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Trumpet Professor

Although there can sometimes be many answers to a question, The Trumpet Professor tries to answer questions about trumpet playing- from the most basic to the most complex.

If you study the practice habits of the great players you will find that rest breaks are included in their daily practice sessions. Too often players will practice until their lips are exhausted or until they flatten out or play into complete collapse of the embouchure. This non-productive approach can lead to stiff lip syndrome, poor endurance, poor range and a lack of flexibility. Straining and forcing your lips will not help you to become a better trumpeter. Herbert L. Clarke*, the great American cornet soloist and pedagogue, encouraged players to play for a minute and rest for a minute. Throughout his famous technical study book he stressed the importance of keeping the lips “fresh and elastic.” He writes: the muscles of the lips must be trained until they are elastic and strong, and always remembering that only the slightest pressure and not brute force is necessary to produce a tone." All professional players understand the importance of rest in practice. The great Russian trumpet virtuoso, Timofei Dokshizer, practiced in 20-minute segments with 20-minute rest periods. Other players have different ways of including rest in their practice. Some do 15 minutes of practice and 5-10 minutes of rest. Some include 1 to 5 minute rest after each exercise. There can be different variations on when to rest and for how long but the important thing is to rest enough so that the lips maintain their elasticity. For young players it can be a good idea to rest for 10-20 seconds between exercises. If you are a player who practices one or more hours a day try practicing in segments with rests in between. Including rests in ones daily practice is an important part of efficient and productive training.
* Clarke’s “Technical Studies for Trumpet” is one of the great trumpet study books and an absolute must for any serious player
“Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect”
                                                                     Vince Lombardi
This is an interesting quote, easy to say and easy to dream about but can be difficult to accomplish. A helpful approach to perfect practice is to pay attention to every detail as best as you can. Professional or beginner, we must all practice with care. Work out the most obvious mistakes first then move on to the subtlest ones. Repeat the difficult sections slowly. Don't play fast until you have the section learned, which might take days or weeks. After the section is learned you can gradually play it at faster tempos. Remember that speed is a final destination. The longest journey in the world is one step at a time. Give each of your steps all of your attention and you will without doubt improve.
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