Michael Laird-style ‘Warm Up!’

Whilst studying at the Royal College of Music I was lucky to get trumpet lessons with Michael Laird over a couple of years. Michael produced very good results and offered a thorough, no-nonsense approach built on a hugely successful career. He offered the experience of getting to the very top of the profession and staying there.

Michael Laird

Michael Laird

He often related his professional experiences but his ideas about a warm-up stick in my mind, particularly. I remember him saying that he the well known baroque trumpeter, Don Smithers from the USA, was staying in London. They both arranged to play together the next morning. Michael was raring to go but Don had to play his rigorous routine before indulging in the practice session. Michael said this extensive ‘warming up’ activity lasted so long he was able to go out and get his shopping done and by the time he returned, a couple of hours later, Don was ready!!!


I was warming up before my lesson with a few hastily played Charles Colin lip flexibility studies.  Michael explained that he didn’t consider those things to be ‘proper control’ and gave me his warm up page. He gave this to all of the students. I have since lost my copy but remember it going something similar to below (it was along these sort of lines anyway!). Michael liked to start his warm-up low because he liked to play with his embouchure as relaxed as possible. He needed it to be brief but thorough also, stating that he didn’t have time or energy to play a daily routine in the manner Don Smithers did.

Michael Laird-style warm up

I remember the late, great, trumpeter, James Watson relating that on Philip Jones Brass Ensemble tours, Michael would disappear before the commencement of rehearsals and the other members of the ensemble would hear him warming up prior to the start. ‘Jimmy’ said no matter how long they were on tour Michael would always sound great and be in fabulous shape because of this.



About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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