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I heard that trumpeters in a mariachi band are not allowed to pick up the trumpet until they have mastered playing with just the mouthpiece. How would I go about replicating this technique of mastering playing with only the mouthpiece? Are there any good exercises available?

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  • Hi, "I have heard...." is not a good way to open a question. Do you have any solid citations, either from musicians involved or printed "rules for admission" - like things? In the meantime, Talk with a trumpet teacher. I bet you'll find that mouthpiece-only practicing is strongly encouraged for all students. Jul 29, 2020 at 17:14

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Practice on mouthpiece alone is an outstanding way to develop trumpet playing. Here are some suggestions for approaching it.

  1. Hold the mouthpiece as loosely as possible so as not to pull it back against lips and teeth. I recommend thumb and ring finger if it's comfortable for one's hand. Try balancing the mouthpiece between the fingers rather than pinching it.
  2. Start with long tones. Begin at whatever pitch comes out naturally, then work gradually lower, then higher. There are several aspects to work on over time. a) Sustaining a steady pitch; b) A clean release at the end of the pitch — if the pitch is about to drop, stop there; c) A clean attack, so that the pitch begins immediately without fuzz, scoop, or a pinched sound.
  3. Once a long tone can be sustained at a pitch, add in crescendo and decrescendo. Make them as long, slow, and steady as possible without change in pitch.
  4. As one's tone develops, work on "sliding" through the entire comfortable range, both downward and upward. Starting from a middle pitch is best, especially early on.
  5. When your "slide" gets comfortable, begin to better differentiate pitches. For example, make it sound like a major, minor, or chromatic scale. No tonguing at this point, though, just sliding.
  6. Once the "slide" pitch definition is reasonably solid, start tonguing. Make sure that each pitch has the same clean attack, sustain, and ending as in the long-tone practice (see #2 above).
  7. Interval practice. Both tonguing and sliding. Practice intervals of each size, ascending and descending, at various points in one's range.
  8. Practice whatever music is on hand, mouthpiece alone: Arban, Clark, Stamp, Solo pieces, ..., whatever is lying around. If it sounds like music on mouthpiece alone, it will sound good on the trumpet.

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