100 CONCEPTS for BRASS

100 CONCEPTS for BRASS
compiled by John Julian

The following ideas and concepts are playing and practice suggestions from many different teachers. They are not intended to provide a complete system or philosophy of playing. Refer to them when you practice.
Practice – Each and every day we build upward from tone production, adding other techniques and skills to the foundation. All must become habit or "reflex" – automatic and stemming from the subconscious. Then performance can be dedicated 100% to communicating the music, rather than focusing on overcoming technical demands and physical obstacles. REMEMBER – "MUSIC" is our ultimate goal.

1. AIR is the most important physical aspect of playing. It is of ultimate importance in establishing all aspects of performance. Breath correctly – deep, full, relaxed – using an "OH" sound on the inhale, before every attempt.
2. AIRFLOW = "WIND." The necessary element for sound, control, dynamics, register, ease and comfort, phrasing, etc. Trumpet is a "WIND" instrument – WIND is "AIR IN MOTION."
3. Allow the air to flow freely through the horn – not "into" the horn. Let resistance and airflow balance into an harmonious and symbiotic relationship.
4. The air is a continuous stream, it never stops (unless you have a rest).
5. Do not blow "hard" – blow "freely,' like a flute.
6. Allow the air to "blow the embouchure into place” (assuming your embouchure is set correctly).
7. LET THE AIR DO THE WORK. NOT the lips.
8. After inhaling, immediately turn the air around to begin playing. Do not indiscriminately set abdominal tension prior to the start of the note. Concentrate on the pitch and the airspeed necessary for that pitch. The speed of the airstream will tighten the muscles "just enough".
9. THE QUALITY OF YOUR SOUND DEPENDS ON THE QUALITY OF YOUR AIRSTREAM (assuming your embouchure is set correctly).
10. Maintain total relaxation in muscles that aren't being used: AIR + RELAXATION = SOUND, Big and pure.
11. Use less air pressure but more airflow.
12. Freedom of tone and relaxation are maintained by using copious amounts of air.
13. Moving air is the source of power and endurance.
14. "Breath to expand" – not "expand to breath." Body expansion is the result, not the cause, of moving wind.
15. Visualize the air as WIND: move wind in and out – it's always in motion!
16. Imagine using "thick, fast air" to get more air moving with less effort.
17. Inhale at the corners of your mouth. "Sniffing" is for dogs. (There are applications for "nose" breathing, but don't use it unless you know "why" and "how" to use it.)

EMBOUCHURE:

18. Use only one embouchure. It is capable of playing from double pedal C to double high C without changing your set. Some players consciously or unconsciously make a change when going to the upper (or sometimes lower) register. This is unnecessary. And what if you have a phrase that takes you from low G to high D or vice-versa? You can't shift to a different set in the middle of a phrase. (Well, you probably could, but how would it sound? If you can do that flaw, congratulations!
19. Again, allow the air to "blow the embouchure into place." That is, the embouchure should respond to the air, NOT the mouthpiece.
20. Your embouchure should be "natural." Do not "manufacture" an embouchure, your natural facial position is the strongest position.
21. The only job of the lips is to vibrate. Fully, freely and relaxed.
22. The strength of the embouchure is in the corners, which focus the aperture. The middle stays as relaxed and “springy” as possible to respond easily to even the slightest change in the airstream.
23. Get the feeling of playing away from your teeth to minimize pressure and maximize vibration.

24. Lips stay formed but relaxed until activated by the airstream. Do not pre-set tension, let the embouchure respond to the speed of the air.
25. Let go of the embouchure as a controlling force – trust your air and your ears!
26. Rather than controlling with the chops and pressure, allow a balance of efforts of airstream, corners and "vocalization" (tongue arch and oral cavity) to provide security.
27. "SING" with the lips as your vocal cords sing. Air is the tool to make it happen.

PEDAL TONES:
28. Pedal Tones are of the most benefit if they are practiced without an embouchure change. Any shifting or distorting of the embouchure will cause problems. The jaw may drop a bit, which is fine.
29. Let pedals “grow” from your normal embouchure, and use a lot of air. Soft pedals feel good and are a comfortable way to warm-down, but won't help you develop the air and chops to help your playing. (Moving a lot of air doesn't mean honking like a truck horn!) Eventually, you will develop a feel for the “slot” on these notes just like normal pitches on the horn.
30. Pedal tones practiced properly can help promote the relaxation of the portion of the lip inside the rim, thereby enabling a more relaxed and vibrant sound. They are also useful in high register development as the counteract the tendency toward using extra tension when ascending. Not every player practices pedals, just as not every player practices mouthpiece buzzing. Every player, with the help of a good teacher, should work on them and see if they are valuable. Donald Rinehardt, as I understand from his students, forbid them. Claude Gordon demanded them.

