Mindful trumpeting

It occurred to me yesterday that I have never really “arrived” as a trumpeter. This ideas is forced on me when I realize, for instance, how difficult it is to begin a note at ppp. Or to play smoothly from an open fingering low C to 1st and 3rd valve D. Or, heck, everyday, when I warmup. There are always messes to clean up, misconceptions that have creeped in, lips that aren’t supple enough, or strong enough, or a tongue that is not articulating clean enough.

And that’s okay.

That’s the nature of playing trumpet. It’s not about perfection, but about trying to focus on what it is we are doing. When you notice something not quite right, you deal with it. Over and over again. Always. We can “deal with it” in a few different ways:

  1. Acknowledge and then ignore, because it might go away on its own
  2. Try the passage again, because it will probably improve
  3. Use your practice techniques (too many to list here, but you can imagine some of them)

This is the “mindfulness” of trumpet playing. In fact, the trumpet is only the designated item to improve. The real focus should be ourselves. We improve ourselves when we make an effort to improve our trumpet playing.

So, now that we have acknowledged the truth of unending problems on the trumpet, can I just put out there that this process does not have to be tedious. This is life. This is being a human. Each time we improve, however small, it is enough. Each time we acknowledge a flaw, this too is enough for that moment. Each time we share our music, it is enough. Each time we play for only ourselves, it is enough. Engagement in the process is enough.

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