How I practice- Lip Slurs for Improved Tone And Flexibility

PracticeIn our previous post we directed our attention to the chromatic warm-up and this post explains the benefit of lip slurs to improve flexibility as well as improving your tone.

The more strength you developed in your embouchure, the more lip slurs will be needed to keep your flexibility in line with your increased strength. In order to accomplish this, time must be spent doing lip slurs. The amount of slurs you do will depend on the amount of time you are spending strengthening your embouchure. A very good way to evaluating your flexibility needs is to answer this question “Do your lips feel good”? In most cases when your lips feel alive and fresh, you are getting enough flexibility exercises. On the other hand, if your lips feel stiff, inflexible and generally tired, then you are in need of some good lip flexibility time.

Every day I try to get in my complete one hour of practice as we have talked about in these posts. But, if I only have a few minutes to play my horn, I njoy electronic cigarette usually do some lip exercises. Even when I’m shopping, a few minutes buzz my lips will help loosen them. I also have in each of our cars a mouthpiece just in case I need to buzz and I’m stuck in Branson traffic.

There are many books on the subject of lip slurs and they all will work. My favorite two books are the Earl Irons, “27 Groups of Exercises” and “Advanced Lip Flexibilities” by Charles Colin. The reason I use these two collections is the fact that after a couple months of playing either one, I get bored and eventually change back to the other. Both are excellent collections of lip exercises.

As with our first post on practicing, you will fine below a downloadable collection of exercises to improve your lip condition as well as a recording of all the material. Download the PDF file, print it and play the recording from this site and start becoming the player you have always wanted to be.

Slurring exercises here- Lip Flexibility Exercises


How I practice- The Warm-up

PracticeThe importance of warming up before hard playing cannot be over stated. Just as an athlete stretches, a ball player throws easy at first; the trumpet player is very similar in that a sudden blast of a high note may work for some but the more intelligent of the masses begin their playing with an easy routine of warming up gradually.

I have incorporated my chromatic exercise into my warm-up and find it very beneficial. No matter how high we are able to play, improving our range is always a good idea. The chromatic warm-up I have included both as a PDF file and a recording will make it more interesting for you to practice this exercise.

The advantage of playing chromatic scales to warm-up on and the added advantage of increasing your range will save time in your practicing. Each day I continue up to a particular note that I have been able to play easily. I will continue up to that note without advancing higher. After that note has become easy to achieve, I will then advance to the next half step and stay there for as long as it takes me to feel comfortable at that range. Sometimes I will stay on the same note for weeks. If I have not practiced for a while, I will have to return to a lower note and continue with the work to get back up to my highest note played easily again. Your highest note will fluctuate from day to day but with regular practice, your high range will improve. I have been asked several times in clinic “How high can you play”? My response is always the same, “I can play one step higher than I am expected to play”.

The Chromatic Warm-Up

As you can see from your printed music, the first few measures are rests. The first measures are played on the tape. In all cases, you are to repeat what you hear on the recording. It is very helpful to be able to imitate something you have just heard. As you progress to the higher notes keep in mind that some of you will not be able to reach the top note on the recording. When this was recorded, I had no idea as to the range of the players and have included more high notes than some of you may be able to play at this time Online Casino. On the other hand, some will be able to continue higher than the recorded example and that also is fine. The only thing you need to realize is that you should never push higher than you feel comfortable. Some players will improve one half step in a few days while others may stay on the same high note for a month. Each player will progress at his/her own rate. If the recording continues higher than you are able to play comfortably, continue to repeat your highest scale until the recording descends back to your high note. After that, follow the recording back down.

The method that I am using is in line with a subject posted earlier called welcome-to-the-bell-curve-system-of-practicing.

Some are blessed with ease in the upper register while the rest of us have to work very hard to increase our range by one step. We applaud those who are so gifted with high notes and we applaud them just as they should recognize the talents we possess.

How to use the material

Once you have downloaded your music to your desktop you are ready to begin. Start the recording on this site and follow my lead.
The trumpet part was recorded in the right channel and the metronome was recorded in the left channel. In that way you will be able to adjust the volume to your needs. If you are unable to play at the recorded speed, a program such as Audacity can make it very easy to slow the tempo down without changing the pitch.

Remember- While following the recording, remember to relax and enjoy what you are doing. Playing any instrument should be enjoyable not a drudgery.

Remember- If you feel that you are increasing the mouthpiece pressure on your lip as you continue upward, you need to check out my post on mouthpiece pressure.

Remember- Bang the valves down firmly at all times.

Remember- As you play higher; think of blowing the air further out your bell.

Remember- An improvement of one half step a week will put you on a note an augmented fifth higher in two months.

Remember- The first few times that you practice this material, make sure you are seated. Read my post _-Why do trumpet players pass out.

Remember- DON’T BE IN A HURRY! Slow and consistent improvement is much better than haphazard and unreliable performances.

Lesson 1- Chromatic warm-up

How And What I Practice

PracticeI have had a few readers ask what they need to practice to be a better player. Without hearing or visiting with these people, it would be impossible to suggesting what might work best for them. The best I can do is to share a typical hour practice session which I go through each day.

I will be the first to say that what I do “might” improve your playing and with that said, let me explain how and what I run through each day. I am a strong believer that practicing the same material every day becomes boring and for that reason I have three routines I alternated with when boredom begins to set in. The material below is one of three routines I use.

Practice routine #1.

