Trumpet Technique

Using Visualization to Achieve Quality Airflow

The most consistent issue I’ve come across in young trumpeters is insufficient use of air. It takes many students years to understand how much air is necessary to play the instrument well and then how to appropriately utilize it. It’s easy to tell students they need more air, but “more” is a subjective idea. In contrast to open ended statements like “more,” providing descriptive ways to visualize and assess air usage can give students tools that are both more specific and more effective. A few such ideas can help students engage their air correctly without having to overthink the mechanics of it. Below are four concepts which I have consistently found useful in both my teaching and playing.

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How Loud Is Too Loud?

There is a temptation, particularly in ensemble situations, for young trumpeters to play too loudly. A student might feel they need to play loudly to hear themselves well, to stand out amongst their peers, or to help lead the group. Sometimes ensemble directors demand large volumes as well, especially in jazz band or marching band settings. Volume is a slippery slope for young trumpeters. Consistently playing at loud volumes before one’s embouchure is ready to handle it can easily lead to developing an overspread aperture, which comes with a host of issues. By keeping volumes in check, educators can help their trumpet players achieve better endurance, facility, and tone while avoiding some common pitfalls related to overplaying.

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