A Rant: It takes TIME!!!!!!

Discussion in 'TM Lounge' started by trickg, Sep 24, 2005.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I wanted to share with you guys a rant that I went on last night, triggered by my 11 year old son. We were driving along, going on some errands early yesterday evening and talking about some things, and he made the comment "I would like to play drums too, but I'm not very good." (This is in relation to the drum kit that I have set up in the basement that I practice on quite a bit - drums are another musical passion of mine.

    Anyway, the thing that set me off about his comment is that he has probably collectively spent less than 3 hours behind that kit in the 2.5 years that I have owned it.


    When I was a freshman in HS, I would be at the school at 7:45, warming up for band which was 1st period. (8:15) Then, after lunch, I would head up to the band room and play for a bit prior to Jazz band/show choir (I was in both) that was 6th period. After school, I would go back up into the band room and get out my horn and play. Why? Because I LOVED playing my horn. THEN, during the sports seasons, I would be BACK at the school, playing my horn for pep band. As a rough estimation, I spent 3-4 hours a day with a trumpet in my hands - maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less.

    The point is, I became proficient - good, if you will - not because I was practicing the right things, or putting in all kinds of quality practice on my horn. I developed as a player because simply put, I was behind the horn all of the danged time! My technique developed naturally, (up to a point) because I was just playing the horn all of the time. Playing trumpet was what I enjoyed doing most, and therefore, any chance that I got I headed back to the band room so that I could get out my horn and play.

    This is also precisely why my son is so good at playing X-Box games - simply put, he puts in the time. If he spent half the time toward his musical endeavors as he spends with those cursed game systems, he would advance MUCH faster as a player.

    And you should hear him play drums. For no more time than he puts in, the times I've heard him play, he has natural coordination and ability to play them, not to mention solid time for an 11 year old kid. It would be scary how good he would get if he spent the time on them that I do.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant. For the HS kids reading this - at this stage, it isn't so much what you practice, although that can help, but you have to put in the time. Becoming proficient with an instrument isn't something that just naturally happens for most people, and your best bet for developing the fundamental skills has as much to do with sheer volume of practice as it does with what you are practicing. Of course, this is just my opinion.

    Sorry for the rant.
  2. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Pianissimo User

    Looking back on my teenage years, I played a lot, practiced a bit but not nearly enough. However, when I started getting gigs (and got paid for some of them too) I concentrated a bit more on things as "the penny had dropped" that I could get more out of this "trumpet playing malarkey" if I put more effort in.
    End result, by playing gigs (mostly) I funded myself thru my degree (in Applied Computing).

    Maybe the penny may drop for your lad some day soon.

    I personally find computer games an utter waste of time. Totally unproductive selfish activity with no real benifit to anyone (except the manufacturers!!)
  3. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    David, it wasn't until I was a Junior in HS that I started to work on specific technical aspects of in playing - mostly due to losing a trumpet solo award as a Sophomore that I figured I would simply walk away with. At that point, I knew that in order to be competitive at music contests the next year, I was going to have to clean up some things and get to work.

    Then, when I became an Army bandsman, it was no long about "winning" and it was about being the best musician that I could be and therefore I spent more time in the woodshed practicing specific things. But I digress.

    I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that it seems like there has been a fundamental shift in society where kids these days either don't want to put in a lot of work for things, or they think that it shouldn't take a lot of work. I have at times in the past several years given parents and kids advice about learning an instrument and I always make sure to tell them that in the beginning stages of learning to play an instrument, bulk time is necessary if they want to go anywhere with it. I just figured that my son, of all people, would have already picked up on that, and I was dismayed when it appeared that he hadn't.
  4. silverstar

    silverstar Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 6, 2005

    I see what you're saying. You can't get good at anything if you don't do it.

    BUT....time with the horn in your hands isn't everything. You need to be practicing smartly. Going out of your comfort zone sometimes. (Which I still haven't learned how to do.) A good warm up, scales, fundamentals, musical stuff....whatever you need to practice...and a good WARM DOWN all help. I know too many people who spend 1/2an hour to 60minutes "practicing"...mainly playing through stuff that's fun, easy, and stuff they know they can do already. No warm up, no scales...no technical stuff...nada. Just playing bits and pieces of this or that.

    Ok..that got really long winded, but I'm trying to say that time isn't everything...it's what you do when you have the horn in your hands.

    tedh1951 likes this.
  5. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003

    you are right, I just wish my kids at school thought like you do.

    Work = Force x Distance

    If you didnt get any better than you didnt practice.

