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ITG Gadget Roundup

June 21, 2011

I love trumpet gadgets. It is fascinating to me the amount of time and energy trumpet players will spend trying to avoid practicing. It all started with the Pencil Exercise. I firmly believe the first Pencil Exercise was a bar bet between two trumpet players that went something like this:

Trumpet Dude #1: “I’ll bet that if I tell trumpet players that they can get stronger without practicing, I can get them to do just about anything.”

Trumpet Dude #2: “Okay, but it has to be something they can do anywhere, but makes them look completely ridiculous. I’ve got it: holding a pencil between your lips.”

Trumpet Dude #1: “That’s perfect. Everyone has pencils, it looks ridiculous, and the only possible benefit is brute strength, which is so helpful in trumpet playing.”

The Pencil Exercise led to Chop-Sticks, which led to the P.E.T.E, which has led to my new favorite: The OmbiSure. This is a fantastic piece of equipment. It is a tube roughly 6″ in length and 2″ in diameter. One end rotates to adjust the tension. The other end has a small piece of plastic tubing sticking out with a nodule at the end. The idea is to grip the nodule and pull the small plastic tube out, then release, in sets of 10-15. The gentleman working the booth referred to the exercise as “lip-ups”.

After seeing this, I set a time to bring some friends back and try it out. They said it looked more like a Shake-Weight for trumpet players. I found this to be both the funniest, and most accurate, description.

The Shake-Weight-for-Trumpet representative made all of the claims that always sell trumpet players:

1) Increased range
2) Increased endurance
and
2) Do this instead of practicing

Wow, so I can play higher, last longer, and all while practicing less?

No…no you can’t.

The other highlight from ITG is the Breath Awareness Tool. The beauty of this device is its simplicity. It is an elastic band which wraps around your mid-section. The band attaches at your belly button with velcro. Under the velcro is a small pillow. I, of course, had to try it out. After putting it on, this is how the conversation went:

Me: “Okay, what does it do?”

B.A.T. guy: “Take a deep breath in. (I did). Now blow it out. (I did). What does it feel like?”

Me: “It feels like my belt is too tight.”

He did not seem to appreciate my response. He went on to tell me that, with this device, a player will become much more aware of their breath (hence the name).

He gave no promises of increased range or endurance. Nor did he say I could do this instead of practicing. In other words, this thing has no shot.

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