Classical Trumpet Player Draws from Singers, Jazz, Miniature Golf, and More

Article excerpt

Trumpet player Judith Saxton of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL) recently went miniature golfing with her family on a particularly difficult course. While she has no formal golf training, Saxton was somehow able to score hole-in-ones on more than half of the course's holes.

Her secret, she says, is something that has also helped her to be a great trumpet player: mental visualization. "Your brain does not distinguish a difference between doing an action and imagining it," she explains.

Saxton credits this idea to a book one of her teachers, Vincent Cichowicz, who required her to read called The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey. According to Galley's website, "The Inner Game of Tennis is a revolutionary program for overcoming the self-doubt, nervousness, and lapses of concentration that can keep a player from winning."

Saxton noticed that this idea improved her trumpet playing after the first time she played golf, when she didn't know proper technique but visualized her goal of putting the ball in the hole.

"Every trumpet player that's come into my studio for the last 25 years has been working too hard," she says. "You can transcend that by putting your brain in a different spot, focusing, letting go, and getting very clear on your image, like putting it in the hole."

"I hear exactly what I want, trust the process, and just go," she says of her mental state while playing. "It's very much a mental discipline to let go."

Playing golf is not the only activity that Saxton says has a positive effect on her trumpet playing. She encourages playing and listening to music that is not in one's typical realm to help get the mind working in a different way. While she is classically trained, Saxton dabbles in jazz and says it has improved her musicianship greatly.

"I think everybody should do it, I really think it helps. Playing jazz helps all of your trumpet playing," she says. "It makes you be a good musician because you have to be able to hear, you've got to listen to the chords, which gets you out of yourself. It makes all of your playing more harmonically informed, so your whole sound changes."

She says she also gains a lot from just listening to different types of skilled musicians. Listening to Indian tabla drumming, for instance, helps her time-keeping ability because of its complex rhythmic patterns. …