Using Technology to Improve Your Trumpet Playing

We are all familiar with the advancements made in technology, but do we take full advantage of the many devices we have? In this first offering, I will list some that I have been able to utilize which have made a difference in my playing ability and with the following post I will describe the methods used to take full advantage of these devices.

Video Recording

Many might question the importance of video recording your playing, but you must realize that every performance you do is both a visual as well as an audible performance. In my next post, I will give some suggestions as to how you can improve your performance from both points of view.

Metronome

How easy it is to forget what this simple time keeper was intended for but how many of us still work with it on a regular basis? Keeping a steady tempo or even knowing what the tempo should be is usually not important to most of us, but having the ability to keep a steady beat is important and in a following post I will cover some simple, yet effective ways to use this device more effectively in your practice routine.

Tuner

Everything I said about the importance and use of the metronome can be restated regarding the use of the tuner. Even though most of us have and sometimes use this instrument, I will cover a few effective tricks which will make this instrument more valuable to your trumpet improvement.

Audio recorder

So simple yet so effective when one tries to improve their playing skills. The improvement made in recording quality has made this device more accurate in sound recording and playback and for that reason; we need to do more practicing with it. I will be listing more effective ways to get the most out of your recorder.

Visualizing Your Sound

The tone quality of your performance is many times a problem and in a following post I will suggest some tricks which can make a significant improvement in your sound through the use of biofeedback exercises.

Increasing Power with the Dials

Just how loud is loud? You’ll be able to see how decibel measurements can increase your ability to play stronger and for longer periods of time.

Playing Duets By Yourself

Ensemble playing has many benefits as we all know. But what do you do when there is no one to play with? I’ll give you some simple solutions to this problem in a later post also.

Finding the Correct Mouthpiece Placement

When first starting out as trumpet players we have to locate the correct position for our mouthpiece. This sounds simple enough but after teaching for more years than I care to remember, this decision is more important than most people realize. The exact location can be determined by luck, comfort, or even the set up of your teeth, lips and jaw position. What I will describe here is a very easy way to get started as a beginner and may also be used as a guide to see if you, as a seasoned veteran, have been doing it correctly or is there a more effective position for you to change to.

Steps for locating the proper placement of your mouthpiece from left to right-

1. Start buzzing a constant pitch in your middle range.
2. Place your first finger of your left hand on the left, outside corner of your lip.
3. Slowly side your finger towards the center of your lip.
4. When your vibration (buzz) stops, keep your finger in the same position.
5. Restart your buzz and slowly slide your first finger of your right hand from the right, outside corner towards the center as you did with your left hand.
6. When the vibration (buzz) stops, check where the center is between your two fingers for this is where you should place your mouthpiece.

Steps for locating the proper placement of your mouthpiece up and down-

This decision is not an easy for several issues come into play. Most instructors would agree that placing the mouthpiece equal distances would be a good start but due to ones own physical conditions, dental facial structure, damaged lip tissues, scares, etc. each individual must decide what works best for him/her. There are some general characteristics attributed to higher and lower placements-

1. A mouthpiece placed very high on the lips will many times improve low range playing because of the increased length of vibrating tissue.*
2. A mouthpiece placed low on the lips will many times improve high range playing because of the decreased length of vibrating tissue.
3. A mouthpiece placed very high on the lips will many times improve flexibility because of the increased length of vibrating tissue.
4. A mouthpiece placed low on the lips will many times restrict flexibility because of the shortened length of vibrating tissue.
5. A mouthpiece placed very high on the lips will many times result in a darker sound because of the increased length of vibrating tissue.
6. A mouthpiece placed low on the lips will many times brighten the tone quality because of the decreased length of vibrating tissue.
7. A mouthpiece placed very high on the lips will many times increase endurance because more lip muscles are able to develop strength.
8. A mouthpiece placed low on the lips will many times decrease endurance because less lip muscles are able to develop.

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, the most effective location of your mouthpiece will greatly affect your playing and development as a trumpet player.

*It has been proven that the upper lip is the only area that vibrates when buzzing. The lower lip’s function is to support the upper lip when buzzing.