The temperature outside is freezing and you have to go out in it and play trumpet. How is this going to work?
How did you get yourself into this predicament
I know you are in the Marching Band and you are the Halftime entertainment. You were thinking “marching season should be over before it gets real cold”. But no, your football decides it is going to go on a winning streak and now finds itself in the playoffs. You read the game-day weather forecast and there are predicting wind with below freezing temperatures
Or you are in the Community Band and the director says he just signed up for the local Christmas Walk. Does he realize what the temperature drops to on a December evening? Not good.
So What Can You Do
I have looked at many places (like Reddit & Trumpet Herald) for suggestions on what you can do when you have to play in cold weather:
- Hold down all three valves and keep blowing hot air through your instrument
- Keep your mouthpiece in your pocket until you have to play
- Use a plastic mouthpiece
- Hold the mouthpiece in my mouth like a lollipop
- Use a little Carmex Classic Lip Balm on the lips
- Investing in a nice pair of gloves that you can still actuate the keys with. Also a pair of gloves that can accommodate a hand warmer. Someone recommended Achiou Winter Knit Gloves because you can use with a touchscreen like a smartphone.
- If you don’t use a valve cover, consider getting one.
- Use a high quality valve oil before the performance
Would You Use a Mouthpiece Not Made of Metal
One suggestion for cold weather was using a mouthpiece that was not made of metal. A metal mouthpiece in cold weather can be dangerous.
Would You Use a Wooden Mouthpiece
I have seen some post that people suggested mouthpieces made out of wood. They can be a bit expensive but I do like the way they look; very pretty.
Thomann Wood Mouthpieces
These are wood mouthpieces available through Thomann over in Germany. They are a bit pricey of around $80 US. I did see some nice comments about them:
” Mostly use it in situations where the 5C is too harsh. Even though the 5C is a rather conventional mp, the wood takes out some of the edges and reduces projection quite a bit. ”
” The one thing I observed that may be important for some is that my range does stay the same but playing the higher parts is a little more difficult than with a brass piece. “
How About a Plastic Mouthpiece
There are some people that are dead set against using a plastic mouthpiece. I am aware of the distaste some have with plastic mouthpieces but I want to offer solutions for playing in cold weather. Since using a plastic mouthpiece over a metal one in advantageous in cold, I am going to list the other many attributes of plastic mouthpieces:
- Trumpet mouthpieces made of plastic responds better than brass mouthpieces. This means they “speak” easier than metal mouthpieces
- It’s easier to play softly, with delicate, soft and clear attacks.
- The plastic mouthpieces sounds darker than both regular brass mouthpieces
- They can be very loud (See the Kelly Screamer Series)
- Plastic mouthpieces feel softer on the lips because they have more “give” to them than metal
- They can be very helpful for players with braces.
- Plastic mouthpieces are easier to “grip” with the lips because metal mouthpieces tend to be more slippery.
- Trumpeters that can get used to this increased grip that the plastic mouthpieces offers because of the less slippery surface, often experience an increase in endurance.
- Mouthpieces made of plastic is superior to use outside, in cold weather.
- The feedback is “faster / quicker” than with metal. This makes the relationship between the player and the horn more intimate.
Below is a list of some of the more popular plastic mouthpieces
Kelly Lexan Mouthpieces
The most popular of the plastic mouthpieces are the Kelly Mouthpieces. They are made for most brass instruments and come in a myriad of colors. They have without a doubt the most diverse plastic mouthpiece product line.
These listed here are not the entirety of the line but include the most popular and the ones that I like:
- Kelly Mouthpieces Screamer Lead Trumpet Mouthpiece
- Kelly Mouthpieces Trumpet Mouthpiece Crystal Clear 7C
- Kelly Cornet 7C Mouthpiece
- Kelly French Horn Mouthpiece
- Kelly Mouthpiece Small Shank Trombone 6-1/2AL Mouthpiece
- Kelly Euphonium 5G Mouthpiece
- Kelly 5G Bass Trombone Mouthpiece
- Kelly Mouthpieces 24AW Tuba Mouthpiece
Faxx Plastic Mouthpieces
Faxx has an entire line of mouthpieces. What they do is make copies of classic mouthpieces. Like their trumpet mouthpiece is a copy of the old Bach Mt Vernon mouthpiece. They make quality mouthpieces at a price that rivals the famous maker brands.
Besides metal they have a line of plastic mouthpieces:
- Faxx Clear Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece 7C
- Faxx Clear Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece 5C
- Faxx Clear Plastic Trombone Mouthpiece 6.5 AL
- Faxx Clear Plastic Bass Trombone Mouthpiece 6.5 ALL
- Faxx Clear Plastic Tuba Mouthpiece 24AW
Mutec 3C Plastic Trumpet Mouthpiece
There was one mouthpiece that kept coming up in most of the discussions about plastic trumpet mouthpieces; the Mutec 3C Plastic Trumpet mouthpiece.
What people were saying about it was:
- Very good response
- Pleasant sound
- The 3C cup makes it possible to use as a lead mouthpiece even though it is perhaps more suitable for “regular” playing.
- It is a great mouthpiece and it is very affordable. (Cheaper than the Kelly)
If you are like me and needed to have a cold weather mouthpiece, this may be the one that I would go with.
All Kidding Aside
It is no easy task than to be playing outside when the weather is cold. I am glad that those days are behind me. In the words of Mark Knopfler, ” I don’t do it no more but I used to could”.
I would love to know your thoughts on how you cope playing in cold weather. What are your Tips & Tricks. Let’s continue this conversation