- 10% rule. Don’t increase your playing load more than 10% a week. This rule, coming from the athletic world, is harder to comply with in trumpet playing, because it’s hard to know just how much effort you put into the trumpet on a weekly basis. Solution: you can journal your practice, keeping track of how much time you spend for each practice session. Tally up the total amount of time, and you will have an approximation of the effort you spend on the trumpet. If you want to dig deeper, you should make allowances for playing high and loud. Count extra time for these sessions, since these wear down the lips more. The take away: don’t start practicing too much without a large foundation of embouchure fitness built up. It’s especially important to remember this when getting ready for a recital or audition.
- Specificity rule. Practice the way you want to perform. Although playing fundamental exercises is important, they are not the pieces you will be playing in front of an audience. Set aside practice that imitates the performance you would like to achieve. If you have a Brandenburg Concerto coming up, then you need to practice playing this piece (with lots of rest in between to recover), but you should lighten up on the loud, orchestral playing. This also speaks to how some players loose some of their good tone by playing too much on the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece can be a great tool to help you play better, but if you play the mouthpiece too much, or if your mouthpiece routine is not integrated with regular trumpet playing, then you are focusing too much on the mouthpiece, which is NOT what you are playing for an audience. Same for lip flexibility, long tones or scales. Spend at least 60% of your time working on the music you want to perform.
- Slow beats fast. Every time. If you need to go faster in your technique, you must go slower to make the movements more efficient. This is not only to make things clean (which is very important), but this actually enables you to go faster, because extraneous movement is minimized. Your metronome. Get your metronome to help you regulate your speed.
- Goldilocks rule. This rule is similar to the “slow beat fast rule.” In the story of Goldilocks, she didn’t like the soup that was too hot or too cold. Only the soup that was just right. Similarly, in trumpet playing, we can’t go too fast, nor will we make much progress going too slow. There is a “speed of ease.” This is the soup that Goldilocks can eat, and this is the soup with which trumpeters can improve the most.
- Beginnings and ends trump middles. This rule speaks to the psychological importance of the beginning and the end of a piece of music. This is what your audience remembers the most. Polish your beginnings and ends to make them the shiniest.
Good stuff, especially #13. This is the hardest thing to get students to do, yet yields the greatest results in the shortest period of time.