how to practice the right way

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Tarter_trpt8, Jun 23, 2005.

  1. Tarter_trpt8

    Tarter_trpt8 Pianissimo User

    Jan 17, 2005
    St. Paul, MN

    I've been struggling with "how to practice" and how to stay fresh with practicing a lot. I just don't know how to do it. Manny what do you do that gets you through? Or maybe think about the college days or something. Anyone can post it's just there is so much to learn with only so much chop time, how do you learn it all and play it well and efficiently without hurting yourself or overplaying? I'm struggling to figure it out or "how to practice" so imput would be great!

  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

    Sep 29, 2004
    I find that when people complain about tiring too quicklyand not getting enough out of practicing, that there are a number of issues at play.

    1) A man's got to know his limitations.

    A player has to to have a good self-awareness about how much he can take in a given amount of time relative to what he's playing. You have to take stock of what tires you and after how much of it. After you figure that out you have to understand whether your approach is correct for what you're doing. I mean, are you practicing everything at a loud dynamic without being at a developmental place where you can deal with it. Are you playing at a loud dynamic effectively or wasting a lot of effort? When you play softly, are you pinching all the time or doing it breezingly?

    You have to be aware of how effective your energy output is relative to the job at hand.

    2) Is your musical diet balanced?

    Are you someone that practices a lot of slurred things and then expects to have blazing tongue speed? Do you expect to be able to play in the upper register without having a clear idea of what a great upper register sounds like when you are doing your best? I didn't say feel, I said sound. Are you so focused on the methodology that the musical result is taking a backseat? You can't play music with methodology. It must be done with a sound in your head and an insistant brain that is relentless in pursuing that sound on a musical basis.

    3)Do you know when to rest?

    Resting is a learned technique but it goes back to self-awareness. What do you do when you rest? Nothing? Are you thinking about what the next logical step to improvement is or what? Or are you taking a mental break? When you rest, rest, when you play, play music.

    Good luck,
  3. Still Trying

    Still Trying Pianissimo User

    Nov 23, 2003
    Lake Jackson, TX USA
    One of the first principles of teaching is that a teacher has to know what it is he is trying to teach, before he can teach it. I know that's so basic that it sounds stupid to state it. But it's true. When I went into a classroom, I always knew exactly what I wanted to teach that day. It was up to my creativity to figure out a way to get the point across to students. But since I knew what I wanted to teach, I also knew whether or not I had accomplished my goal.

    What does that have to do with practicing? Everything. Even if you take lessons from an instructor, when you take your trumpet out of its case for a practice session, for the moment you are your own teacher. No one can play that instrument for you, and no matter what you've been told, you still have to figure out how to apply it to yourself. So approach practicing from the stand point of being your own teacher for a period.

    Define what it is you are trying to learn (teach yourself) during the session. Have a defined purpose for your practicing. Why are you playing the exercises you are practicing? When you practice slurs (as a student), remind yourself (as a teacher) what it is you are trying to accomplish by playing slurs. Then evaluate your sound, flexibility, ease of playing, whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. If the exercises need correction, as a teacher, what do you suggest to the student?

    If your playing starts to deteriorate because of fatigue, rest a while and start over. You don't necessarily have to practice the same type exercises every day, as long as all the essentials are practiced in an orderly fashion.

    I guess the main point of all this is just to say that you should have a well defined goal to determine what you practice and how much you practice. I doubt that goal oriented practice is boring to many players, and it's certainly more productive. Physically, rest as much as you play. It really does help.
  4. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    You wrote:
    "...there is so much to learn with only so much chop time, how do you learn it all and play it well and efficiently without hurting yourself or overplaying?"

    It sounds like you are trying to learn everything that you need to play while actually playing the trumpet. I'm sure that's not entirely the case, but consider this analogy...

    How well would a football team accomplish the goal of moving the ball up the field if there were no huddles, no time to plan and formulate how to approach the obstacle in their path? The only time that the actual game clock is moving is when the ball is in play. It doesn't account for the time related to strategic planning that goes on prior to actually touching the ball.

    The same idea should be applied to your practice time. The goal of practice is to put the most intense, clear image of how you want to make the music sound into your head. John Hagstrom says, "...the intensity of the musical voice in one's head must be able to drown out what may or may not come out of the instrument".

    So, to put that voice in your head, you need to be doing a lot of work away from the trumpet in preparation for the time when you get ready to move the ball up the field (practice time).

    Here is a quote from the CNN interview with Philip Myers (Principal Horn with the NY Philharmonic):
    Whoa! Four to Five hours a day studying the music, getting a complete sense of the music in his mind before he plays? That's amazing to me, but it's the reason that he is where he is.

    Here’s another quote from John Hagstrom with respect to a question that I asked him about "putting the sound in my head":

    The clearer the sound image is in your mind before you sit down to practice, the better chance you will have of actually moving toward that sound image. Spend an appropriate amount of time away from the horn listening and studying (even better to grab a score and actively listen to the music while reading what's in front of you). After you do this, try and sing what you have just heard. Can you do it? If you can't, you need to spend more time to assure that the image is as clear as possible before you even pick up the horn again.

    Hope these thoughts are helpful!
  5. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona
    I just read the David Hickman ITG 2005 Conference Clinic notes and thought I would excerpt a portion of that information here:

    Daily Practice Routine

    Professor Hickman recommended breaking the daily practice into six basic sessions:

    1. WARM-UP (15-30 min., early or mid morning) - to loosen up and remove swelling
    2. FUNDAMENTALS (30-45 min., late morning) - to maintain and develop techniques
    3. LISTENING (60 min., early afternoon) - to concerts and recordings to develop musical
    concepts and ideas
    4. WOOD SHEDDING (60 min, mid-afternoon) - to perfect difficult passages
    5. STUDYING (60 min., late afternoon) - to understand scores, styles, historical settings
    6. PRACTICE PERFORMANCES (60+ min., evening) - to develop mental imagery and confidence

    So, "Listening and Studying" occupy 2 hours of this suggested practice day and another 3 hours or so on the horn. I certainly like the way that he's outlined his day.

    Hope this helps!

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