Me, during a hike at Great Falls Park, Virginia.

Why should I focus on fitness in an effort to be happy and to be a happy trumpeter? There are a few reasons. 

  1. Anaerobic workouts (strength training) can produce endorphins, which can help you feel better (or, at the very least, feel less pain). But you have to be careful with endorphins, because they mask pain. And pain can tell you when to quit. Specifically in trumpet playing, when going for the high note at a time when you’re feeling a rush of endorphins, it’s easy to miss the pain signals coming from your lips telling you that you have had enough. Eating spicy foods can help boost endorphins. Whenever I saw the baroque trumpeter Fred Holmgren on the road, he would always have a bottle of hot sauce with him. 
  2. Sustained aerobic workouts, like running (which I’m not doing now), can produce the so-called “runner’s high.” This may not come from endorphins, as was previously suspected. But rather from an “endocannabinoid.” 
  3. High-intensity workouts can increase serotonin levels, according to some studies. But it has to be to the point of physical and possibly mental fatigue. 
  4. Getting outside in the sunlight can trigger serotonin increases. 
  5. If your workout is entertaining and has variety (and not just drudgery), then your overall happiness level will probably go up, according to some studies. 

My own assumption is that these happiness hormones from your workouts and your overall confidence from being fitter can change your perspective on playing trumpet. It will become something positive that you look forward to.

Davy DeArmond mountain biking

In 2014, I interviewed a Naval Academy Band trumpeter Davy DeArmond, who is a serious athlete. In his interview, he linked the whole process of road racing to trumpet playing: the warm-up, being thoughtful about sessions, listening to your body, setting and accomplishing goals. In other words, DeArmond says, “I have found [that] fitness and racing have taught me a lot about playing trumpet. With trumpet, it is easy to fall victim to habit. What worked for me 15 years ago as a young trumpet player might not be as effective today. However, we sometimes need to change our approach or our way of thinking, and it is through my racing experiences that I have learned to adjust my approach to trumpet.”

My take-away is that exercise will help me be a happier trumpeter. At least five 30-minute sessions per week. Many of these workouts will need to be high intensity. Getting out in the sun, and challenging myself with variety and elements of self-imposed fun will provide even more benefits. 




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