Tag Archives: trumpet instruction

Extreme Long Tones

I remember my dad always practicing long tones growing up, telling me to do them, and telling his other students the same.  I know he has found them to be super effective in building endurance and stamina in the embouchure.

I found this “extreme” long tone exercise from Cat Anderson (jazz trumpeter with Duke Ellington) on the website http://brassmusician.com/              

Cat Anderson was known for his huge range (5 octaves) and credited his “20 Minute G” Exercise for that fact.  See below for the exercise as explained by Jon Gorrie.

“20 Minute G” Exercise

Like a whisper

In his method book from 1973, Cat Anderson instructs the student to play a 2nd line G (concert F) “like a whisper” for 20 minutes. The student is allowed to breathe when necessary, and is also allowed to take the mouthpiece off the lips when doing so.

More than just a high note exercise

Many ‘high-note’ players, including Anderson himself, have claimed that the “20 minute G” is the secret to their upper register. Although practised correctly, this exercise can be much more than an upper register exercise. Played with relaxed breathing and a suitable rest period afterwards, the “20 minute G in a whisper” may aid in overcoming excessive mouthpiece pressure, building endurance, aid control and articulation, and, as Anderson mentions, improve upper register playing.

Resolving tension

The thought behind this is that whilst carrying out this one simple exercise, your mind is free to focus on areas of your body where you are holding tension. Where tension is found, it can then be gradually resolved, leading to a more efficient overall physical ‘setup’.

How to get started

To get started with the “20 minute G”, one suggestion is to begin with the “30 second G”, increasing the duration of the exercise over several days to 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and so on.

Endurance and Loud Playing

Here is a helpful mini-lesson I found on the blog called The Trumpet Gearhead.  The short article on endurance and loud playing is actually some instruction from non other than David Bilger, principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  I plan to try these out soon!


Editor’s note: The following excerpt is written by David Bilger and used with his permission. It describes an exercise for improving power and endurance that Mr. Bilger learned from Renold Schilke.  Mr. Bilger currently is Principal Trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and was previously Principal of the Dallas Symphony. He currently teaches at The Curtis Institute of Music and Temple University in Philadelphia.


As is the case with range, endurance is also a combination of many of the topics we have already touched upon, and will benefit from many of the same etudes. The two other things that will most quickly improve endurance are efficiency and loud practice.

1. Efficiency is a necessity for any brass player. Playing the trumpet is extremely physical, and efficient playing will reduce the demands on the player. Efficiency can be achieved by taking care of the following:

  • Always use a good volume of air, and high air speed
  • Always play with your embouchure set
  • Do not use excessive pressure
  • Practice upper body relaxation
  • Always think about what you are doing while you play


2. Loud practice is another part of trumpet playing that is often overlooked. Remember, when practicing at loud dynamic levels, always keep your sound from distorting, and never cause yourself physical pain. Do not use excessive pressure! Orchestral excerpts are a good source of loud material, as are the Brandt Orchestral Etudes. Perhaps the best resource for loud playing are the Schilke Power Exercises. Playing 5 minutes of these a day will be all you need to develop the necessary strength for increased endurance.

Mr. Bilger writes specifically about this exercise:

I had the pleasure and honor of working with Mr. Schilke for a week at the Banff Centre in 1980 when he was hanging out with the Canadian Brass who were on the faculty there. During that week he showed me the power exercises that I outlined in my master class materials. I have all my students do them!

They should be played at quarter note = 60, and with huge quick breaths after every four half notes. And most importantly, they should be played as loud as the player can control, with attention being paid to stability of sound and pitch, as well as dynamic. They are designed for developing an “orchestral” sound, but are of use to all players who want to develop additional power in their playing.

Transpose into different keys.

(right-click and open in new tab/window to get an enlarged view of the exercise)

Power Exercise-Bilger