“FAST”- Sustained Success w/Simple Slurs

SlurrSometimes I am asked, “Where do you get your ideas to write about”?

Today’s post comes from the fact that both my wife and I have been suffering for the past couple weeks with cases of Bronchitis and with this condition, the above mentioned participants find relief by sleeping in a chair in the upright position. You are forced to spend more time thinking than sleeping and this post is the product of last night’s rest (or lack of).

Please pay close attention to what I will be offering for in my opinion, I feel very strongly about this post and I think every musician could benefit from what I am about to say.

The concept of “Sustained Success w/Simple Slurs” is a culmination of many years teaching, practicing and constant retuning. The practice is so simple and the benefits are noticeably effective. I have been using this technique for many years but this is the first time I have taken the time to document all of the benefits so I will be as complete and clear as possible so that you may also benefit from this routine.

My choice of the term “FAST” was carefully chosen for it is an acronym for Finger- Air- Slurs- Tonguing. I will explain each of these areas which are benefited through regular slurring and it is my hope that you gain as much improvement as I have through this simple, yet effective practice.

Slurring is not generally taken to the extent to which I have taken it for most music is a combination of many articulations. When the amount of time for slurred passages is substantially extended, several benefits begin to surface and I will explain these in the following sections.

Fingers- Each time a note is tongued there is a very small interval when the first note is separated from the following note. This can be seen in the following image. Example 2

These gaps represent the amount of time the player is able to change valves (if required), reset the embouchure, and begin the next note. The wider the gap, the more time the player will take for these adjustments. Through repeated tonguing, most players become negligent at quick changes and this is reflected in an inaccurate performance. Through constant slurs, the gap is eliminated (as much as possible) and the player is required to more rapidly make changes in order to negotiate through the notes cleanly. This rapid adjustment can be illustrated in no better area than the speed of your valve changes.

“Slurs expose slow valves and articulated notes hide finger flaws”.

Air- Also illustrated in the photo above are the areas where the air stream is terminated and then restarted. These momentary halts to the air flow tend to add up and because of these hesitations, air does not flow which conserves the amount of air exchanged through your lungs. Slurring passages sustains the exhalation through the horn which in turn requires the player to breath deeper and use more air.

“Slurring forces the player to breath deeper in order to compensate for more massive air flow”.

Slurs- When performing an articulated wide skip, most players have additional time to make the required adjustments to their air, lip and finger motion and this hesitation allows the player to adjust in a slower tempo than when executing the same change when slurring. Slurring a wide interval requires the player to make an instantaneous adjustment in order to perform a clean slur with no hesitation between notes.

“Slurring forces the player to make faster lip changes than when articulating pitch changes”

Tone- Seldom do we think about the connection between slurring and improved tone quality but the connection will be very apparent after you have slurred for extended periods of time. The more involved your tongue is in playing, the tighter your aural cavity becomes. The motion and position of your active tongue tends to diminish the size of your throat and mouth area which in turn diminishes the roundness and fullness of your tone.

“Slurring for extended periods will open, darken and improve your tone and the more tonguing you do, the tighter your tone becomes”

FAST- Finger- Air- Slurs- Tone

For more information on this novel yet proven effective technique, visit my trumpetlessonsonline.com site.

Bruce was a member of the faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, School of Music in Cedar Falls from 1969 until his retirement in 1999. He has performed with many well-known entertainers such as Bob Hope, Jim Nabors, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Anita Bryant, Carman Cavalara, Victor Borgie, the Four Freshman, Blackstone the Magician, Bobby Vinton and John Davidson.

4 thoughts on ““FAST”- Sustained Success w/Simple Slurs

  1. Steffan

    Thanks for a great read. I’ve been playing trumpet and cornet on and off for over a decade and recently came back after a couple of years off. I normally start my practice with about 5mins buzzing followed by 5 minutes of long sustained notes then followed by a few Hymns(If I’m on the Cornet). I’m going to change my regiment to slurred Hymns instead of tonguing.

    • Bruce Chidester

      Let me know what you think.

      Getting back on the trumpet/cornet horse can be a blast. Remember to be patient and work in short sessions at a time.

    • Steffan

      Thank you for your advice Bruce after a few weeks of my new practice regime. I’ve had great improvements on Tone and Intonation. I haven’t participated in solo competitions since I was a teenager but thought I I’d give it another shot and Won. It was slow melody competition, I played The Holy City (Jerusalem). I was going to play Gounod Bach Ave Maria but decided to play it safe in case nerves got the better of me (I’ll play that one next time). I have a recording if you’d like to listen

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