Thursday, October 12, 2017

TRUMPET, Trumpeter & Warm Up Woes

Are you one of those trumpet players that pulls the horn out of the case, jams the mouthpiece in and just starts playing?  Or are you a trumpeter that carefully plots out the next hour or more for a warm-up routine that requires you to perform something of a circus act musically?

Most players who have been in private trumpet lessons have had an instructor sketch out a warm-up routine for them.  My question is - do you know why you're doing what you're doing?  What is your warm-up supposed to do for you?  It's certainly not supposed to make your lip swell up like a balloon or feel stiff as a board by the time you're done.  In fact, your warm-up routine should help you to relax, breathe deep naturally, and help to center your pitch, sound, control, and ability to play in all registers easily and comfortably.

If you're not already doing so, you should think about what your playing needs and goals are for that day.  It should also be taken into consideration as to what yesterday was like.  Was it strenuous?  Was it light?  Did you play at all?  This all can impact how long it will take you to warm up and what you should be doing for a warm up.  Something again that most players don't consider.

Below is a routine that I use during a typical warm up... most days I play for 4 or more hours and usually push pretty hard... so my warm-up starts VERY easy.

*  I start with long tones very soft... usually starting on a 2nd line G - how long depends on how my face is responding to the horn.  Usually I play this note on / off for about 3 to 4 minutes.  I focus on my breathing during this process to help get my air moving.
*  Once I have the note responding without airing out or sputtering, I will perform Clarke Studies #1... chromatic scale patterns (7 notes up / down).  Again, performing these softly to help relieve tension and not cause any swelling.  This is also performed on / off to allow ample rest during this warm up process.
*  Once I've completed exercise #1 from the Clarke book, I will either play exercise #2 or I will start running jazz patterns that don't take me any higher than a G on top of the staff.  Again, resting every now and again...
*  After resting from my last phase, I will run exercise #9 out of the Clarke book... this is extended chromatic studies.  Once again, I focus on keeping my volume down so I don't add tension to my lips, and I can use my air to reach the upper register notes.  Most players run into big trouble here because they start using lip tension vs. holding the lips close together and pushing the air speed.
Please note that I am allowing for rest in my warm up - just as much as I'm playing.  This is VITAL!  If a trumpeter does not allow for rest during their warm up process, strain and tension can start to hinder their playing.  This causes frustration, which creates a vicious circle.

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