Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lip Tension Kills Your Range!

A brass players range is one of those skills that frustrates most of us! We work hard to improve and sound like the hero's we've all followed from the time we first heard them!

Most of the information out there is about air, air and more air. Though this IS a vital ingredient to playing, it is NOT the overall answer. When a player has no clue what role the lips play, it's easy to fall into a routine of bad habits that cause frustrating inconsistencies!

Several things that must occur from the lips at once would be...

1) Small focused aperture
2) Relaxed enough to vibrate but supported enough to achieve the note
3) Set close enough to allow air to pass through, but not too far apart to not generate sound.
4) NOT move as the range increases...

By reading "Secrets To Efficient Brass Playing" you'll understand in depth how the lips play a vital role and cannot be overlooked when playing a brass instrument!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Food For Thought For Trumpeters - Why We Fail

I am at a very intense seminar covering aspects of things that most musicians know very little about... business! It has occurred to me why so many musicians (at least in my local Austin, TX area) tend to be forever doomed to haunt the halls of clubs, wedding bands, and bars. If a musician musters up enough time, money, energy and courage to put together a CD, they think the hard part is completed once the CD's are pressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am no different... I put out a CD in 2002 with visions of grandeur. What I lacked was belief in myself, belief in my product, and the know-how to promote myself. So ultimately, I ended up with about 100 sold (family and friends mostly) and about 900 in boxes. I was a failure.

What is funny though about this, is what to do with those failures... Michael Jordan said that he's missed hundreds of shots, lost multiple games where the final shot counted on him solely, but what made him succeed was what he did with those failures. He turned them into successes by learning from them and driving forward without looking back!

Trumpet players are no different... missing a high note, fracking a line, or screwing up the chord changes / rhythms, etc. can tend to make us run for the safety of our nearest rock to crawl under. Stand up, admit your share of the mistakes and move forward. Anyone left behind talking about YOUR mistakes is intimidated by you and is only trying to slow you down from their own fears...

Move forward!!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why Brass Players Struggle With Range

Being one of the many brass players who was confused, frustrated, and just simply lost when it came to real range and high note efficiency, I decided to not only fix my problems but bust the myths behind equipment, tactics, as well as technique.

I spent the majority of my playing life on larger mouthpieces (5c, 3c, etc.). I was able to work my range up enough to "touch" the coveted Double C, but never enough to own it. Once every so often I could eek it out... but had no power, control, or guarantee of "hitting" one if called to do so. When I toured with Maynard, I had multiple opportunities to talk with Boss about this very subject. His solution was air usage, but when there was a mass confusion with chops, equipment, and everything else on the dark quest was a mystery, that just didn't make sense to me.

Do you feel the same way? Are you so confused by all the information out there that nothing is making sense (no matter how logical it may sound) that it's just not allowing progress? That's where my book comes in. I try to relay to the reader my confusion, misunderstanding, and then the discovery of what really made things improve. Pretty simple answers - and helped me see where Maynard was coming from.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Stiff Lips Equal Big Problems!

For years, my biggest problem with playing in general was pinching my lips to the point that they were stiff as boards. I've also run into issues where while "playing hard" I would tear the outer layer of skin on my upper lip on the right side. It started happening in high school and has plagued me for years.

What I noticed (after years of self abuse) was that when my lips were stiffened to play in the upper register, they would lose the elasticity and eventually tear under the immense strain from the vibration. Kind of like a rubber band being stretched to its maximum length while someone strums or "twangs" it. They eventually snap!

Here's the fix - it's a change in habit, so the first few times takes mindful practice... by relaxing your lips and allowing them to vibrate in balance with your airstream vs. adding tension and not increasing the amount of air. Most brass players tend to pinch their lips to increase the range vs. push more air. If we can turn that around, we can play with greater efficiency, sound, power, and ultimately - control!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Large Trumpet Mouthpieces

One of the things that I'm finding is the most confusing topics as well as the least understood is mouthpiece diameter size vs. cup depth.

I have a great number of students that come to me complaining of poor range, air induced sound, and weak endurance. People who practice on a regular basis and do the assignments given to them... not able to understand why they're not improving in these areas.

Most of the problem may lay in a mouthpiece that is too large diameter wise. What I've discovered is that cup depth (or volume) is what can adversely affect a players tone, range, articulation ability, as well as endurance. Younger players tend to gravitate toward similar diameter mouthpieces with shallower cups. If a player would rethink this, perhaps even look at the physics of it, they may find that a smaller diameter cup would require less strength as we end up with less muscle / lip mass in the mouthpiece itself.

This in no way "fixes" all of the inherent problems we tend to face, but it will certainly put the right size shoes on the runner!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Secrets of the High Note Trumpet Range

Are you a Trumpet player that has been captivated by the energy and power of the high note range? Do you remember the first time ever hearing Maynard Ferguson, Cat Anderson, Bill Chase, and the many more that have created the mystique and desire to play in that range? Can you also recall the nearly immense feeling of confusion after attempting to play in that range for the first time? Not only does the high note range on the trumpet create energy, but it demands it from the player! Focused energy from what feels like every molecule in your being!

As a trumpet player, you've probably heard comments like:
"That trumpet player has got really strong chops to be able to play high notes like that", or "keep your throat open!" Statements like this can add to the mass confusion of how to achieve the high note range as well as a warm sound, hours of endurance, and efficient use of the energy that you put out.

To help lessen the confusion and answer those compiling questions of "how", I've written about my experiences... from my total confusion throughout high school and in to college, as well as my quitting for 2 years (because of the feeling of absolute defeat) to my come back and touring with the legendary Maynard Ferguson in 2004. I share with you what worked for me as well as what did not. I feel that it was just as important to know what I was doing wrong and why it was hindering me back as what I was doing right and why it was working.

My book is a download format available at once you go through the Pay Pal process, you will receive an email with download instructions. It does not stop there - I also include 2 video's that help further clarify what I'm talking about in the book. I learn more by example... so I pass this on to my readers.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

arrow Why am I not improving?

arrow What areas of my playing do I fear the most?

arrowAm I about to give up because I feel like I just can’t do it?

Now be honest with yourself and answer these 3 questions:

1) Am I practicing the right material in the right manner? Taking mental breaks as well as physical… or are you focusing on what you practice mentally?
2) What caused me to fear aspects of my playing? Because they were difficult at first?
3) Am I about to give up because of a lack of support? OR interest because I am not finding instant gratification?

Are you ready for a change??

If so, click HELP ME now!!