Words I Say When I Teach Trumpet

S*%! Phil Says...

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a student about when I first began teaching in quantity. That was fall of 2001. I feel comfortable saying at that time my playing was at a high level and uniquely mine. My experience teaching one on one however was non existent. 

I was very aware of how much of my vocabulary seemed borrowed. I would channel so much directly from Charlie and Jeff and other influences. I wondered when that would change. I wondered when it would sound like my voice. 

For better or worse after 17 years and 80,000 lessons or so I have a voice. All of the below has been said and often better by others but these are in my voice. 

In no particular order I’ve made note of some of the things I often say. Perhaps one or two will strike you in a new and different way. 
  • Relax your mechanism.
  • Accuracy depends on structure
  • Only attempt each note once.
  • Don’t react to the past. Play the present.
  • Air comes before sound.
  • Don’t play “faster”, instead play the same in less time.
  • Time and pitch are not subjective.
  • Rhythm depends on beat.
  • Always play like its right
  • Confidence is a role you play.
  • Notes are only forward. High and Low are meaningless words.
  • Choose science instead of superstition.
  • Zoom out and observe your story.
  • Correctness of embouchure is determined by the beauty of the sound it creates.
  • If you’re smart your future self will thank you for today’s practice.
  • Act like you’ve learned something since sixth grade.
  • My patience is faster than your impatience.
  • “Breathe” has a different meaning when the trumpet is in your hand. Train the connection.
  • Make calmness the first goal.
  • Be willing to start over every day.
  • You don’t buzz your lips...the air does.
  • Acknowledge the beauty in your imperfection.
  • Don’t be boring.
  • Play good trumpet.
  • Respect your fatigue.
  • You get stronger while resting.
  • Lack of familiarity and difficulty are often confused.
  • Less thinking more reading
  • You don’t need to remember it. You need to see it!
  • Don’t mark it. It’s already marked.
  • Always search for the overlap of ease and beauty.
  • Even with the slide in you’re still playing leadpipe.
  • Retreat to a point of calmness and control.
  • The answer is hiding in the search.
  • There was something you didn’t hear yesterday. Look for it today.
  • Before you can be beautiful you have to turn in the right answers.
  • The discipline to be correct will make you stand out in a room full of mistakes.
  • Risks are exciting.
  • Don’t confuse completion with mastery.
  • Ask for better and you’ll get it.
  • Adreline increases with excitement. Sweating increases when running. Don’t be afraid of your biology
  • Breathe with awareness and energy.
  • You are unique and valuable. Make a sound that reflects that.
  • Chase the experience.
  • Your playing isn’t something that happens to you like the weather.
  • Be correct.
  • Decide what you want.
  • What are you playing and why are you playing it.?
  • Dont keep re-solving the same problem.
  • You won’t win a chili cook off with everyone else’s recipe.

How To Form The Perfect Trumpet Embouchure

It's finally here...

My definitive guide for forming the perfect trumpet embouchure from the very beginning. If you have any questions or hit any snags I'd love to hear from you!


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