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Fine Arts Brass tips for trumpet players everywhere

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See also: Music for more than one trumpet

What's the Point of Practice? A few of my own thoughts - Simon Lenton
Nigel Kennedy best summed this up for me in an interview on Radio 4 a few years back:

Practice is like the guy trudging up the hill with the hang-glider on his back in order to get that moment of freedom when he can just fly and go free.

Let's be honest - no one really likes practicing, but we all know it's something we have to do. When I say no one likes practicing, that's not entirely true. Some people relish the challenge it throws up. I know when I've had a solo trumpet recital to work for, I've hated the first few practice sessions but have thoroughly enjoyed ironing out the last few creases of the 'musical shirt' that is the piece I'm to perform! It's a case of training like an athlete for the performance and not really making music at that stage. You're not really in a position to make music just yet - as Kennedy said, you're still climbing that hill. What is important at that stage is to separate the section that's giving you problems and only return to the bigger picture (piece) when you've cracked it. Let's say you're having a stamina problem. Why not take the piece at half speed, play it twice as loud and when you get to the end, turn back to the top left and play it again EVEN slower? Do this every day for a week and trust me you'll have no stamina problem. The same can be said of every aspect of our technique if we can isolate it.

The real answer for any player lies in finding the correct route for them: we are all individuals. I don't believe there are 'natural' players but only people who find the way that works best for them the quickest. As a general rule, I'd say you'd got something right if you didn't have a major fight on your hands getting there. I know from my own playing, when it's going well it like falling off a log. When it's going badly, it's like climbing Everest! As brass teachers we need to help our students find their own individual route and as players we need to strive to achieve this - as Joan Littlewood said: If we don't get lost we'll never find a different route.

It's for this reason that I don't believe in the playing books that say 'this is the way to do it'. Sure, take notice of them - but only if you're able take them with a pinch of salt. How does the old saying go?

"A drop of medicine cures, a bottle of it can kill..."

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