SOUND:
31. Focus your sound to a point far away from you….where the audience is.
32. Always aim for the "core" of the sound, the “RESONANT CENTER of the PITCH,” where airspeed , lip tension, wavelength and resonating chambers are matched perfectly. When this is achieved, the sound will "jump" out of the horn with maximum resonance and minimal effort. (Effortless Effort.)

33. Imitate the sound of a great artist. What do you want to sound like? Take examples from the great players and work to attain that sound.
34. Your brain is your best practice tool: in your mind, hear the sound you want, then allow your body tore-create that sound. Without a clear mental “picture,” your body has no target to guide your efforts. How you want to sound is the chief control point for all you do.
35. Work to produce different tonal colors at varying dynamic levels.

TONGUING:
36. The tongue is used to articulate music just as it does in speech – to make clear the meanings of words and phrases. Let the tongue shape attacks to clarify meaning.
37. Use the tip of the tongue, striking approximately where the upper teeth meet the gumline. The tongue will attack lower on the upper teeth for lower pitches, and higher up for higher notes.
38. Concentrate on using the front part of the tongue for articulation. Minimize motion to allow for faster tempos and more precise attacks.
39. When playing rapid tongued passages, try the "d" syllable rather than "t" for faster, more relaxed motion. Use T for attacks that need a more aggressive style.
40. When multiple tonguing, keep the "k" (or "g") and "t" (or "d") as far forward in the mouth as possible.
41. When tonguing the motion of the tip is "up and down", not "back and forth."
42. The tongue arch is useful for playing intervals, for flexibility, intonation, range and tone color. It is a necessity for fluency.
43. In any articulation, the tone is carried by the vowel sound AFTER the attack.

RANGE:
44. The upper register is an extension of the middle register. Development depends on a strong foundation of basic physical skills and gradual, systematic development. You must have a long-range plan for development, and use it consistently and intelligently! (See “Range Development”.)

45. As you go higher, think of blowing each note farther away from you. This will help you speed up the airspeed, keep your corners together and keep excess pressure off your lip.
46. "Train" the upper register. Brute force won't make it happen. (see “Range Studies” for instructions.)
47. When ascending, think of bringing your lips forward toward the mouthpiece, NOT stretched back into a smile. BE HAPPY, but do not smile when playing trumpet.
48. Again, the upper register depends on airspeed and the embouchure resisting the air. The embouchure's job is NOT to resist the mouthpiece.

PRACTICE:
49. THINK! Your brain is like a computer. You must input data, process it, store it, refine it, re-process it, restore it, over and over again. No thinking = no music and a lot of frustration!
50. So train yourself to think, process objectively, relax and enjoy learning and playing.
51. When you are assigned and exercise to be used in your practice routine, ask yourself these questions:
• What kind of exercise is it?
• What is the purpose of doing it?
• What can be expected in the way of progress?
• How do I know if I am doing it correctly?
• What should it sound like?
• What should it feel like?

52. Use a metronome to always keep perfect time to synchronize muscle movements.
53. Use a tuner and a pitch training program such as http://www.tuneupsystems.com/
to train your ears.
54. Work on your weaknesses. Enjoy your strengths.

