music

It Begins: The Great Chop Revival of 2014

beginningsI just finished my first of 50 consecutive practice sessions to get my chops back on the trumpet. I’ve never really lost sight of the fact that playing trumpet (or any brass instrument) is such physical experience, but starting out today really brought that into focus.

Playing trumpet is a lot like lifting weights. You can’t just load up a barbell with a bunch of weights and expect to lift it, or lift it and end up hurting yourself. Similarly on trumpet, when you’re out of shape or haven’t played for a while, you won’t be able to play as long or as high in the register. One’s tone often takes a hit too; out of shape chops tend to have a more airy sound. On top of this, the fingers and the tongue (yes the tongue!) will be lagging as well. The fingers are how you change the pitches to a degree—much of it is done with the lips—and the tongue is you articulate a note, making it crisp or soft or accented in some fashion. Without regular workouts, all these elements will be weak or non-existent.

Today, most of my elements were pretty weak. My tone was decent and I was able to play my scales at a pretty good click, but it was a little sloppy and I couldn’t keep it up for long. I’m going to have to take it slow and constantly remind myself that I’m exactly where I need to be. It isn’t a race and I don’t have anyone to impress. This is about finding my way back to something that has shaped my life, and seeing where we are with each other once all the fog has cleared.

It feels good to start this journey—it’s time.

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