Friday, August 28, 2009

Trumpet Lessons - Quick Ways to Improve

Trumpet - One of the more challenging instruments to play if the trumpeter doesn't have guidance early on in their developmental years. There are a lot of myths, confusion, and misinformation surrounding playing trumpet high notes. I've heard (and have been told) stay away from the high notes because it will wreck your sound, wreck your lip, give you a jazz tone (what ever that is), or will make you lose flexibility and control.

There is nothing further from the truth if the trumpet player approaches trumpet high notes with logic and not impatience. What gets most trumpeters into trouble is either when they venture into this territory alone, or start taking advice from those that really don't understand what makes the trumpet upper register happen in the first place.

I for one, was a player who was left to their own devices in the beginning, and then getting advice from all the wrong voices! I was 25 years in before I finally started receiving information that was a bit clearer and helped me on my path to success. By doing it "wrong" for so many years, I had to force myself to learn what was causing me to miss... some of the things that I've learned were as follows...

Smiling thins the lips - causing ANY amount of mouthpiece pressure to stop the vibration

Most players pinch or roll their lips in vs. using the airstream to speed up the air

It is FAST air that creates a high note - there is no reason to strain

Playing too loudly (or attempting to play higher notes too loud too soon) will nearly guarantee failure!

Keeping the lips in a small aperture setting (see above) like playing softly will greatly aid in high notes!

If you are a trumpet player who is really frustrated with attempting upper register notes, please visit BRASS PLAYER SOLUTION for more information that can help resolve these issues!

Keith Fiala / Anna Romano

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trumpet Rentals Vs Trumpet Ownership!

When a young student or an individual gains an interest in playing trumpet or cornet, they are faced with renting or buying. New trumpets and cornets are quite expensive these days, and require quite a commitment from the player. So purchasing (or buying) new can be quite an expensive undertaking, and if you're not sure that your young student (or you) will stick with playing the trumpet, probably not the first choice.

Most usually, the horns see some abuse because they are prone to dents and dings, and require some care. They are not as fragile as a woodwind (such as flute, clarinet or saxophones). With dents, dings, and wear, they horns lose some value, so reselling the instrument will not gain back the initial investment.

With renting, upfront it seems like a better plan, but it has its drawbacks as well. For students that take to playing and enjoy it, you are paying what seems to be a small amount each month, but adds up over time. Most have a "buy out" plan so you can own the instrument, but some are tricky with they way they word their contracts... be sure to read the fine print as you may only be credited "some" of your monthly fees toward the purchase of that instrument or toward a trade up program.

Some retailers have a trade up offer that makes it sound like what you pay for your rental will be put toward a pro level horn... in a few cases, this is not exactly true... again, only a portion of what you pay will go toward your "credit". And at $24.95 per month for 24 months, you'll get a percentage of the $598.80 that you've put in.

A simple solution is to rent for a short term (2 to 4 months) and see how your young student likes playing trumpet or cornet. If they seem to enjoy it, look for a used horn and buy it outright. You can ask questions about purchasing the rental outright... if it's a used horn, you can usually get a better deal... so instead of paying $598 for 2 years, you can buy one for $250 - $350.

If your student doesn't seem to enjoy it or have the tendency to want to stay with it, then you can take the horn back at the end of the semester or school year and not be stuck with a horn in your closet!

If you'd like a FREE beginning trumpet lesson, please visit Brass Player Solution!

Keith Fiala
Professional Trumpeter
Austin, TX
Former Maynard Ferguson Trumpeter

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Trumpet & The Tired Chops Syndrome

As a professional trumpeter, I often run in to times that I play for extended periods of time, have strenuous shows, or just push too hard. Recovering from this is more than just not playing, or taking time off. For me in particular, if I take time off after a strenuous day, I come back struggling even more.

After a hard day, I really can't say I warm down at all. I will free buzz a bit depending on how tired I am, but that is about the extent of a warm down. The next day, I extend my warm up (see Trumpet, Trumpeter, & Warm Up Woes) by playing very softly for extended periods of time... if I am still feeling a bit spent, I will usually limit my playing sessions to a few minutes and will not play anything above a High C.

What I've found through the years, is that it takes time to let the lips heal. I saw times with Maynard Ferguson where he would be extremely beat up from a long run of performances. He too would extend his warm ups, but also could take time away and come back strong.

What tends to happen to our lips is exactly what happens to a tired runner, exhausted athlete, etc. Our muscles need time to rebuild... if done properly, we can bounce back stronger... if we ignore the tired feeling or soreness, we can actually do more damage by staying in a tired or "torn down" state.

If you find yourself in a situation where your chops just don't respond, and you've played hard the previous day, give your muscles the day to be relaxed by playing softly in short practice segments.

For more information that can help you in your quest as a trumpeter, please visit Brass Player Solution!

Keith Fiala

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trumpet - Natural Ability Vs. Tenacity!

Trumpet and cornet players are typical artists that are victims of misinformation and misleading necessities to be successful at their craft. All too often, trumpet teachers during the students trumpet lessons tell the trumpet players that they are lacking in natural ability and will have to work harder at this that or the other. Most often comments surround such skills as playing trumpet high notes, improvisation in jazz idioms, and musical style and approach.

