Schilke note bending exercise

I first got wind of this from Renold Schilke and a little later, in greater detail, from David Hickman (Summit Brass). Since then I’ve heard variations of this routine recommended by many people. I was reminded of it again again and given some perspective by Fred Sautter (Portland Symphony) at the recent NY Brass Conference. The idea is to bend notes down from low C (Phase I), from G in staff (Phase II), from 3rd space C (Phase III), etc. In small doses this kind of thing may be a big help with your warming up. In larger doses, this exercise builds strength, brings corners forward and relaxes center pad, changes aperture shape from elliptical toward round, fattens the tone, and enhances ability to adjust pitch. Get comfortable and accurate with Phase I and II (see below) before adding Phase III–anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for […]

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Lip isometrics

  1.The first exercise consists of merely holding your lips closed, as in saying the *mmm* sound. When done correctly, this requires you to slightly roll your lips inward…Hold this position for as long as possible(you’ll eventually be able to do it for hours at a time), until your muscles begin to burn, then rest an equivalent amount of time before repeating. 2. The second exercise is like the first, except that this time, besides the *mmm* position, you should also draw the lip muscles in, toward the center of your lips(avoid an obvious pursing, however). You should feel as though your lip muscles are *hugging* against your teeth. It is also important to keep the corners where they are when your mouth is relaxed while you are doing this(neither stretched outward into a *smile* nor drawn down as in a frown). Once again, hold until the muscles develop the […]

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Sensation Theory: Range and Ear-Training

Using the Sensation Drill One of the biggest problems that all trumpet players face is that of missing the first note of a solo. If that note is above the normal range then the problem is magnified. The sensation drill ‘WILL’ solve this. The sensation drill uses ear-training by making you play a series of unconnected notes. To improve the drill once you become familiar with it try playing every other note or play backwards from the end to the beginning. As range permits the sensation drill ‘MUST’ be played an octave up to make you very secure in the upper register. Pops

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Low notes and pivot

Pivot. A key feature in maintaining an open airway is a pivot. You could write hundreds of pages about this. But that’s already been done. In a nutshell by raising or lowering the bell of your horn while you are playing you can maintain a more open airway and clearer tone. As you play higher and lower the air stream will slightly move in the mouthpiece. If we can keep it lined up with the throat hole the sound is better. The SLIGHT bell movement will produce an opposite movement or realignment of our lips to the mouthpiece. Now which way do you move the bell? I can’t tell you without seeing you play. That has to do with weither you are an upstream or downstream player, mouthpiece placement (50-50, 1/3-2/3, 2/3-1/3…..), embouchure used and relationship between the sizes of your top and bottom lip. You can determine this for […]

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Lip slurs

This is a tough area.  It depends on the playing level you are on. That’s why you’ve gotten incomplete answers. (Tongue level only is NOT true. They use the embouchure to make register changes like low to high. So the normal description you get from this group is a very inaccurate one trying to show an idea by leaving out the other factors like chops and air,) (The reason that air alone doesn’t work well until they are more advanced is because they don’t have the embouchure muscles or control to handle that technique. They blat rather than play music. This ruins any concept of tone that they are trying to develop. That’s why I teach it last.) In advanced players I take the work away from the lips and make them learn to use AIR. (Think gut slurs.) In intermediate students I focus on the tongue arch. With beginners they […]

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Trumpet and Health

I sometimes have an eye ache or my ears hurt after playing. Is that normal? I am not a doctor; however I have had some experience with eye problems. I had cataracts in both eyes and as a result had surgery. Playing correctly has not affected my eyes at all. There have recently been questions regarding high playing and eye problems, high playing and ear problems and high playing and head pains. These ALL suggest the use of too much pressure to play. I do know that it is possible to cause a heart attack or even a stroke by using too much pressure to play. Let me explain about pressure. Although mouthpiece pressure is the one that is normally brought up, there is also lip pressure and abdominal pressure. Stevens used 2 types of grips one to help break the habit of too much pressure and the one everyone […]

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