Alpine Symphony – a need for peak efficiency – pun not intended!
In high school and then college, my friends and I were constantly trying to bang out the high Ds in Alpine Symphony with varying degrees of success (and bruising of the chops)! I was shocked when I finally realized that it wasn’t supposed to be crushingly loud at figure 68, but F and then (GASP) mf on a high D… But mine would only come out at the speed of PLAID (Spaceballs reference to light-speed for those of you under 40).
For years, I thought the key was to build up my chops. I was forever working on flexibility and range and more often than not running into the same brick wall. I didn’t realize what the barrier was until very recently.
One of the things I talk with my T5 students is the idea that there is so much more to it than just the chops. My fancy name for it is integrated mechanics for the trumpet: learning to use your whole body to play more efficiently.
- Arnold Jacobs-style breathing
- Song and Wind concepts (insert hyperlink the book)
- Breathing bag and Breath-builder (hyperlinks here too) techniques for ease of airflow
- Alexander Technique and its benefits for trumpeters
- Which muscles are needed to play and which are not
- Singing – the best way to practice away from the trumpet to strengthen musical ideas and improve airflow and articulation
- How flexibility is improved by understanding the proper function of the tongue
- How various physical exercise habits have helped my playing
Here are some clips from the Sound Truth Library™ from Alpine Symphony that require focus on the techniques above to make it sound easy. Happy practicing!
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.