The Journey

It is important to learn to appreciate the journey you are on as a trumpet player. Young players (and many older players) find themselves hampered by debilitating stress and frustration about their playing, many without realizing that it is a problem. Many players instinctively tense their tongue and momentarily hold in their air before an attack. Why do this? It's certainly not because it helps. It gets ingrained in most of us from the beginning that playing trumpet is hard and that playing high is very hard. The body's natural response to having to do something physically difficult is to tense up. It is necessary to retrain the mind so that playing is not thought of as difficult, but instead is just done. Watch these videos of Matthias Hofs playing (To hear more of him check out the German Brass in the Brass Ensemble part of my Listening Room). He plays with the same ease that most of us speak with, and it is easy for him simply because he allows it to be. Let yourself just breathe and play as though you are just speaking. To make this change it is important to not care what you sound like. Imagine the sound that you wish to play but don't worry about whether it happens. This is one of the most difficult concepts to completely apply, but yields the greatest reward. Playing trumpet becomes not about wrestling the trumpet, but simply about playing music.

Getting back to the journey, it is important to not be concerned with getting "there". These kinds of thoughts lead to the excess tension explained above. I remember thinking in highschool that that if I could just get my multiple tonguing better and get my range up to a high F then I would be "there". As I continued to play though, and achieved those goals, I realized that in many ways I am no closer to "there" than I was in highschool. The better you get the higher your standards will become. If you are enjoying yourself and have the goal of making music every time the horn is on your face you are where you need to be. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic Jason. Absolutely nailed it right there.
I'm reading this every time before I practice.
Thanks so much!

8:34 AM, December 05, 2005  
Anonymous Joe said...

Beautifully said. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Reading your post helped me to remember why I started playing music in the first place... not to get results, but to enjoy making a beautiful sound, with the wonder of a child. As the years have gone by it has been harder and harder for me to get back to this, and sad to say I've had a lot of playing problems and almost quit many times.

After reading your post I played with the most beautiful sound and effortless grace. It was stupefying. I finally just had fun and played with a sizzling sound.

I wonder how we can get back to this state of grace on a daily basis?


3:37 PM, March 03, 2011  

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