You can have the best technique in the world and the best teacher in the world, but without the correct psychological approach your playing is going to fall far short of the mark.
Those high notes that sometimes you can get and sometimes you can’t, could be an indication that your psychological approach is at fault.
I’m not a psychologist, but I do have a lot of experience playing the trumpet and know that there is more to it than just technique. While studying trumpet and piano at the Royal College of Music for four years I observed some of the country’s finest young players, and witnessed what it takes to be the best of the best.
Being able to bring off a difficult passage or reach that high note sometimes - on a good day, when you’re feeling fine, you’re not too hot or cold, and the girl or guy you have a crush on has just accepted your invitation for a dinner date - is not good enough in the world of a professional musician.
Correct technique and approach is vital, but more is needed – determination and confidence.
As you approach the high note or difficult passage when the pressure is on, you have to know that you can do it. Assuming you get it right every time you practise, this time is going to be no different.
So, for every trumpet player out there, practise often, practise intelligently, making every note count every time you play, letting those difficult passages flow effortlessly, and those high notes sing out.
To achieve this you need quiet confidence. This is different from an arrogant ‘I’m the greatest’ type of confidence. It’s an inner confidence that tells you not only that you can do it, but you will do it, and will do it with ease.
I saw on YouTube a video of Maurice Andre playing Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.2 – one of the most demanding works for the trumpet. He exudes confidence with every note he plays. For him it is not a struggle – it’s a joy.
Adopting a positive mental attitude – along with a copious amount of practise, of course – will take your playing to a whole new level.
This, in a nutshell, is trumpet psychology, albeit easier to write than actually to do.