Today, I wanted to briefly outline a basic concept to help your playing–“Mind to Metal.” The idea is to consider the chain of the music making from your mind to playing the trumpet. Each link in the chain can be improved with deliberate effort. We start with the mind’s concept of the music:
- Mind. How concretely do you understand the music? Do you listen to recordings? Do you “hear” the music in your mind? Have you studied the music visually or conceptually?
- Do a “wind pattern” on your hand. Blow the air, as if you are playing. Concentrate on correct rhythm and airflow. Focus on correct length of notes. Consider the amount of air you are blowing.
- Sing. This is a check on the mind, since singing is the closest we can get to our mind’s concept. On this step, make sure to check your pitch with either a keyboard (transposing as necessary) or a reference pitch (a drone on a tuner, for instance). You can also sing along with a recording (you can slow down if you need to–if you have certain kinds of technology). On this step, and in subsequent steps, don’t settle for mediocre. Really try to make your singing sound great. Add in articulation as needed.
- Free buzz. You can do this if it is not too high. Free buzzing is a demanding sideline to trumpet playing. I encourage you to work on it. Again, check your pitch. Make it sound good (as good as possible). Add in articulation as needed.
- Visualizer buzzing. This is the cut-away mouthpiece. Check pitch, make it sound great.
- Mouthpiece buzzing. Grab your mouthpiece and again go through the effort to make it sound great. For instance, try not to break the air or huff when the music needs to be smooth. Pitch is important here–check it. Articulate. Make sure rhythm is great
- Play it on the trumpet. It will feel a little different. Try it a few times until you feel re-acquainted with the whole instrument. You should feel more confident now that you worked on each of these “chain links.”