Limited practice time and breaks

Discussion in 'Trumpet Pedagogy' started by jdostie, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    JD,
    if anything is unclear, Post or PM me.

    Body use is critical in martial arts too. You have a stance (I am not sure what it is called) where the feet are parallel and about shoulders width apart. This is a position where it is tough to knock you down. This is also good for trumpet playing as if the spine is reasonably straight, you do not need much energy to stand up, the body balances itself.

    Draw a circle on a big piece of paper and breath that way - inhale up the left side and down the right. Try and keep it relaxed and smooth, 10 second inhale and 10 second exhale. The transition from one state to the next is critical - no pressure to start "pushing" the air out! Just let the air flow by itself. Try and empty your lungs as much as possible without "force". If you hold air in with your martial arts exercizes, try and maintain a "yawn" and use your diaphragm to keep the air in.

    I am really serious about 1/3rd of your practice time on repertory or tunes. If you do not have much sheet music, download or get a Hymnbook and go for it.
     
  2. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    Many thanks again. I think I understand what you are saying here.
     
  3. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    I would encourage you to ask the question "why this?" to everything you practice. For example, your use of long tones from g in the staff to as low as possible, each as long as possible--why? Is it to practice long tones, or to relax your chops? If it is to practice long tones, why practice them in the lower register? Why hold them until you run out of breath? To do so is unmusical. If you wish to exercise the abs while playing, try playing some long tones without a full breath--at what is called "the end of the breath." When the quivering in your tone starts the abs are working, but for what purpose? There are darned few times when we are asked to exhaust our breath while playing! That long-tone time you are spending could perhaps be better spent. Tonguing and fingering can be practiced away from the horn. Figure out what your real musical priorities are, what your weaknesses are in that area, and then look for the right exercise. Practicing smart is way better than plain practice, which is way better than no practice at all.

    Good luck, and have fun!
     
  4. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    Hm, some things I know why, some I don't. For a lot it's what I've been told by my teacher and from those on this board as well. Example long tones - several on this board not the least of which is Rowuk bring them up continually; the Claude Gordon book has them, and my teacher told me to do them starting at G and working my way down chomatically. I had assumed with dual purpose, concentrate on tone, and loosen up.

    But why hold, obviously concentrating on tone as I start to lose breath isn't (at least as) productive - or is it? I'm not qualified to say, but perhaps if I work to keep my tone as pure as possible in spite of failing air support other aspects of playing will improve - perhaps not, that's I question I'll have to ask. Maybe you've already answered it in your question. For abdominal breathing? That is certainly part of what I learned years ago, but it does not seem to square with CG's line of thought - and I don't know the views of those here . . . for the moment, it's because that's what my teacher (and previous horn line instructors) have told me.

    Why tonguing while playing rather than just while singing? I would have to say articulation and tonguing with different tongue levels that you (I) won't get while singing - and for the multi event practice that is necessary - double/triple tongue and change pitch while doing it, oh now add fingering, change the rhythmic patterns associated - now do it backward, with one hand tied behind your back - now I'm getting silly, but I guess so I learn to deal with the different complexities involved while playing.

    And fingering, well, you have a point there, that would/could be done in conjunction with sight reading practice without a horn. Read, sing, finger with proper rhythm. Here is an area where I could really use work. A cool tool would be software dedicated to brass instruments with say the 123 buttons on the keyboard designated as the valves and the space bar as the tongue and/or rhythm bar (or better mappable so you can decide which keys for different layouts). Probably asking too much, but that would be awesome - add a buzzer for missed notes. . .

    So, anyway, those were my thoughts on what you brought up, and they could certainly be wrong - in fact, I am guessing from what you typed that you think they are. ? .
     
