Welcome to Weekly Trumpet Tips:
- Chops Care & The Summer Months Ahead
- When Band Ends – How To Stay In Shape
Tip #1 – Chops Care & The Summer Months Ahead!
For some players, school and band activities are starting to wind down. But for many of us, May brings a busy time with wedding receptions, ceremonies, and outdoor concerts. Here are a few tips to help you keep your chops as healthy as possible through the summer heat, with heavy playing demands.
One of the biggest problems I personally have encountered as well as helped students with is overcoming dehydration. If you’ve been reading the tips through the seasons, you’ll see that this is the same message (essentially) from last year on this topic. PRIMARILY because if you’re dehydrated, it becomes VERY difficult to play effectively. By drinking plenty of water throughout the day before your performance, you will ensure that you don’t reach critical levels. Dry mouth, ceasing to sweat, fatigue, dizziness, etc. are all signs of becoming dehydrated.
Bear in mind that once you’ve started down that path, it takes a bit to rehydrate effectively enough. Good preparation in advance will always help stave off the playing woes that follow right alongside not having enough fluids! And – AVOID SODA’S!
When the chops become swollen from heavy playing, here is a trick Maynard passed on to me years ago that truly helps… he recommended taking a bowl and pouring sea salt into warm water. Warm enough without being hot to the point of burning yourself… but the warmer the better (warm being key). Soak your lips and surrounding muscles in the salt-bath for several minutes. If you’ve developed a cut on the chops, switch between ice water and warm saltwater. This helps reduce the swelling and promote the healing process. DISCLAIMER… you may want to do this in private – otherwise, it looks like you’ve fallen asleep in your soup!
Tip #2 – When Band Ends – How To Stay In Shape!
As I stated above, some band is starting to wind down with the end of the school semester. If you’re not a gigging musician and need ways of staying in shape, the following tips will help with maintenance and even building.
With almost all activities, it seems like for most the minute we stop playing, we start losing. As I wrote about in “About Face” and address in Chops Rehab – atrophy kicks in within 48 hours (again – for most). So sliding that horn under the bed in its case and deciding to not look at it until August 1 is a BAD idea – at least if you don’t want to have to start from scratch with strength and endurance. We lose muscle memory in as little as 10 days!
You can maintain what you have by committing to playing for 30 minutes per day and do the right exercises. This will not increase anything – but it will help you maintain! Here’s how:
Begin with the soft tones exercise we’ve discussed in weeks past. I personally start with Page 2 – #5 in the Schlossberg book with equal rest between each 1/2 step interval cycle. Then move into pedal tones… finishing up with Clarke Studies #1 and #2. USE A METRONOME!
For actual growth in range, endurance, etc. – treat the above as strictly a warm-up routine. Rest for an hour and continue below!
Once you’ve rested for an hour or more, it’s time for the work to begin! One of the most efficient ways to help you stay “gig ready” is to set up your own practice show with recordings and music. There are several ways you can do this:
- Use Jamey Aebersold books and recordings
- Check out Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band lead trumpet transcriptions with recordings
- Ask your director for lead trumpet, 2nd trumpet, etc. parts and search out recordings so that you can play along.
Start with 5 songs… play as though you would if it were a live performance in front of an audience. Have the recordings set up back to back, and don’t take long breaks between songs. Count the rests, play all sections (coming from a lead trumpet chart stand-point) and if possible, record yourself. As the 5 songs become easier back to back, add 2 more. Perhaps write a setlist for each given day and mix up the songs. Keep adding material as your endurance and comfort level grows! If you can get enough material pulled together, interchange songs!
Also – push yourself… read harder music, take solos (Aebersold tunes work well), and don’t limit yourself to just middle register… experiment! When you get tired, stop! Listen to your chops… remember, this is a GROWTH tool! NOT a pound yourself silly for a few days and give up tool!