Dr. Wurtz is a friend of mine that I haven't seen in almost 30 years. But what he has written below is the perfect starting point. I'll add my supplementary exhortations in [brackets].

Thoughts for Successful Trumpet Playing

by Dr. Gary Wurtz
Associate Professor of Music/Trumpet
SFA School of Music

  • Practice a lot! It may seem silly to say this, but do you really do it? [Exactly. Taking lessons and then practicing 30 minutes over the next week? Really? Get serious! If you're horn is not on your face an hour and a half a day, EVERY DAY,  you're not practicing, and you won't get better. That last 30 minutes is important PSYCHOLOGICALLY. Maybe I'll write down "why" before I die, but for now, just trust me. Or ask me.]
  • Practice the right kind of stuff. Fundamentals create the player. Why do you think Arban is still the most popular practice method, in so many countries, yet it was written around 1860? [Have you really analyzed the at the Practice Routine? Have you notice I haven't given you any NEW pages yet? Yes, there are MORE pages that you won't get until you can play the routine effortlessly. And they are ALL fundamentals.]
  • Be diverse. It's more fun to play trumpet when you can play anything you want. I tell my students to be prepared to be able to accept an invitation to play anywhere at anytime. I play in (or have played in) orchestras (any chair), jazz bands (as lead, section or jazz chair), brass quintets, bands and wind ensembles, studio recording sessions, weddings, as a soloist with bands and orchestras, rock, R & B, salsa, merengue and mariachi bands, contemporary Christian bands, etc. The only reason to say no to an opportunity should be that you're already busy (or it just doesn't pay enough- that is, at least eventually.) [Ditto, although I've never played in a Merengue band, but would if the pay was adequate. I've played on and off in my churches since I was 15…for free. I suggest you do the same. Need a church to play in? Not a problem. Ask me!]
  • Be a GOOD trumpet player. Once again, this should go without saying, but years of experience as a player and teacher have shown me that some players don't necessarily strive to play their best, or even believe they can! To a large degree, being a good player is a conscious decision one makes. I remember clearly the day I decided that from that point forward I was going to be a "good player." It was in 10th grade. [See and]
  • Address these aspects of your playing every day
  1. Air Flow
  2. Sound
  3. Low and high range
  4. Articulation (speed, clarity, style and multiple tonguing)
  5. Finger technique
  6. Flexibility
  7. Intonation
  8. Endurance

[Have you really analyzed the at the Practice Routine? Have you notice I haven't given you any NEW pages yet? Yes, there are MORE pages that you won't get until you can play the routine effortlessly. And they are ALL fundamentals. Didn't I mention this above? Hmmmmm??? Must be important.]

  • Take lessons (and over the course of your lifetime take a lot of them– and with different people.)
  • Play duets. It doesn't have to be with another trumpet player, either.
  • Listen to recordings. Nothing motivates more than listening to great music played by great musicians. My first record ever was Maynard Ferguson's "Conquistador" album. I can still sing every note of it (in fact, I still have it.) My next one was a recording of Maurice Andre' playing the Haydn and Hummel concerti. I still have that one too! [Have I mentioned a list of players, Youtube, iTunes, Oh yea, those names are in the Practice Routine book!! Also on the lessons page of OCD Trumpet! Click the link on the nav. bar, look for "Blogroll."]
  • Go to live performances.
  • Take a chance. (At whatever- a high note, playing fast, playing a harder piece, playing an improvised solo– WHATEVER! In order to get the fruit you might have to go out on a limb!)
  • Keep your equipment in good condition. For one thing it's only fair to everybody else you play with.
  • Play equipment that's of a high quality. (Including mutes)
  • If you are in school, pass your classes. Be a generally good student. This keeps you "eligible," if that's an issue. It gives you the freedom to go on tour without jeopardizing your standing with a teacher. Being the best student you can be has many ramifications regarding your trumpet playing.
  • Play at church. (If you go to church.) [This is my PERSONAL site, and I am not Congress, so I cannot "establish" a religion. The school district has nothing to do with this site, so I can say, thanks to the First Amendment, Go to Church! You'll be glad you did. BTW  – read the Constitution.]
  • Own a metronome and a tuner. Use them every day. Here is something you will likely NEVER hear…"I think you've been practicing too much with a metronome." [Or "your intonation is too accurate." Actually, once you've spent some time with the TUNING PROCESS I taught you (and I mean weeks or months, not minutes), you'll find that play in-tune opens the door to a new level of performance that is amazing. I can't explain it…well, of course I COULD explain it, but you won't understand it until you DO it.
  • Play solos that you can play well. Give yourself a legitimate shot at succeeding. You'll get to play the Arutunian or the Tomasi someday, but first you have to play stuff by Balay and Barat.
  • Use Vibrato (but just the right amount– don't let it interfere with the music.) [AMEN! Vibrato is a condiment. There are different condiments for each style you play. Don't use mayo when ketchup is appropriate.]
  • Keep your shoulders back, sit up straight and take a deep breath. You'll be surprised how many of your playing issues are resolved just through doing these things. [Yep. It's the FIRST THING IN THE BOOK! You do this every time you play a note.]
  • Know all of your major and minor scales, and their arpeggios.
  • Practicing only your tryout or performance music will most likely keep you from having a successful tryout or performance. Be sure to spend time every day on your fundamentals, even when a big audition or performance is coming.
  • Have fun! This is music, not differential calculus. [ Differential calculus is a dish best served cold.]
  • Be polite and respectful to your teachers. No matter what you think, they know more than you do.[Yes, I do. Unless the subject is Elvis, Madonna, The Beatles, Britney Spears…you get the idea.]
  • Take your hat off indoors. There are still a lot of people out there who are offended by the practice of wearing a hat indoors. I'll wager that if you go to watch the New York Philharmonic rehearse, there won't be a single member of the orchestra wearing a hat in rehearsal. [This is such a good reference to manners, courtesy, hospitality and chivalry. Gentlemen, you're heritage is tied directly to the Code of Chivalry, or "What Every Boy Needs to Know to Become a Man." Ladies, I'll find a paradigm for you, but for the moment – Alison Balsom. I'll post both as soon as I can.]
  • Don't be cocky with your teachers. Again, they know more than you do. [Don't be cocky with anyone, at anytime, ever. You are not the greatest player on the planet and never will be. However, I have met about 25 players who could go  into the "Top 100 Players" and they are all very kind and very humble. If you're arrogant, you're deluded! And rude, and no one wants to be your friend. And even if you're the world's greatest ever, can you rebulid a carburetor, make creme brulee, spend the day at a nursing home reading to or listening to the very old people who are lonely? Never think too highly of yourself. If you are an AWESOME player, that's a gift, even if you had to work your butt off to be awesome. And if you are my student and I find you being cocky to any adult (you "children" cn squabble all you want with each other), I will call your parents and get permission to smack you…unless they want to smack you first.]
  • Seek perfection. You'll probably never reach it, but you'll get close if you try.
  • Admit your mistakes. It's not always the other guy.
  • Do it again, only better. Practice may not make perfect, but good practice helps you improve.[Perfect Practice makes Perfect Performance, but improvement comes in VERY small increments at the FUNDAMENTAL level.]
  • Pop your valves– in rhythm! [Not only DOWN, but up as well! And LEFT HANDED – but that's only for those who really want to get better, not if you're just "pretending.]


And if you're interested in Music Education, SFA is a great school for future band directors!

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