  5. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Not wrong, but perhaps a bit misplaced--I've known players with a routine that was essentially a 45 minute warm-up. 45 minute warm-ups are great if we are looking at multiple hours of playing in the day ahead, but they don't bring much, if any progress. The goal at the end of the day is to have chops that are pleasantly tired, and our playing routine should make us tired every day (not quite exhausted). There are excersises that will tire one or more elements of playing quite quickly, and if we have just a limited time to practice those are the best things to practice. They differ from person to person--I can play lip flexibility exercises all day long, but when I play those same excercises tongued, I burn out in about 5 minutes.

    Sometimes we'll have to isolate one aspect of our playing and concentrate on that, but for practical purposes, a holistic approach that challenges us is a terrific time-saver.

    Hope this is a bit clearer!
     
  6. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    We play long tones softly because that is an exercize that lets our chops function correctly without having to get a doctors degree in anatomy. While visualizing things works for some, learning to play "naturally" has always been faster with my students! Why hold out until you run out of air? Because we are training habits and as we need to breath to stay alive, we cannot always be 100% full for the horn. We also need to keep our tone pure at the end of long phrases!!!!

    A trumpet works differently than our speech mechanism. When speaking, basic tones are produced by the vocal chords and articulated in the resonant oral cavity by the tongue and lips. The transformation comes AFTER the tone generator. Our breathing apparatus has a clean shot to the vocal chords!

    Trumpet is the opposite all of the articulation power is BEHIND the generator. That does not allow our lips to always get the optimal air stream. We can increase the odds by practicing articulation with the horn - always starting from the big beautiful sound and working backwards until the tongue only does the job required and does not get in the way of other vital playing functions!

    There is no absolutes in making music. You do not need perfect technique to make your audiences happy, you just need the right audiences. The more time you invest in yourself, the more you and the people listening to you benefit - and the larger your audience becomes.

    Look at improving as an opportunity, do what you can, as you can. If you pay attention, you will get better as quickly as possible. Your questions are universally applicable! Thanks!
     
  7. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    Thanks very much to both of you.
     
  8. tedh1951

    tedh1951 Utimate User

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    Will everyone keep asking all sorts of questions, please. I learn so much from you all but don't have the knowledge to even think of these queries. Even I have noticed the change in my capacity as a player over the last few months, every aspect of my playing has improved, even though I'm travelling a lot. The pocket trumpet is earning its keep though. Very many thanks to all.
     
  9. jdostie

    jdostie Piano User

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    OK, here is a followup then:


    Would you please characterize a proper warm up vs. practice -obviously we've talked some about the practice routine, warm-ups I learned years ago would have been similar, but shorter (less time/focus) on the different elements.
    Breathing/blowing through the horn
    A few long tones combined with intervals
    Perhaps a brief arpeggio or lip flexibility
    A tonguing exercise - staccato to loosen up the tongue
    And perhaps because it was drum corps, some long tones with crescendo/decrescendo (usually increasing to ffff/blast) - don't do that anymore.

    When I practice, I do so in an order that kind of warms up while practicing if you will - I think of the long tones and early arpeggios as warm up, and then it's off to flexibilities.

    So I guess what I am saying is that I think of warm ups (in context of practice) as those things which we know how to do, but do as part of our daily routine . . . and the other areas which we need to work on as the "practice." Is this what you were getting at, or am I missing the mark?
     
  10. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

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    Practice differs from the warm-up in that practice is progressive. Imagine that you've been advised by your doctor to get some cardio vascular exercise, so you jog two miles in twenty 20 minutes at your target pulse rate. Great! If you continue this, however, you'll reach a point of fitness that your pulse doesn't rise at all during the jog. In order to hit that target pulse, you'd have to start running faster and/or longer to increase your total fitness.

    Since time is limited, we can't work on super endurance in a shortened practice session, but we can work on pushing our personal envelopes: faster-higher-louder to be sure, but also slower-lower-softer. I really like the Harold Mitchell Method, each week is a bit tougher than the one before, and doesn't take too long to work through. The Vizzutti offers another pretty balanced approach--the idea is to be challenged, musically and technically and stay challenged.

    Make any sense?
     

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