It’s quite simple, really. End every practice session on a good note. Finish with something positive lingering in your mind, rather than that missed high C or that muffed soft passage. Playing the trumpet is trying enough on our state of mind. Give yourself a little help and put that old cliché to work. You’ll be glad you did.
June 14th, 2007 § Comments Off § permalink
In the last article I wrote, School’s Out: What Now?, I mentioned that summertime would be a great time to focus on fundamentals. Specifically, I mentioned that it would be good to focus on what I call foundation and skill set exercises. If you don’t know what I mean when I use these terms, you will find it beneficial to read Fundamentally Speaking.
A good basic foundation routine will include some type of centering exercises and some solid strength work. Here is what I did today:
James Stamp – Warm Ups + Studies:
- First Exercise – Lips Alone
- Buzz a Bb on mouthpiece to adjust to the tension needed when buzzing a mouthpiece
- Second Exercise – Mouthpiece
- #3 – Mouthpiece
- #3 – Bb Trumpet
- #4b – Bb trumpet (softly)
Power Scale (2 reps) – more on this another time. You could also do 2-4 times through the Caruso 6 notes exercise.
After that I rest for at least 45 minutes before continuing with the skill set. Today it was actually a couple of hours. Also, my skill set today was slightly abbreviated and I plan on adding some initial attacks and multiple tonguing later in the day. Here is what I did:
Herbert L. Clarke – Technical Studies: Study #2 + Etude
Bai Lin – Lip Flexibilities: #’s 1, 7, 11, 13, 17, and 19.
Chris Gekker – Articulation Studies: #1 (using various styles of articulation)
All of this can be done in 45 min – 1 hour not including the rest period. If you are in good shape then you can also combine these two sessions quite easily. At the end of the day, I will come back to the last part of my foundation routine: strength building. My favorite exercise to use is the One Long G exercise.
Hopefully this will provide some good detail oriented clarification for you. I hope you find success with it. Now it is time for me to go do some practicing of my own. Enjoy!
When I am not practicing, teaching, enjoying time with the family, or writing, yet managing to not collapse into a heap on the floor; I enjoy riding my bicycle. I am also a big fan of bicycle racing, and I subscribe to a magazine called Cycle Sport, which covers the sport and its athletes. As I was reading Cycle Sport a few days ago, I came across a very interesting statement by Viatcheslav Ekimov. Now, I’m sure 98% of you have no idea who Viatcheslav Ekimov is. For a detailed bio, you can click the link above. If you aren’t wanting to invest that much time, all you need to know for the purposes of this post is simply that he is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist who is now 40 years old, and still racing competitively. Also, it is worth noting that he has completed the Tour de France an astounding 14 times. When asked how he explains his longevity and success in a sport where most athletes retire by the age of 35, he replied:
Organization keeps me in good shape, and it gives me motivation. I wake up, and I know what I am going to do today. Tonight, I know what I am going to do tomorrow.
Before I turned pro I was in cycling school for ten years (that’s USSR Cycling School), and the program was organized from early morning to late in the evening. When I turned pro I tried to stay the same way.
Simple, yet highly effective advice for most any walk of life.
I have spent a great deal of time writing articles and blog posts on this website that deal with how to structure a daily fundamentals routine. That is important, and I stand by what I have written. However, it is also necessary to point out that a routine mustn’t become a portal we must pass through in order to be able to play the trumpet. It is so easy for us to become so bogged down by routine, that we never actually get to practicing music. And it is in music that we will still face our biggest challenges, and see our greatest opportunity for development.
When you look at some of the greatest trumpet players — past and present — you don’t always find a long, diligent, unwavering practice routine. I keep thinking about what my trumpet teacher, Ray Crisara, used to tell me about his routine: “I would just show up 15 minutes or so before a session and play through my daily drills. It would take me about 12 minutes to be ready to go. Of course, if I didn’t have 12 minutes, then I would have to be ready in whatever time I had.” This is important to remember amongst a lot of discussion about foundation routines and skill set routines. Just imagine how much music you would be able to play over the course of your life, if you only spent 12 minutes a day on your fundamentals. Sometimes we make this whole trumpet playing thing a lot more difficult and complicated than it needs to be.
It’s food for thought…
Sometimes the hardest thing about practicing is simply starting. At the end of a long day it is sometimes difficult to find the motivation to practice. On a night when you feel tired and rundown it is difficult to summon the energy and discipline to practice. If you actually make yourself get in there and get to work, though, you will soon find yourself energized and motivated. What better reason to practice could there be?