-term muscle memory. Once they have shot their first, the muscle memory is pulled from their short-term memory which lends the higher percentage to the second shot.
I have met and worked with many fantastic trumpet players since spring of 2020 via Zoom: American, Canadian, Asian, Australian, Spanish, and British players; older players and younger; amateur and pro. I feel lucky to have been able to help so many people from the safety and convenience of our respective homes/countries. Even now that it is safer, I am still thankful for the Zoom interface and its ability to reach far and wide. I wanted to share some info on how you can make your distance learning lessons go smoother from a technological standpoint.