Lead trumpet playin’ tips
Here’s a little bit of insight from my years on the road.
Remember this. Lead playing is not just about playing high notes. I state this because so many young aspiring Lead players ask first how to increase their range instead of how to phrase, articulate, etc. in the Lead registers. A trumpet player who has a great upper register, but has no sense of musicality or discipline can be very annoying. The good Lead player must be a good TOTAL trumpet player. You, the Lead player, must be able to sight-read parts in all genres. You must be able to project your sound all the way to the back of the concert hall. You must be able to play in the complete range of the instrument, musically, with a command of all styles, whether it be Swing, Latin, Rock, or a Ballad. You must play with a beautiful tone quality in all dynamic levels with good intonation, phrasing, sense of time(tempo)and with great CONSISTENCY.
You should be working on a daily routine designed ESPECIALLY for yourself that will push your limits on a daily basis: increasing your wind control and capacity, increasing your upper register very gradually, making your fortes louder, your pianos softer, your sound more pure, your tongue more flexible in the upper and extreme upper registers, and your endurance better. The routine should help to cover many of the realistic tasks we have as trumpet players and it is a tool that we must maintain each day in order to be consistent Lead players.
There is not just one “universal method” for developing Lead chops. Many Lead players, extraordinary as they are, may have totally different methods, techniques, and equipment to meet their ends: more mouthpiece pressure vs. less pressure, large mouthpiece cups vs. shallower cups, large bore horns vs. small bore, pedal-tone practice vs. no pedal tones at all, an infinite number of mouthpiece to lip settings as well as tongue placement, dozens of warm-up, tonguing, flexibility, scale, and range exercises. This list can go on and on. You must find what best works for you by using your own logic, obtaining a good teacher, and practicing for many hours. Developing a routine can be a lifelong process and your routine may constantly morph along the way.
Shakes: I use a controlled “hand” shake, which is, realistically, an “arm” shake using the elbow as a spring.
Charles Colin Lip Flexabilities, Max Schloshberg & the Arbans books are a good source. You can actually shake the horn back & forth on the lips to get it going at first, many players do this. Using different valve combinations can help give the shake a smoother, more liquid sound. I let the tempo of the tune determine the speed of the shake.”
Falls: “Once again the type of music and tempo determine the length and type of fall. Slower swing tunes might call for a smooth ½ valve fall. (ala Pink Panther Theme). Faster falls (as found in funk charts) require a more powerful sounding decent. This can be accomplished by hitting the note and pushing down all valves on the way down. This creates a rough, powerful fall.”
Rips: “Rips or slides are usually done with ½ valve and releasing the valves when you reach the note you are sliding into. I like to stop the slide with my tongue giving the note a definite attack. I use the syllable DA for the slide up and UT for the note I’m going to. Another cool effect is to open the spit valve on the ascent. This creates a siren affect that also makes the rip more pronounced.”
Doits: “Much like falls, the doit can be done smooth or with all valves down for different effects.”
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