    How do I make Middle school kids get that ? :?:
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    For my first 5 or 6 years of playing, fortunately, I had the ability to continue to improve by only playing the fun stuff and the repertoire we needed to play in order to function as a part of the band - when I first hit high school, the band had yet to slide far from it's powerhouse position that it held for quite some time, so pretty much everything we played was challenging, even if it didn't delve into the finer points of playing technique such as double and triple tonguing, or scale work and technical exercises. We regularly played music out to four sharps and flats, so by just being a part of the norm, I was exposed to quite a bit. Like I said, I was fortunate that for me, simply putting in time enough to continue to push my basic techique - single tonguing, lip slurs, reading rhythm, and about 6 or 7 scales. I had never even HEARD of the Clarke technical studies until AFTER I started winning awards at music contests.

    I think that up to a point, it's ok to simply play instead of practice - in order to play ANYTHING, you have to develop basic fundamental technique and that can be gained by simply putting in the time. The last thing I would want to do with a new student would be sit them down with the Clarke technical studies, or stuff out of Arban's. There is plenty of music that would be fun to play that while it might not quite push the limits of technique like some regular studies, would certainly be more fun for the student. Up to a point, who cares WHAT they are practicing, long as they ARE practicing?
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    So, 11 year old zombie thread, but it's my thread, and it's an update about my son, who will be 22 next month.

    At one point my son decided he wanted to play guitar, so I got him a guitar - nothing fancy, just a Fender Squier Bullet Stratocaster that cost about $100, and a cheap little 10 watt solid state practice amp that cost about $30. Then we got him some lessons, and he was progressing pretty well, so we upgraded him into an Epiphone SG that a friend of mine, a guitar tech, dropped some decent electronics into. Then, once I saw some real promise in his playing, I did what some would consider to be a pretty silly thing - I got him a really good guitar, a $2000 Gibson Les Paul Standard. There's a whole story about the selection of that guitar, (it's a gem among Les Pauls - a really nice one) but that's a different story for another time.

    What happened next was pretty cool. He LOVED (and still loves) that Les Paul, and he practically wouldn't put it down. He put in countless hours on that guitar, learning songs, working technique, and expanding his ability and musical knowledge.

    At this point he's a very capable guitar player, but it's funny how my rant from 11 years ago has come full circle. You see, my son gets irritated when someone says something to him to the effect of, "yeah, I wish I had the talent to play guitar like that." The reason he gets so irritated is because at this point, he knows that the reason he plays the way he does is because of the TIME he has put into it. Yes, he is talented, but talent without hard work goes nowhere.

    He has busted his hump to be able to play like he does, but it has paid off. Right now he's on a short 10-day tour with his band, and he just finished a record project with a friend's band. (and quite likely, soon to be his band as well) The entire record was written by him, his friend (the lead singer) and the producer, and last Friday marked the end of that 4 month process of writing, refining, recording demos, and then tracking leads and solos for the record.

    Here's a bit about the band for the record project he just finished - Have Mercy. Right now they are kind of at the top of the indie band foodchain - they tour nationwide, but have yet to break into mainstream radio, although my son thinks that this record may be the one to do it.


    Needless to say, I'm very proud of my son, not only that he's a musician, but that he has gone as far with it as he has, that he's developed what I believe to be the right kind of work ethic toward his craft, and that he's constantly striving to refine his abilities and continue to evolve and grow as a musician.
  8. breakup

    breakup Forte User

    Jun 19, 2015
    Central Pa.
    To illustrate the opposite attitude, on another forum I have encountered a college biology teacher who was teaching at a school where the students felt that if they paid the tuition, they deserved a passing grade, whether they attended class or not. Forget about actually learning anything or doing any of the work. When he did try to fail them, the administration would give him a hard time, so he went to another school.

    BTW good luck to your son and his band, My grandson is learning guitar, but since he doesn't live with me, I have no idea how much he is practicing.
  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    They've certainly got tons of energy and stage presence! Pretty impressive!

    Chip off the old block eh, Patrick?
  10. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    My son isn't in any of the current footage. Yet. :-) It's kind of an odd thing where he and the lead singer are friends, and even though he contributed on the last record too, to date he's never toured with them or even played any local shows with them. Part of it is a contract thing, and part of it is plain old band politics. At this point though, with as heavily involved as he was with the current record, it's going to be kind of hard to avoid, particularly due to the fact that the current guitar player doesn't know any of the music, and likely doesn't have the chops to play a lot of what got tracked in the studio.

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