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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (4/9/12) 12:06am - ... wherein Peter has another trumpet lesson.

Finally got around to another trumpet lesson with Josh Davies.  As usual, I'm writing down my notes from the session.

* Playing the C-major scale:
        * Don't worry about hitting any partials *above* the C-major scale.
                * Focus on making the existing C-major scale beautiful. 
                * If you get the existing range of notes under control, with good, predictable technique, efficiently, and beautiful, then the higher partials will come.
                * If you play lots of higher partials badly, you'll just learn bad habits.
        * Avoid stagnation.
                * Even if you're playing C-major over and over, focus on how to make that sound *better*.
                * Keep picking out what sounds crappy in the notes you play.
                * Keep changing up what you do to fix those problems.
                * Play with a regular rhythm.
                        * This will help make things more deliberate.
                        * This makes it more noticeable when you're having trouble *finding* a note.
                        * It'll give you practice at hitting the notes at the exact right time.
                        * And make sure you're really hitting the beats on your transitions
                                * You have a habit of ooching ahead of the beat.
                                        * Don't do that.
* Don't cross your legs while playing.
        * It reduces the air you have available.
        * Similarly, don't lean forward *to* the trumpet.
                * Just sit/stand comfortably, and 'let the trumpet come to you.'
* Don't make your lip muscles do the work.
        * Draw back from that tension.
                * Especially on high notes.
        * The work comes from *supporting* air with your diaphragm.
                * If tension goes anywhere, it goes into your diaphragm, *supporting* those notes.
        * To hit a note, just hear the note in your head, provide sufficient air, and your lips should just 'figure out' what to do.
* Hitting high(er) notes:
        * On high notes, let your teeth separate
                * This lets sufficient air out.
                * Make sure you could always fit a finger between your teeth.
        * Lift your tongue to hit higher notes
                * Just like with whistling higher notes.
                * Focus on keeping your embouchure the same on high notes.
                        * Don't tense up.
                        * Don't move your lips around.
                        * Just lift your tongue to get the air moving faster.
                                * And provide more air.
* Note that you need a wider *volume* of air when you're playing notes that include that long third-valve tube.
* You're hitting a lot of double-buzzing.
        * This is where you wind up with two distinct spots on your lips buzzing at the same time.
        * Typically they'll buzz at different frequencies.
        * Those frequencies will then 'compete' for the note.
                * Not good.
        * Often, just better air support will knock out the second buzz.
* Do a lot of work just on the mouthpiece.
        * This especially lets you home in on double-buzz problems.
        * Try to play melodies just on the mouthpiece.
        * Keep at just playing a note on the mouthpiece until it comes out clean.
                * Get to a point where you can hit that note cleanly and consistently, without having to work to 'find' the note.
        * This requires consistently hearing the note in your head first.
        * Note that you can keep a mouthpiece in the car & practice on it.
* Play in tune.
        * Focus on hitting 'the middle of the note'.
                * You can actually slide above and below the middle of the note, just playing the same fingering & partial.
                        * And *then* you can find the center.
        * You can drone a reference tone to get this.
        * The tuning slide:
                * Play a C at the horn's 'natural' pitch, and compare it to a reference tone.
                        * Then, adjust the slide 'til they match.
                * Usually your tuning slide is slid out by about the width of your fingernail.
        * Also remember that you've got a third-valve slide to adjust those notes.
* A useful acronym:  SAFARE = "Sound, Articulation, Flexibility, Agility, Range, and Endurance".
        * These are the areas a well-rounded trumpeter should always work on.
        * A hard-core student will have several books they're working from for each category.
        * You might put a few exercises under each, eventually.
* Other things to try:
        * Keep improvising melodies on the horn.
                * Again, focus on making your tone as beautiful as possible.
        * Find simple simple music you can sight-read.
                * Remember, a tie between two different pitches => don't re-articulate the second note.
                * Start working through some simple sight-reading études.
                        * Or sight-reading simple piano music.
        * Practice playing named notes on command.
                * Including accidentals.
                * Get to the point where you stop panicking about that.
                * This should just be memorization -- maybe use flash cards?
                * Meanwhile, make sure you hear the note in your head before you play it.
                        * Perhaps practice drilling intervals so that you can hear them in your head.
                * If you're lost, then just walk to the pitch.

Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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