Amount of practice time for 3rd year player?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by RichJ, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. RichJ

    RichJ Piano User

    Jan 16, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    I've been teaching my son trumpet for about 2-1/2 years and I'm wondering how long he needs to be practicing a day to stay on track with his development? It's a challenge for him to find even an hour a day and I'm worried that an hour is not enough time to cover all of the bases on a daily basis. He does not play in any groups except during summer band camp. Between practicing scales, tonguing drills, solo pieces for specific performances and learning new etudes weekly, I think he really needs to find more like 90 minutes a day to stay on track. When I played as well as he does, my parents had to pry the horn from my hands to get me to eat, do homework, etc., but my son has many competing interests, like playing outside with friends, playing with matchbox cars on the floor, etc.

    I think he's normal and I was a little obsessed (and a good bit older), but back to the original question. For a child playing at a good middle school level, what's a reasonable amount of practice time? As far as his level, he can execute the 1st mvmt of the Hummel and has a full sound. His site reading is his Achilles heel. He can play for 90+ minutes when we work on things on weekends, so endurance is not an issue for him.

    Anyhow, any thoughts on practice time?

  2. ed haley

    ed haley New Friend

    Mar 1, 2008
    You do not mention your son's age but from his other play interests he sounds pretty young.(11 or 12?). Also, you do not describe your background as a teacher. Fathers teaching sons can be pretty fraught with tension, especially when a boy starts to be a little rebellious.It could be that you need to meet with a competent brass teacher, someone who really has experience with children and see if you are on the right track pedagogically.
  3. RichJ

    RichJ Piano User

    Jan 16, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    I hear you on getting a good independent teacher. I do plan to seek another teacher within the next year. Up to this point, I think most good teachers would have been reluctant because of his age. He's 8. I'm hoping to get some input from other players about him in March when he performs at NTC and perhaps ideas about next steps for his development. My main concern is that due to lack of practice time, his reading ability is quickly falling behind his technical ability. His reading is at the Hering etude level but his technique is closer to Arban charcteristic studies and Charlier. Thus, practice time spent reading is worthless for technical development and playing technical studies is worthless for reading development. Hence, the need to bifurcate practice time, which leads to longer practice sessions.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2010
  4. sjk

    sjk New Friend

    Apr 10, 2008
    Practice time all depends on HIS goals and what he wants to accomplish on the trumpet. If he wants to be a kid and play and goof around, this is his time to do it. If he wants to practice the trumpet and be able to said excerpt or solo by a certain age, that's good too. IMO one hour a day for an 8 year old is outstanding.
  5. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    I feel one hour a day for an eight year old is more than enough, unless" he" wants to do more. If you push him to practice longer, he might lose the drive and interest he has now, and want to quit altogether . Let him be a kid and a well rounded individual , and if it's meant to be ,then it's meant to be, we can't live our dreams through our children lives.Mendez's sons both went on to become doctors, not professional trumpet players, who knows your son might cure cancer!
  6. graysono

    graysono Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 22, 2007
    Hyde Park, Utah
    I think that you have plenty of time here, and shouldn't worry too much. If his playing begins to feel good to him, he will want to practice more on his own. As others have indicated a good hour per day at his age is outstanding. He will get caught up in playing when he starts to garner others' attention for it (sorry Dad). With luck that will be as soon as he gets into a high functioning school band. Not incidentally, thinking back all those years, the "ahas" of reading finally became apparent in band settings where your playing had to match others. As Rowuk and others always point out too, it is less the length of time spent at practice and more the quality of the practice. Most of us like to play what we can already play, not what we can't. During practice, after warm up, we should be working mostly on what we cannot play. Good luck!
  7. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    Hi Richj,
    Before I give input on this issue, how is your son handling this? You really need to be careful of burnout. Now I'm not saying to just quit. I am saying however, I've seen a lot of parents over do it(dance, karate, football, band, beauty pagents etc..) in the process of trying to make the perfect beast. Be real careful. 45 minutes to an hour is plenty for a kid that age unless he want to do more. Just remember, its the quality not quantity of the practice session. Make sure its well balanced with slurs, tonguing, ect.. Also, watch out for using too much pressure when he plays. A thread you might want to check out is Mouthpiece Pressure Assessment on the trumpet discussion page.
    Good luck.
  8. dizforprez

