Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:
- Chops & Weather!
- “Perfect Pitch”
Tip #1 – Chops & Weather!
Well, here we are at the turning point from cold weather (and being snowed in for some) to sunny days, heat humidity, etc. As I state every year, hydration is vital! And during the summer months, we can sweat out more water than we realize – especially if sweat is evaporating as it exits your pores.
One of the things that will help keep you out of the good day / bad day syndrome is understanding how your body reacts to heat, humidity, etc. I typically don’t function optimally when it’s hot (and humid in Texas) as it tends to cause quicker swelling on my chops as well as causing me to physically tire more quickly. Therefore, I take precautions such as drinking plenty of good clean water (upwards of a gallon per day) as well as monitoring swelling. If I get into a situation where I feel swollen from the previous day or I know I’m going to be subjected to extreme conditions I’ll take 1 Aleve. After about an hour or so, the swelling goes away. Although I don’t like to do this on a “regular” basis as it gives you a false read and can mask other issues that may be developing… especially from overplaying, etc. for days on end. But to get you through it’s a good “every now and again” idea. Any anti-inflammatory would work – just make sure that it’s one that you can take and not have reactions to.
Tip #2 – Perfect Pitch
This tip is inspired by a question that Joe Edgington wrote in about last week. First – sorry for not being able to respond to your question last week… it was kinda swamped. Joe’s question was regarding my thoughts on courses designed to help you in ear training / perfect pitch.
My thoughts are that “perfect” pitch is developed either consciously or subconsciously by repeatedly hearing a note played “IN TUNE.” Over time, we develop the sense of what note is where… the good news is, there are only 12 to memorize/internalize. The bad news is… this takes time and patience. While I can’t explain phenomena like Mozart, Bach, etc. I do believe musical development is a direct reflection of how much intent and focus we have while learning skills.
I’ve noticed that as a trumpet player, I have 2 levels of recognition when it comes to notes. The first Audible Recognition: it’s the most obvious one to most people. When you hear a note, you recognize what the pitch is… for instance when I hear a G above high C, I tend to “hear” it quickly and recognize that particular note (on trumpet). This is commonly known as “perfect pitch” to many.
The second is Vibrational Recognition: this one is where (again as a trumpet player) I “feel” the note… this occurs when I’m actually playing. In addition to this, I’ve also noticed that I memorized a certain “feel” for each note being played. So if I have to start a line on a G# / Ab just above the staff, I know what that note will feel like and can start on that note without fracking or “guessing.” I also spent a lot of time working with a tuner on every single note that I can play so that I memorized those notes “IN TUNE!”
To answer your question, Joe, I feel that we can naturally develop a sense of where pitches are by getting “in tune” (no pun intended – well, okay maybe a little) with what each note sounds like and “feels” like as trumpet players. An online course “may” be able to give you suggestions and ideas on how to go about this, but I think by spending time with a tuner (10 minutes or so per day), in time, you’ll start to have a recognition of each note. Having someone “test” you by playing a random note and having you “guess” the pitch that was just played can be a fun little game to sharpen this skill as well.