Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 11:47:10 EDT
Subject: Re: Timing of days off, for strength and stamina

I should first say that I make myself take at least one day off each week and hopefully two weeks off once a year. The two weeks, however, have been hard to come by. I usually do this in the Summer, but the past two years I haven't been able to do so. It has almost gotten to a point where I need to actually put those two weeks in my date book and turn down jobs when they come in.

Now, someone mentioned that "everyone is different". I've been able to catagorize two of those differences over the past few years and I'll share some of what I've learned with you today.

First of all, when I was in college, before I discovered my approach to the trumpet, I had an embouchure that relied on a little lump that forms inside the lip, inside the cup. I discovered that "warming up" was basically the process of developing that lump. If I didn't warm up enough, then there wasn't enough swelling to get the notes out. If I warmed up too much, then my lips would get "shot" too soon. I had to manipulate that swelling (even though I didn't know that's what I was doing) in a way which would give me the longest amount of usable time on the horn.

You can disagree with me if you like, but I believe that a lot of trumpet players play the way I just described. They may not think in the way that I'm saying it now, but I see the symptoms all the time. People who play the way I used to MUST practice every day. If they take one day off, the lump diminishes and it takes too long to get it back again. But that's not the worst of it. The hardest thing is the endurance. I'm about to contradict myself from an earlier post, but people who rely on this lump have a limited amount of endurance. As the playing day moves on, the lump gets bigger and bigger and eventually the swelling is so bad that they can't get the lips to vibrate anymore. To these players, this is what they consider fatigue........but it's not a muscular fatigue at all. It's more like tissue damage than it is fatigue.

So, for these players, a day off can hurt........and two weeks off can be ruinous. I didn't like being trapped into that kind of playing. The only thing I liked about my playing at that time was my sound.....and even that had its off moments. So I decided to change to a more muscular embouchure. My reasoning was that, if I used my lip MUSCLES instead of this swelling (which by that time I had learned to recognize) there would be no limit to my growth on the trumpet. Muscles grow. It's biology. But the manipulation of inflamation has no natural growing process. The only thing you can do with swelling is learn how to pace its effects.

Getting to the point.......if you use a muscular embouchure as opposed to what I've called in the past an "Inflamation Based Embouchure", then the muscles need time to recover after a workout. It's just like working out at the gymn.
You have to take time off or the growth won't follow. The reason for this is that the actuall growth doesn't happen while you practice........if it did, then we would get stronger towards the end of a practice session....not weaker. Thus, its the time off AFTER the practice session which produces muscular growth.

So there's my slant on this issue. People who have muscular embouchures should take "scheduled" days off while people who rely on the inflamation should never take days off. I know both of these ways well because I've played both of these ways.

Now, at the risk of sounding like a salesman, I will mention that my efforts to switch from being an inflamation based player to being a muscular player produced two books.....which have become by far my best selling books. The first, "The Physical Trumpet Pyramid", is a verbal description of the concept, in full detail. The second, "Daily Routines", is a set of routines which were built upon that concept. If you'd like to know more about "Daily Routines", I've created a website just for that book. You can visit it at:

I hope no one is offended that I've mentioned my books in this context.

Eddie Lewis
Houston, TX