A lot of DJs these days use traditional classical instruments in their music. Violins are very popular for this, as is the cello. But one of my favorites is the humble trumpet. The somewhat harsh sound of the trumpet can really make a strong impact on any electronic music piece.
Naturally, most DJs will just sample some trumpet playing, but if you really want to stand out, you’ll get yourself a live trumpeter. Even better, you’ll learn to play the instrument yourself. You don;t need to be an expert; you just need to learn a few simple techniques to add a lot to your music.
If you want to play the trumpet, you’ll notice one thing real fast. Your lips and face get tired almost immediately. It is an exhausting instrument to play, so you’re going to need lip endurance. This is often overlooked, but it is vital for any good player. If you need to play for a considerable amount of time, you’ll only be able to do so if your lips are used to it.
If they are not, do not force it. You never want to play to the point where your lips get bruised. When your face and lips start to feel tired, take a break. Never play beyond the point where your start to loose control.
Do not lose heart if you cannot play for very long. This is normal and all beginning trumpeters go through a period where they become fatigued quickly. Just keep working on your endurance and after a few days, you will be able to play a little longer. After a few weeks, you will be able to play for much longer. It just takes some time to get used to using your face and lips in this way.
One technique to speed up the process is to practice lip slurs. You also want to record the time your are able to play non-stop with out a break. Do this for a few days and you should be able to play longer as your skills and endurance progress. Most trumpet players start out not being able to play for long. They soon end up out of breath, their lips hurt and their face is hit by extreme fatigue.
In any case, if you feel these symptoms you should NOT continue to play the trumpet any more. As the continuous strain on your face muscles gets stronger, you are at risk for face muscle damage, which can’t be repaired without surgery. Always stop once you feel fatigue.
As you continue your lip endurance training you will notice that you can play longer without becoming fatigued as quickly. You want to keep working on your endurance, so try to practice at least once a day for 30 minutes to an hour with breaks in between. Never play continuously for very long without taking short breaks.
Even if you’ve built your endurance to the point where you don’t need breaks, take them anyway. It doesn’t matter if you do not feel fatigued. Your face muscles are being used in unnatural ways when you play the trumpet and they need their rest.
If you do not want sore and bruised face muscles, I highly suggest working on your endurance carefully. The greatest thing about building your endurance is that you can always build it higher and higher until you are able to play a whole concert without more than a 15 minute break.
When you first start playing the trumpet, you’ll only be able to blow a handful of notes before you get tired, so reaching the point where you can play an entire concert is pretty impressive. It doesn’t even take too long, but for our purposes it isn’t necessary to get to that point anyway.
While real trumpet players have incredible physical endurance, you do not need to match them. You just need enough to get through your DJ set and since you’ll just be supplementing your music with a few trumpet sounds here and there, you should be able to reach a good enough level of endurance in a week or two of daily practice.
One thing to note: endurance disappears. Even trumpeters who have been playing for many years and many concerts and have built their lip endurance to incredible levels can lose it. If they stop playing for a while, their endurance will go down quite a bit. That is why it is important to keep up your practice, if you want to keep up your trumpet playing endurance.
If you want to use the trumpet live during your DJ sets, it will take a bit of work to build up a decent level of endurance so you can achieve this goal. That said, if you just need to play a few notes for recording in the studio, you can skip most of the effort. Work on your endurance a little, but don’t spend too much time on it. Of course, it’s kind of cool to be able to play the trumpet, so there’s really no harm in practicing a bit every day or two, is there?