Please no more email guys!!
Wow, this just goes to show that lots of folks really want range. Since I
replied casually to a post about increasing range, my mailbox is full of
inquiries. Since I don't have a big media name, you guys are certainly
trusting (or desperate for info) on this subject. Luckily for you, I can
indeed play, and can give you some guaranteed exercises, none of which
originate with me. However, used in combination they DO work for anyone
willing to go the distance.
BRUCE'S SCREAMER CLUB EXERCISES
DISCLAIMER--The effectiveness of these exercises is lost if your tone
production technique is flawed. Generally, your chops must be close and
relaxed while playing, you must use proper air volume and velocity, etc. I
am not addressing these issues, and if this does not sound like what you are
doing, get a teacher to correct these problems. I'm also not addressing
"fingers" or overall musical expertise, which are both prerequisite to any
EXERCISE 1--THE GOOD OLD PENCIL THING
Get an unsharpened wood pencil. Close your teeth, and place the unsharpened
end against them. Wrap your lips around the pencil, and let go, holding the
pencil straight out in front of your face with only the muscles in the lips
and surrounding area. Continue holding it straight out until your muscles
burn. Rest. Repeat.
EXERCISE 2--PUCKER UP
Push your lips out as far as you can in an overly exaggerated pucker. Now
focus the energy even harder, as if you have to hold some tiny object "in"
this pucker by drawing your lips into an exremely tight drawstring effect.
Hold this position until the muscles burn. Rest. Repeat.
As in Exercise 2, push your lips into the most concentrated pucker possible.
Now reverse that facial expression and smile as widely as possible.
Alternate between these two positions as fast as you can. Do this until the
muscles burn. Rest. Repeat.
This is a DAILY regimen. Alternate these exercises in each "session" and
keep it up for a couple of months MINIMUM. You will see results much sooner
than that, but what you are trying to do is build the muscle in your face to
extreme levels of size and strength. After a couple of months, every other
day will maintain your progress. As with any physical conditioning,
progress will come in leaps and plateaus. It's important to keep exercising
through the plateaus to reach the next leap. It is also VERY important to
do each of these exercises until you feel pain in the muscles being worked.
Unlike playing the horn until you feel discomfort, which is highly
destructive, the "pain" you feel in these exercises are the muscles telling
the body and brain, "HEY, I need some help here, sign me up for some
increased tissue." It's the equivalent of sending your face to the gym for
some serious buffing up.
So many players with poor endurance will just slave away on the horn,
building bad habits and damaging tissue as they go. This can easily make a
player, especially a young one, feel that progress will never come. And
indeed it may not. Trumpet playing is an incredibly physical activity, the
forces required for extended range being extreme.
Just as a football team begins spring training doing everything BUT playing
football, a trumpet player needs to build an extraordinary facial muscle
base before reaching success. It can certainly be done on the horn, but
this is the SLOW way. I believe, and have ample evidence in my own playing
that this series of exercises WILL do the trick.
An added benefit...you will never need a facelift. <g> These exercises WILL
change even the appearance of your face, greatly enlarging the ring of
muscle around your mouth.
Best wishes to anyone who tries this method. I have used it in my own
private and class teaching over the years, and have passed this method on to
many of my colleagues in the education biz. Nobody that has given it a
serious application has failed to reach the goal of greater endurance and
extended range. It's just common sense.
Bruce A. Richardson
Purple Iguana Productions