Is practicing really the way to get better?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Anonymous, Sep 10, 2005.

  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Forte User

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    Oct 21, 2003
    Hi Mr. L-

    This may sound like a stupid post. Of course growing up I practiced all the time (4 hours a day in high school). But now, I find that if I practice more than about 1.5 or 2 hours a day I don't get much done. My chops start feeling weird the next day, and my progress slows down. When I do about an hour a day (plus more with gigs and rehearsals), I play great all the time and stay at a much higher level.

    So, I was wondering what you think of this? I'm certainly not telling people that practicing less will be a benefit to them, I'm just wondering why it is to me.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    PBT,

    It's not a stupid post in the least as what you're doing is merely relating your personal experiences.

    Now after reading, I have to wonder a great many things not the least of which is the directions you took when you practiced. You know that I'm an old martial artist. I only mention that because my instructor was the first person I heard say "Perfect practice makes perfect". It's an obvious thought unless you've never heard it articuated.

    You're someone who should at your physical peak, agewise. Breathing will never be more efficient than at this time in your life. So, first off, I have to question whether you're doing that in the most efficient way and, second, whether the song/sound in your head is strong. The art must lead the physical and it's very easy to get off track in that regard. What that does is lead to sme great inefficiencies.

    When I have two hours a day to work, I get so much done and I feel great! I have the time to focus on the things that I want to impove and i have the time to take the little breaks that keep me fresh. The time in my life I made the most improvement was when I practiced 4 to 5 hours a day for a brief time. Then life got back in the way and I couldn't do it anymore. That was the season I got the job here in MN.

    Maybe you play too loud, maybe you force too much, maybe you're tighter than you realize... who knows. But I believe that long sessions with proper breaks, guided by common sense, and aimed at specific goals should be very productive. It's hard for me or anyone else on an internet forum to say specifically why without having the benefit of hearing you live.

    Some people send me audio files and CD's to hear. If you'd like to do that, be my guess and if there's a problem , I'll hear it. Otherwise, maybe I've tripped a thought or two that make sense and will be helpful to you, I don't know.

    Stay in touch.

    ML
     
  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous Forte User

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    Oct 21, 2003
    Thanks, Mr. L. I used to play with a great deal of physical tension in my throat. I've really stopped doing that within the past year so that the only point of resistance is at the lips. My range used to be a problem, topping out at around a B natural without sounding strained. Now I can play arpeggio's up to G above that with very little physical work. I could never play the Tomasi or Jolivet Concerti, and now I can throw them off with general ease.

    I feel like I've been on a roll of improvement since about last October, so I just can't figure out why my practicing is less now. I was a finalist at two auditions that I took for orchestras, and I got into two out of three grad schools in NYC that I applied to. I will PM you with a sound clip if I can figure out how to do that.

    As always, thank you very much for your insight! We are all lucky to have this forum.
     
  4. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    PBT,

    For perspective, it sounds like things are going very well for you! The range, the repertoire, and getting into two of three schools for which you auditioned sounds like some accomplishment to me.

    All I'd find to quibble with might be your general sound, phrasing, style... things like that but it sounds, on the face of it, that things are going nicely for you. You just want a bit more face time without the tax at the end is what it sounds like. Reasonable, I think.

    ML
     
  5. Tarter_trpt8

    Tarter_trpt8 Pianissimo User

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    Jan 17, 2005
    St. Paul, MN
    Just to add a little bit. I'm curious about what you do Manny in those "long sessions." How much time do you spend on findamentals and things before you actually work on rep.? It's probably different for every person, but how do you stay fresh enough for 4 to 5 hours with so much to play and work on for an audition? Is mental practice still practice?

    Jeremy
     
  6. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    Jeremy,

    The most resting I do, interestingly, is during the fundamental portion of my workout. Right now, I was working on a tonguing endurance exercise and I'm taking a short break to write something on TM.

    Now you know where I get all the time to post... it's during my practice time!

    When I hit the recital/orchestra stuff I play much more through, ONCE I'VE PERFECTED A PIECE. Otherwise, there's a lot of the piecemeal practice to perfect sections.

    Okay, time's up. Back to Clarke's!

    ML

    I've decided for fun and in the spirit of another post by tptr1 (Glenn) to keep writing what I'm doing on this lovely day indoors (arrgh).

    So, I finished up that little tonguing challenge that I started, with more yet shorter breaks and played some Goldman at the speed I left off the Clarke's. I took a brief break to yell at the kids (hey, someone has to do it) and cracked open the Arban to play some more tonguing at the fastest speed he writes down. I use my Dr. Beat and set it nice and loud. This is the first break I've taken since all that. So, you see? It's like I said, once I get a roll going the breaks become fewer and farther between.

    I want to do some interval playing so, I'll start on 125 and play bits of the subsequent pages. Why am I spending so much time on the basics? Because when you get older you have to, pure and simple. You have to breathe bigger, you have to sing more... everything that SEEMED second nature when I was younger now requires a little more purposeful thought. I don't think you can play less as you get older in the classical biz. Maybe someone will dispute that and we can have a good discussion about that, that would be fun.

