The biggest hurdle most trumpeters face in live performances–this includes auditions, recitals, orchestral concerts, quintet performances–is missing too many notes.

Blame digital recordings, if you will, for making editing incredibly easy and thus more common, forever raising the standard of excellence to near perfection. But the reality is, audiences, conductors, and judge panels alike need to hear a CLEAN performance in order to enjoy it.

Do NOT misinterpret this to mean that a clean performance equals a successful performance!

However, too many missed notes can and will eventually distract your audience from the music to a point of no return.

You’ve lost ’em.

Now, to make matters worse, we trumpeters tend to measure our worth as a musician with equipment, i.e. trumpet and mouthpiece size. Big equipment is very trendy right now. You may have heard that that playing Petroushka on Eb trumpet (GASP!) makes you a worthless wimp. This mentality DOES NOT get us closer to our goal!

Tip: Note accuracy is a result of 1) your imagination creating the specific sound of the note in your head and 2) your body to transforming the sound into physical reality. Doing this well is a result of proper practice (more on this in a later post).

Equipment is a factor. If you did a blind test and played a series of mouthpieces from small to large, the largest will almost always sound the best (especially up close). This does not mean it is the right choice, nor that it will even sound the best in a musical setting. Keep this in mind when choosing equipment. The right set up is the one that helps you to do the best job. Period!

You must determine what this means for you. A freelancer might require more middle sized equipment than someone with a more specialized position, i.e. a 4th trumpet in a symphony orchestra or lead trumpet in a big band. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with taking out different equipment for a different job. For example, you may wish you could achieve that super dark sound on your Bb for Mahler 3’s offstage solo, but using a flugelhorn might be a better choice. Sure, it would be great to nail Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra on C trumpet, but the chance of missing the high note when using an Eb trumpet goes down to almost 0%. Somehow, we’ve developed this idea that easy = wimpy. Trust me, having a job rules. Being a hero and cracking notes in vain doesn’t. We trumpeters don’t have it easy, and any advantage is a HUGE advantage. Take advantage of them!

You’re a musician. Don’t act like a hero–sound like one!

You don’t have to buy an Eb, D, Piccolo, C, Cornet, Rotary, and Natural trumpet to succeed as a trumpeter. Access to these instruments is all you need. If you don’t have a friend or teacher that is willing to lend you and instrument, click here to contact me about renting one for cheap. This is all experimental; it was created after realizing just how many players lack access to fine auxiliary instruments. I want to help. I hope you find this useful! -Chris

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