Buckner, Dr. Jim: The Warm Up

There are four main reasons to warm up:  the trumpet player needs to be prepared mentally and physically, a good warm-up prevents injury, and a properly designed routine maintains and increase skill levels.  It is important to realize that every day is like starting over, a chance to do things the correct way, like Wynton Marsalis and other great trumpeters, or the chance to do things as we have always done them.

As you play your warm-up routine, several goals should be kept in mind.  Large, vigorous, free-flowing air is essential to playing well.  Proper embouchure development will occur if you concentrate on developing a beautiful tone .  Emphasize moving smoothly between notes as well.

There are seven aspects to a good warm-up routine.  First, the blowing system need to be warmed up.  Take three full, silent breaths to remind yourself of your lung capacity.   (See Breathing.)  Second, be sure that the mouthpiece is placed correctly.  Third, buzz the mouthpiece — play sirens (like the old black-and-white police cars) to work on lip coordination and play melodies.  The melodies should include both tonguing and slurring.

The fourth aspect is your tone quality.  Play simple, short melodies that move by step or third.  Play with the best sound you can get, and every day strive for a better sound.  Play these melodies in a lot of different keys, and spend a least five to ten minutes on this.

Work on both high and low range should follow.  Play melodies that move higher and higher until you are playing as high as you can go.  Do the same for the low range.  The Range Expansion Slurs written by Vincent Cichowicz are particularly good and can be found in the Henderson Trumpet Handbook.

The last two things to include are tonguing (single, double, and triple) and fingering.  The Arban Complete Method and Clark Technical Studies are excellent sources for this work.  Be certain to play in the more interesting keys (with more flats and sharps — don’t think of them as harder, because then they are!).