    Later,

    ML

    Ha!

    The best laid plans...

    I sat down to play 125 and I passed the lip slur section on 44. "Geez, I haven't done much of this lately.. oh, what the heck...". So, I played the page and added a bunch more until my corners were saying "Uh, 'scuse me, but exactly what do you think you're doing, pal?" So, I listened to them and am going to take a slightly longer break right now, THEN get to 125.

    Yeah, right, Mr. King of Distraction.

    ML

    Okay, so, I'm done for now. With a couple of breaks I played 125 and then worked on the two next pages( excerpted, not complete) using the double tongue at the "in the cracks" speeds. I then worked on about 5 pages of moving triple and double tongue stuff and now that's it for a while. If I get time to do some more work later, great. I'll take out the C trumept and/or solo work. If not, I've invested a good amount of time on advanced fundamentals. Advanced because of the length of time and tempi that I took for the studies.

    So, that's a peek at what I do. Notice: no high register studies or purely low register studies. Rather a combination of as many things at once as possible. It might be nice to do some transposition work, it's been ages. We'll see.

    Have a great day folks, practicing or not. It's a beautiful day... might be nice to sit under a tree and listen to a ballgame.

    Now, THAT'S living.

    ML

    Okay, I picked up the horn because I want to put in another half hour before I have to go out again.

    I had dinner a little bit ago but I'm AWARE of it and know that I have to breathe more and with great effeciency. I thought about PBT's later question and decided to continue with Arban's or at least start with it and use the C trumpet instead of the Bb.

    Now this is the important part: Because of the practice I did earlier I noticed that my lips felt a bit tender when I put the horn up to play. So, I played some arpeggios starting from the lower register (meaning C) and ascended making sure that I was playing with the thickest air column I could ALL THE WAY UP. I didn't allow any dwarfing of the sound; it had to stay full. After about 3 minutes to help my daughter soften some butter to make cookies I went back and everything felt fine with only the slightest feeling of tenderness. I played Arban #6 in the back and as I write this I can feel my lips going back to the way they felt this morning: ready to go.

    Folks, this is really important, okay? Sound, sound, sound... and the relaxed in/exhale to keeping it going with music at the very front of all of it. What was I working on #6 for?

    Phrasing.

    Not the F major arpeggio, I know that pretty well. Phrasing, that's where my head was.

    Okay, gotta get back.

    Later,

    ML

    So, I played #2 and then the Intro and Variations on Acteon. That's the one for trumpet in A. That's the way you should work on it, you know. Don't do it in Bb and say Oh, I'll never play it anyway. It's a very challenging one rhythmically as well. I have my high school students learn it. Hey, waddya know? I got my tranposition practice in at the same time, too. Yipee!

    That's it I'm done. I'm going to pick up my boy , come back and I think we're going to watch "Uncle Buck" or "To kill a Mockingbird" . My son is reading it for English class this year.

    Oh, yeah.. time to rub a little ChopSaver on to seal where the blood's leaking out... just kidding, relax.

    Later all,

    ML
     
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous Forte User

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    Oct 21, 2003
    One more question for you, Mr. L-

    Are you one of those guys that plays technical studies on Bb or C trumpet? or doesn't it matter? I've tried both and have been more happy playing C trumpet for my technical studies for one reason or another.

    Do you work technically on other horns, or just apply the technique to pieces on other horns?
     
  8. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    PBT,

    I'm naturally inclined to pick up the Bb, old New Yorker that I am. But , yes, I will play the C on the traditionally Bb exercises and studies without transposing.

    Funny story:

    Once a student of Mel Broiles' told me that he went to a lesson with him and as he was taking out his horn to prepare for it he mentioned with enthusiasm that he had been to a concert of the Maynard Ferguson band the night before.

    "It was cool.. he played some great double C's!"

    Mel looked at the kid and said "Ah, Maynard doesn't play double C... he plays a double Bb!" And then he picked up his C trumpet and played an outrageous double high C with it.

    I loved that guy.

    ML
     
  9. sinfoniantrumpeter

    sinfoniantrumpeter Pianissimo User

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    Apr 10, 2005
    :lol: good story Manny

    Have you ever heard the stories of how Mel had to play so loud in the MET pit that he had to take the entire summer off to recoop? Is there any truth to this?
     
  10. Manny Laureano

    Manny Laureano Utimate User

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    S,

    I have never heard that but I,uh, doubt its veracity. Mel was one of strongest trumpet playing humans I ever heard and I knew him in his prime. If he took a summer off it was likely for some other reason. I don't know how heavy the Met schedule is during the summer. He was unbelievably musical and was an important influence on me regarding style and phrasing but in a different way than Vacchiano who was also, paradoxically.

    I used to love it when he'd play in lessons with me and for me. Gorgeous vibrato and tone. He had such a variety of ways to play the trumpet... you just don't hear that anymore. Yeah, he had his detractors and perhaps it was based on some of the craziness he'd pull on the job. What can I say? I wasn't in the pit, I was in the audience and I loved what he did without prejudice.

    ML
     

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