55. Practice fingering without actually playing. Save your lip by learning the fingers perfectly up to speed before you play.
56. Left-handed practice: For any given technical passage or exercise, switch hand positions and learn it with your left hand. Learn it flawlessly, percussively and up to speed. Then switch back to your right hand. Work it up to speed perfectly, percussively and flawlessly. Then, relax your fingers and play the passage. If there is still a finger problem, repeat the process until you have it mastered. THIS WORKS! USE IT!
57. Muscle Memory: most of what we practice is for muscle memory, which requires many, many correct repetitions. If you played it once correctly out of 10 attempts, you have a 90% chance of missing it the next time…
58. FORTUNATELY: by practicing “SMART,” you don't have to play anything “incorrectly.” Yes, you will occasionally destroy a passage, but it never has to be a habit.
59. PLAY AGGRESSIVELY, with abandon and courage. Never wimpy or apologetically.
60. Allow the music to determine your mental state and your physical actions. When a change is required, let the music provide your direction. Do not employ a predetermined degree of muscular movement.
61. Apply "Effortless Effort" – Use only the amount of energy necessary for a specific task, thus reserving energy for interpretation, endurance, volume, etc.
62. The feeling of playing should always be one of a constant outflow of energy, focused forward, through the horn, to the audience.
63. Practice for "ease" of playing. No matter how much raw energy we must expend, we must be as relaxed as possible and waste no energy on isometric tension.
64. Observe your playing for what it is. Don't make value judgments. Analyze objectively.
65. Eliminate your ego from the playing process, thus eliminating much fear and frustration, false pride AND false humility which can blind you to your true abilities.
66. Maintain TOTAL concentration – or go do something else. Come back to the horn when you can dedicate yourself 100%
.
67. Aim for tangible results in each session. Have goals in mind, and a plan to meet them.
68. Isolate to solve problems, but put the resolved problem back into its original context. “Isolate, Remediate then Integrate.”
69. To repair a problem, concentrate on the desired result as a new, added dimension of your playing. Do NOT think about "the problem."
70. The trumpet is an extension of the performer. All that happens in you is reflected in your playing.
71. REST AS MUCH AS YOU PLAY WHEN PRACTICING. Don't play when your face is fatigued. Compensation will cause the formation of incorrect habits. The worst case scenario is that you damage the nerves in your lip, as I did, and then you can't play…ever.
72. Stop playing when comfortably tired and still playing well.
73. Practice until each task is MASTERED – completely under control and "easy".
74. Do not settle for “almost.” If you can't play it 10 times in a row flawlessly, you don't own it yet.
75. Mastery builds confidence. You can't really play a piece (exercise, excerpt, etc.) until you reach the point where you no longer have to think about technique, air, embouchure or anything other than the music.
76. Trumpet Playing is a highly refined physical skill, as well as a musical art. Train physically as an athlete, but play from the heart as an artist.
77. Just "going through" exercises or studies will not develop your abilities. You must have a clear mental picture of what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to achieve it.
78. Have both short and long range goals for achieving your objective.
79. Performing on any instrument is a matter of physical, mental and artistic growth, NOT push-button technology. Build and mature gradually and consistently.

MUSICALITY:
80. Always play $500 notes, not 50 cent ones.

81. Each note and phrase, whether in a drill, exercise, etude, solo, orch. work, etc…is a part of a larger idea. Play in context.
82. ALL MUSICAL CONCEPTS MUST BE CONCEIVED MENTALLY BEFORE THEY CAN BE BORN SONICALLY.
83. Move artistic goals to the foreground of your playing. Play "songs", not notes.
84. Make up a story or words for whatever you are working on. Be a "storyteller".
85. Music is always "on the move", going somewhere. Keep your sound and phrases moving forward to the logical melodic and/or harmonic conclusion.
86. Find the "target note" in every phrase, the one that seems to be most important. Slightly crescendo toward that note (or greatly if called for!) and decrescendo away from it.
87. Plan your breathing so that you do not interrupt musical sentences.
88. The way you practice is the way you will perform. Repeat that to yourself about every 3 minutes during practice sessions.

General Concepts about Success:

John Wooden
Visit http://www.coachwooden.com This is not a suggestion. Do it!

89. “Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result if self-satisfaction in knowing that you made your best effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
90. “Industriousness? In plain language, I mean that you have to work – and work hard. There is no substitute for work. None. Worthwhile things only come from real work.”

 

Vince Lombardi
Visit http://www.vincelombardi.com/ This is not a suggestion. Do it!

91. "Coach Lombardi showed me that by working hard and using my mind, I could overcome my weakness to the point where I could be one of the best."
— Bart Starr
92. "You might reduce Lombardi's coaching philosophy to a single sentence: In any game, you do the things you do best and you do them over and over and over."
— George Halas
93. “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. “

RANDOM GREATNESS:

94. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill
95. "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss oif enthusiasm." – Winston Churchill
96. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
97. “Your ability to learn faster than your competition is your only sustainable competitive advantage.” – Arie de Gues
98. “I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. “ – Michael Jordan
99. '”Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
100. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”- Robert F. Kennedy

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