I am one that does NOT believe that it requires a trumpet / cornet player (or any other artist for that matter) to be born with an extraordinary skill or "natural ability" that just needs refining. I am a trumpeter that has heard both sides of that idea! As a young player, I was really enjoying my instrument and my teachers and family would tell me that I had a "gift", etc. As I got into High School and started getting more interested in cars and girls, my practicing became more about trying to hit high notes with NO guidance as to proper technique vs. practicing skills that would help me grow as a trumpet player... that brought on comments about how you have to be "born with a skill", etc. Now that I'm older and have worked VERY hard on my current skill set, I've had people tell me that I have a natural ability once again... I can tell you that I don't! It comes down to absolute tenacity!

Maynard Ferguson was one that I got to spend a lot of time with in 2004 that was ALWAYS tagged as having a gift... he told me that it wasn't a gift, but rather a desire. Saying that his trumpet was his favorite toy as a kid!

So if you're reading this and feeling discouraged, step back a moment. Your lacking skill just requires more patience and tenacity from you... if you truly focus on your goal and practice slowly and deliberately, you can't fail! Proper guidance is a must!

That's why I wrote "Secrets to Efficient Brass Playing!"

Keep studying!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Trumpet / Cornet - Working Through The Frustration

Trumpet / Cornet players all tend to hit very frustrating times during their playing / practice life. Some of those frustrations are short lived, while others can be what feels like forever.

The term "take it one day at a time" doesn't sound like it would help and a bit cliche', but it's true. Each day is a new practice session for every trumpeter! Some players let the feeling of being overwhelmed and frustrated get to the boiling point. So all they focus on IS the frustration and they stop looking for the solution.

If this sounds like you, I suggest taking a step back and allow yourself to forget about the frustrating problem... start looking for a simple answer. Most problems only get larger or stay in our paths because we try to find overly complicated solutions. Break down in your mind the movements that should be in the action and the movements that should not! Such as - articulation. Your tongue should be moving in a Dah - Gah pattern for double tonguing... if when you're playing, your tongue feels as though it's in a different position from when you're speaking it, make it feel the same. With range, the simple answer is keep the air speed up and the aperture small without pinching the lips together.

Hope this gives some insight to simple ways of over coming the frustration!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Trumpet High Note Observations!

Take a good look at this video from the early 80's of Jon Faddis playing trumpet. There are really great shots of Jon straight on when he's playing in all registers of the trumpet. Amazing to watch how closely his lips are set, that he sets off center, and that he doesn't have to strain facially in any dramatic way to get in to the upper register with authority and power.

I've learned by observing our hero's playing trumpet high notes up close, many of the mystery's can be cleared up.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Online Cornet Lessons For Beginners

Are you starting band for the very first time this year?

Do you want to avoid most of the problems that other cornet and trumpet players almost certainly run in to? What if you can avoid those problems EASILY just by understanding a few simple techniques?

If this is you, take your first cornet lesson FREE!


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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


If you are a follower or a reader of this blog, you know that this is dedicated to all things trumpet... trumpet playing, trumpet lessons, trumpet high notes, trumpet players, and trumpet hero's!

Please visit Brass Player Solution for information that will improve your trumpet playing! "Secrets to Efficient Brass Playing" can help trumpeters understand how the chops work, why theirs aren't working, and how to make relatively quick improvements without "changing" your embouchure drastically.

If you're a parent of a beginning trumpet or cornet player and would like a FREE LESSON that will get things kicked off in right direction, please click the link above.

There will be future posts on trumpet rentals, and the best solution to entering trumpet playing without major expense.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Trumpet Lessons - Beginner Through Advanced!

If you know of someone who is just starting to play trumpet, and would like to have a first lesson for free, I have shot a 15 minute video that covers everything from lip buzzing, mouthpiece buzzing, playing Low C, Low D, and Low E... I also discuss care of the horn and a basic overview of the instrument.

Please send the beginners to Brass Player Solution

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Trumpet - Lessons in Etiquette!

As a professional trumpet player, educator, and self published author of "Secrets to Efficient Brass Playing," I have been very fortunate that the "critical crowd" has been far and few between. But what strikes me as interesting is that the truly great players never seem to brag, talk about, or have to put down other players. The ones that are busy putting down others are the ones who seem to have the least amount of talent, skill or honor to defend.

One such comment posted to one of my recent youtube videos was extremely condescending, negative, and just down right snide. My first instinct was to get angry, but then I remembered the biggest lesson that Maynard Ferguson taught me while touring with him. And that is that too many players that wish they were are too busy to improve because they are wrapped up in criticizing others... that statement alone set my heart at ease. So I got the best revenge that I could - by ignoring this comment, deleting the post, and blocking the user.

Trumpet players in general tend to compete with each other to the bitter end. I don't see this a lot with other instrument players or groups of instrumentalists. Perhaps that's why they call the trumpet players the Neanderthals of the musical world. Once a player ascends to feeling comfortable in his or her own musical skin, this feeling of inadequacy tends to fade away like a bad memory.

My best advice to aspiring trumpet players out there - don't buy in to the negativity, and if you're attacked by one of those typical "lunk heads" remember what Maynard said!!! A player that wishes they were will spend more time attacking than improving!

Check out Brass Player Solution for more helpful insight and tips!

Keith Fiala / Anna Romano