    dizforprez Forte User

    Nov 2, 2003
    I think I would try to avoid a set time for some kids, it could be better to have goals and a standard for them to keep them on track and moving forward. Mindlessly pluging in X amount of time for a kid that has a lot going on can really burn them out. Keep it simple, keep feeding him new pieces to master, might be better to master many different easy solos than one hard one, I am sure that will help his sightreading as well.
  9. RichJ

    RichJ Piano User

    Jan 16, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Thanks for all the thoughtful feedback. I just want to clarify that he enjoys playing the trumpet. It's not as if we are forcing him. He's grown up in a house with constant trumpet music and started the trumpet only when he wanted to. And he does enjoy practicing once he gets started. For example, he's upstairs playing right now site-reading a couple of fairly simple etudes and just came down to tell me how he's "learning a lot" and how he's figuring out "this new rhythm" and "how ___ was really hard" but he worked at it and "got it" and how "this one etude" was "really fun." These are real quotes from a minute ago.

    I agree wtih dizforprez that it would be good to do more easy pieces than a few hard ones, and when he doesn't have an audition or performance coming up, that's what he does. Right now the National Trumpet Competition is right around the corner so he's putting more time than usual into one tough solo piece. It'd be nice if he could do both a lot of reading and working on perfecting a long piece, but that would really lengthen his practice time.

    I'm not too worried about burnout at this point and he spends plenty of time with other interests -- mainly sports. He also listens to trumpet music all the time on his own in his room and at night. He's a fan of Maynard, Rapa, Schlueter, Marsalis and, after seeing the Monette triple-C videos, Rashawn Ross.

    My original question was really to get from experienced teachers what amount of practice time per day is necessary to progress at a meaningful rate at his level. I think when I played like him (I was 14) I played about 90 minutes a day and ramped up to 3-4 hours a day in high school.

    Again, thanks for all the feedback.
  10. Passion

    Passion Pianissimo User

    Jun 11, 2009
    Aww, your kid sounds so cute! He'll be a great player one day.

    Anyways by spending quality time by playing music with your kid, it will still impact him even when he's a teenagers, and older. I feel so freakin old saying this. lol. (I'm 17 btw)

    If practice is fun for you both together, you encourage and complement him, while still pushing your kid a bit to build discipline, skills, and character, he'll be thanking you years later I'm sure.

    My Dad pushed me and my siblings too hard on playing tennis and running since age 5, and even though I was best on the tennis team as were my siblings, and considered gifted at it by many, I didn't continue in Highschool, instead choosing to do marching band. My Dad made tennis seem like a job, threatened us when we messed up too much, wouldn't let us have fun, and was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. All my siblings quit track and tennis except my older brother who continued for a scholarship. My Dad is pretty much a poop face; best way I can describe him. I think I'm speaking on everyones behalf with that.

    I have so many good memories of my Mom as a kid. All of them are good, no bad ones. Even when she disciplined me and siblings, it's funny to think about it all. When mom took us kids to play tennis, it was so fun, even though she was terrible at it. She made it fun and we all wanted to play tennis with her instead She also took us to picnics, fireworks, walks. She worked so much though, she was tired or in pain alot, but she still had energy for us munchkins and never complained.

    So basically, great memories of time I spent with Mom, always hated and still hate the time I have to spend with Dad. Mom compliments me on my trumpet playing, encourages me, and is supportive. Dad on the other hand isn't happy about me doing music insead of tennis, wont come to any concerts, and just doesn't care or know one bit of what I do because we don't talk.

    My advice, be awesome.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2010

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