Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 21:49:09 -0500
From: John Daniel <>
Subject: range and endurance

I keep seeing all these posts that give the impression that trumpet playing requires lots of training along the lines of a weight lifter or track and field athelete.  In my experience, its a lot more like hitting a golf ball, in other words it's about efficiency and mastery of the fundamentals, not strength.  Trust me, while most but not all embouchures can be strengthened, and there is a degree of conditioning involved, the most progress can be made by insisting on developing the right fundamentals and techniques.  I won't even begin to try to teach these fundamentals in this context, but a short list goes like this:

1.  Learn how to stand and sit without tension.
2.  Learn how to breathe agressively without tension.
3.  Learn how to think about the trumpet, and hold the trumpet without tension.
4.  Learn how to play very simple things beautifully and easily.  One note truly mastered and played with ease and confidence is a great start.
5.  Only progress to lip slurs, scales etc. with the thought in mind that we are looking for an easy and simple manner of playing.

My motto:  Work as hard as necessary to make playing as easy as possible. Also, a good embouchure is critical and can be developed in many ways, either through direct or indirect methods, depending on the experience of the teacher and the aptitude of the student.  No embouchure can be completely developed by conscious effort.  We can get in the ball park that way, but the finished product has to be sound oriented and allowed to happen. Eventually playing has to be as if watching someone else play, simple, easy, and not self-conscious.

While I sometimes play when I'm tired because the music or my pocketbook demands it, I virtually never practice when I'm tired because it only promotes bad habits.  Look at the great players who make it look easy, there is a lesson in there, folks.

John Daniel
Prof. of Trpt.
Penn State Univ.