It’s all about routine!

Tung Pham, Brass Instructor at The Lesson Studio
Tung Pham

by Tung Pham, Brass Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Having a steady routine will help any musician develop consistency in their playing and build a solid foundation for further development. For brass players in particular, having a routine is essential to building strength in the embouchure which is a necessary for players of all levels.  Routine exercises can happen in a number of different ways:

1)      The Warm Up – you have heard it before from band directors, choir teachers and private lesson instructors… “You need to warm up before you play!” Not warming up is the number one cause for not sounding good. 9 out of 10 teachers agree that negligence in warming up is the number one cause for bad intonation, lack of focus and bad breath. (ok, so maybe not bad breath). Having a well organized warm up routine based on fundamental techniques such as breathing and  building /maintaining tone are cornerstones.

Suggested warm ups include: long tones  (for breathing, air control, tone building) , scales (control, theory and finger technique)

2)      Flexibilities – regularly playing flexibilities is the quickest and most efficient way to make your “chops” (lips) hurt! 😉 It’s also the most efficient way to build strength in your embouchure. Playing brass instruments is an extremely physical undertaking that requires the coordination of many muscle groups that have to do with breathing, blowing, lower back, arms, hands and fingers. Regularly slurring passages and playing through flexibility etudes helps the player transcend physical restraints and refocus on creating music.

Suggested flexibility books: Max Schlossberg Technical studies, Advanced Lip Flexibilities for trumpet, Arban Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet

The most important idea of routine is consistency! Consistently going through warm ups and other exercises will show immediate results in how you play by reinforcing carefully placed good habits. Talk to your teacher about how to set up a good warm-up routine. Every time you pick up your instrument, it should be with purpose. For you naysayers at home, routine doesn’t mean to exclude learning new materials. Learning new concepts or music can also be put into routine. Parents can help facilitate the process of routine at home. Let’s get organized. Happy practicing!


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