The following is an excerpt from the text of Technical Studies for the Modern
Rehearsal and Performance
Rehearsal should simulate a performance situation. Strive for musical
results. Concentration on the musical results is the only consideration during
rehearsal or performance. Mentally rehearsing without the instrument is of great
value. Vividly picture yourself, with great attention to detail, executing a
flawless performance. Being well rehearsed produces confidence and comfort in
performance. Adrenalin is the cause of both nervousness and inspiration. A
comfortable, confident performer is able to focus this energy on the music and
produce an inspired product. When performing, you must be too busy playing to think
of yourself. Don't judge how you are doing. Concentrate, rather, on the music
and do the job at hand. When playing music, think music. Don't worry about
the mechanics. Mechanics must be relegated to habit during practice through
Always finish a playing session on your main instrument. If you mostly play
Bb trumpet and do a session on piccolo, flugelhorn, etc., return to the Bb
before packing up. Do things that will reorient and focus the embouchure and
reduce swelling. Long tones and careful playing (as in the warm-up) are most
beneficial. A warm-down is like a great runner walking out the kinks in his muscles
after a race. A brief warm-down helps prevent stiffening of the embouchure
The Value of Repetition
The purpose of practice is making good mechanics habitual. This establishes
consistency. Mechanics must be relegated to habit. This frees you to
concentrate on music!
As you practice or rehearse, disregard mistakes. Go on as if everything was
perfect. Then go back and repeat the attempt concentrating on the result you
desire. Don't try to "fix" anything. Repetition allows the body to find its own
way to achieve the result and then forms a good habit. Don't make an issue
over a mistake. It is already in the past.
Frequent repetition of interval studies helps make each distance (interval) a
habit and trains the ear to hear the next note before you play. Repetition tea
ches the body exactly the amount of work required to produce the desired
result. Pre-hearing activates the body's muscle memory and calls forth the desired
result without conscious physical effort.
Along with vivid pre-hearing and a steady blow, good timing solves all
technical problems. It is not how quickly your tongue, fingers, etc., move, but
rather how well all moving parts are synchronized that procuces facility and
clarity of technique. You must move as quickly between whole notes as between
consecutive sixteenth notes. When you pre-hear a passage imagine it in perfect
rhythm. Practice slowly and breathe in rhythm. Power is matter of coordination,
not strength. Practice technical exercises and written music much slower than
normal, concentrating on timing and synchronization of all moving parts.
Pre-hearing the Sound
Trumpet playing is largely a process of mental conceptualization. As you
play, you should sing in your mind and try to get the feeling of singing through
the instrument. Learn to hear the note before you blow. Submerge your mind in
the sound. Good intonation and centered sound come fro a combination of
pre-hearing and good playing mechanics. If you hear the intervals in tune, you will
play in tune. In view of this, singing and ear training are indispensable
disciplines for the serious brass player.
If you hear a passage in rhythm, you will play it in rhythm.
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Click here to view Pat Harbison's improvised solo over a chord progression similar to Confirmation, entitled "Conflagration"
Click here to view Pat Harbison's improvised solo over a chord progression similar to Prince Albert, entitled "Sir Walter Raleigh"