1. Think long term but set short term goals.
Rome wasn't built in a day, good things take a while. But they'll also stick around if gained masterfully through solid practice habits. Own that next highest note, for example, by reaching for a half step higher on alternate days of practice. (See tip no. 2 for more about heavy v. light days of practice.) The long term goal is to increase range. The short term goal is to reach 1/2 step higher every 2-3 weeks. Be patient and be careful. Another example would be to take two sections of music that are difficult, and work only those sections - resisting the urge to play through the entire piece. One last example that we all are interested in is increasing our breath capacity. So pick a pattern or exercise (Clark Study or Stamps) that has repeats. Try to make it one time through in one breath. Then try for half again as much on one breath. Rest and try once more to maintain the half again amount. The next day, stretch to 2 times in one breath. It might take several days in between to achieve the half again amount, but soon you'll be able to play the exercise 3 or 4 times which also has the effect of increasing endurance and flexibility.
2. Follow a pattern of heavy days alternated with lighter days.
On heavier days, stretch your range by reaching only 1/2 step higher than your current highest note. The next day, only warm up to your highest note. Stay on the 1/2 step higher note for your heavier days for a week or two. As you extend in the upper register, also extend the lower register. Use 123 fingering at first for all pedal tones (low F and below). James Stamps's book, Warm Ups+Studies is the go-to resource for this kind of extension. Remember: As you extend higher, you should also be extending lower.
3. Practice breathing exercises away from the horn.
One of the best breathing exercises I've used is the hold and sip. My first trumpet teacher taught it to me. Here's how to do it:
4. Give yourself extra time to breathe.
Most of us wait until it's time to play before we start inhaling. Not good! Try focusing on inhaling into the belly 2 beats before the entrance you're about to play. Get in the habit of thinking ahead and preparing the breath. But try to avoid holding it at any point. Rather try to play when the breath is at its maximum point of fullness so that you are constantly playing from fullness rather than starting on half full. When starting half full or at comfort level of the lung capacity, there's no place to go but tense. Not good!
5. Be a leader in your school ensemble.
The way to be a leader is to become independently able to maintain tempo and to play the right notes in the right rhythms even if there isn't a room full of people to play along with. Practice with a metronome, and use your imagination to fill in the blanks of the absent band members' parts. When you're in an ensemble, continue using your imagination when you're no longer able to hear yourself as well. Use the knowledge gained from solo practice to guide you, and you'll find others will follow the person with the idea formed in their own head.
6. Practice articulations early in your warm up.
Start with single tonging scales. I recommend the Ernest Williams Method of Scales for this type of practice. Vary the articulations so that you start out tonguing only the beginning of the measure, then on each beat of the measure, then only on beats one and three, until finally at the end, all except the first two notes are tongued. Keep the notes long and even so that none are shorter than any other. It's like a water faucet turned on and you're passing your hand under the stream of water to create breaks. The water is not turned on and off, rather the hand is "articulating" on the water stream. Have this idea in mind when practicing your articulation and go for as clean a seam between notes as possible. You'll find the tongue has to move very quickly at the last moment, and strike cleanly behind the upper teeth to achieve the desired result.
7. Finally, remember that where ever we have the most difficulty is the very area that will yield the greatest benefits to our playing once we've overcome its challenge.
The benefits of increased range and endurance benefit us in so many ways, we can't even count them. The benefits of cleaner articulation and better breath control can move us from point A to point P or Q on the line in a matter of weeks. So, even though we take a long term view, when we're in the trenches working these things out, time seems to stand still. It helps to remember that the light of day is literally a few hours away, and you're only a few hours away from hearing it in your own playing.
KEEP UP THE GREAT PRACTICING!
I'm a trumpet player and music teacher setting out in this blog to help other Trumpeters, Music Enthusiasts, Music Educators, and aspiring professionals reach their highest potential in life through the study and cultivation of musical skills.