To Embouchure Hell and Back: One Trumpeter’s Experience with Pops McLaughlin’s 10-Week Pencil Exercise eBook, “Chops Builder.”

If you are interested in trying Pops’ pencil exercise program for yourself, be sure to read the full article. As I progressed, along with tracking the specifics of what and when I did each “workout,” I also logged and vented mainly the negative consequences of adding the exercise to my normal playing schedule. Skimming this article may give you the wrong idea. 

What you spend your time on is up to you. When it comes to the pencil exercise; not all people need to do it, not all people want to do it, and some people think it’s complete and total bullshit. That’s fine. My experience with isometrics is that while there can be a definite, initial downside, in the long-term, supplemental isometrics continue to be have a positive effect on my embouchure and trumpet playing.

One more thing. This article is really long. Too long. Way too long. So If you’re not seriously curious about some dude’s rationale, training experience and the horrible, horrible mistakes he made working the muscles of his mouth with a pencil, just move along.

Along with the whys, whats and future plans, I’ve also included some suggestions at the end of the article for how you might work isometrics into your routine if you feel like.

Continue reading

Fix Old Playing Habits & Play Better than Ever Before (from the Ultimate Comeback Kit)

How to Improve Old Playing Habits

As some of you are probably aware, being a comeback trumpet player gives you the unique opportunity to learn from your previous mistakes, correct course and rewire your old playing habits.

You may have also noticed that even after 10, 20, or even 30 years off the horn those old playing habits, and your feel of playing the trumpet are still there. That’s because any mental wiring you learn throughout your life never really goes away. Sure, it gets rusty and covered up without use, but those old neurological pathways are still there lurking in the darkness, waiting to take you down.

Because of this Continue reading

My Embouchure Change (*EXPLICIT*)


As some of you know, BTB ‘s humble beginnings were as a forum to get some ideas about playing out on paper, during, and after, a self-prescribed embouchure change.

I recently received questions about said embouchure change, and decided to write a deeply personal and moving account of the general process, why I chose specific directions in my playing, and what I currently commit to. Continue reading

*NEW* “FreeTB” Aperture Control Course Available!

Hey everybody – Just launched a new “FreeTB” course on learning to better control the aperture. This is a topic that’s gathered a lot of interest and has really helped to level-up my playing game. I think you’ll find a lot in the series if that’s what you’re into.

Here’s a screenshot of one of the videos.


The nine-part series dives head-first into the following aspects of aperture control: Continue reading

Understanding and Incorporating the Jazz Language (In VA) – BTBLOG Ep 7

Still waiting for that “light bulb” moment when it comes to understanding and incorporating the jazz language into your own playing? Here’s a super-easy, super-fun method for doing just that (straight from the teachings of one of the greatest improvisers ever). Enjoy!