We are most often paying attention to the upper side of our ability – how high we can play, how fast we can tongue, how loud, how soft . This is all very important but we should not lose sight of the importance of the bottom – the bottom is our ability on a day we are feeling our worst or at the end of a long day of playing. It is more important to move up the bottom than the top; our goal is to make sure that what we are required to do as performers is always within the means of that bottom. The top can go up and down with how we feel but we should be always able to count on the bottom. We raise that bottom through constant application of a routine; it is a slow process but at advanced levels it should progress in a steadier manner than improvement on the top. The bottom is easy to forget when our focus may be to move our range from high c to d but it is very important to remember that our goal in the end is consistency which really is the essence of moving up the bottom.
Shawn Spicer is principal trumpet of Orchestra London Canada and teaches trumpet at the University of Western Ontario. He has performed with True North Brass on a number of occasions, most recently our performances in Toronto, Penticton and Haliburton.