The Warm-Up

The use of a chromatic exercise to warm up on is very important in my practice and if you do not use a regular warm-up, this might be of help to you. The reason I use a chromatic warm-up is because moving upward by half steps is the best way to reach high notes. The use of a chromatic scale gives the embouchure only slightly more work load at a time. Making wide skips such as octaves or fifths force the embouchure to make sudden and exaggerated adjustments which I feel are not productive in a warm-up exercise.

Lip Flexibility

After the embouchure muscles have been gradually warmed-up, adding lip flexibility exercises gradually increase the work load on your embouchure. Improving lip flexibility is vitally important for a complete embouchure development and for that reason I strongly recommend some flexibility exercises in your practice routine. As you increase strength in your embouchure it is important to maintain good flexibility for strength without flexibility is not helpful in the improving of your playing.

Finger development

The ability to move your fingers quickly and be able to perform in all fingering combinations is also important and for that reason I have included at least one finger exercise from the Clarke Technical Studies book each day. If you don’t have this book, be sure to pick one up for it is the best finger exercise material available.

Etude Playing

The best way to improve in a melodic and musical fashion is to regularly practice melodic Viagra Online etudes. More often than not, students think that the best way to practice is to keep the mouthpiece on the lip and play until there is nothing left. To guard against this in my own playing, I practice a “rest as much as you play” routine. I use this system in all of my practicing and it has been proven to be the most productive routine of practicing for at the end of your practice session, you lip should feel “used” and never “abused”.

In the following posts I will be offering practice material in the form of downloadable PDF files as well as an accompanying MP3 recording which you can download to your desktop and use in your own practice sessions.

Some may find this material too advanced for their current level of playing and to those players I suggest that you use these recordings as examples of how you could set up your own practice material. And for those who find the material less than challenging, I suggest that you record yourself in the same manner on more advanced material.

If you do not have access to a recording device or software for your recordings, read my post which will help you in that area…………… Using Technology To Improve Your Trumpet Playing- Using An Audio Recorder

In my next post I will cover the warm-up section of my practice routine and I will also include printed exercises as well as an accompanying recording which will get you started.

When practicing this material you will begin to understand the reason I have recorded my own practice exercises. Once you begin the recording, you tend to continue through to the end. You will also realize that practicing with a recording seems to make the time pass much faster. This “Play/Rest” routine is gaining popularity and I wonder what took the trumpet world so long to get on to the concept. I have used this routine most of my playing career and to explain that more fully, check out my post at …………… Rest As Much As You Play.

Welcome aboard and to those who asked for help on how and what to practice, I hope this gives you some helpful ideas as to how you can adapt this to your own practice routine.

Valve Slide Conversion Rings- The solution to Low D & C# Intonation Adjustments

Valve extension tubingAn Alternate Fix for Low D and C#

We all know that low D and its neighboring C# are sharp and we all know that to play in tune, we are told to push either or both the third slide and or the first slide out in order to solve this intonation dilemma. At least we are supposed to. What if there was another less gymnastic way to correct the problem. But wait, someone has found a better way and due to the fact that I am responsible for this simple solution, I will tell you how it works.

Try this and let me know what you think. I have been using this easy solution now for a week in my own practice as well as some ensemble playing and will not go back to the old “push your third slide out on low D and C#” again.

If all of your slides are extended a proportionate distance, there is no need to push and pull your slides out to be in tune. I have found that if you extend each of your slides a proportionate distance you need only to lip a few notes up or down to play in tune. Here is how it’s done….
Extend your second slide a distance about 1/16th of an inch. Extend your first slide about 1/8 of an inch and your third slide ¼ of an inch. Due to the fact that you have lowered your valve slide you will now need to compensate by bringing “in” your tuning slide approximately ½ inch. All of these changes are only approximate for each instrument and each player will affect the outcome.

After you have played with these changes, you will need to adjust each slide so that the intonation adjustments will be done by slight adjustment of the lip either up or down. The use of chromatic scale works well for the exercise. Notice especially when you play the following notes as chromatic pitches- low D, C#, D#. What you need to look for is an added pop of air as you pass these notes. The added air to the third slide will tell you if you have extended your third slide far enough. If you feel a “bump” in the air stream, extend your third slide a little farther, until this “bump” flattens out.

Extending your slides in this manner will lower your “valved” notes but will not affect your open tones and that is why you need to compensate by bringing in your tuning slide. What you are essentially doing is making all of your notes a little out of tune and by compensating with your lip, you will be able to bypass the drudgery of sliding valve slides in and out. Extending your valve slides bring up another issue which I will show you how to make this major change in your playing.

Valve slide conversion rings

Valve slide conversion rings can be used to accurately establish the amount of extension on each of your slides. I made the first set of rings from plastic PCV pipe as seen in the photo. Another material which will work is the plastic hose used in outside water features. Either will work and will take you a very little time to fabricate. The most important issue is to know the correct amount of extension your valves will need. The PVC tubing will take about ten minutes to fit on each valve slide and the plastic hose material will require much less time for you only need a good pair of scissors to accomplish you task.

Instruction for fabricating valve extension rings-

1. Acquire a small length of ½” CPI “CPVC HOT & Cold Blue Line” tubing or plastic hose material.
2. Cut the length required to compensate on all three valve slides.
3. Drill, sand and polish the inside of the tubing until it slides easily onto your valve slides.
4. Play for about a week and shorten the tubing if necessary to adjust the lengths to get the best results.
5. Don’t forget to bring your tuning slide in about ½ inch also.

I no longer have to push and pull slides around in order to play in tune. With just the slightest lip change, I can play much more easily on my instrument. Try it and let me know how if it works for you.