Practice for the "working trumpeter"

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by NickD, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    OK, this might be a bit of a sore subject for some. It gets difficult for me at times, so I understand. However, I want to start tring to do more to help folks out. Let me explain.

    I've been working really hard at my trumpet playing. Those who know me know that I have a "day gig:" high school physics teacher. I still play 100 engagements per year and I still need to keep my chops up. I have been on a roller coaster over the last 16 years in working this out. I think I have finally hit on a system. I have been getting comments from guys on gigs recently. I played a 5 hour gig Saturday night and had no trouble getting through it at all. I had a screaming big band gig Sunday night, and the same thing. I was playing trumpet, flugel and cornet and covering range up to D over DHC, again, with no trouble at all. I was even horsing around with mouthpieces - someting I used to scared to do in the heat of battle.

    OK, now this is NOT to be braggy. Some of the guys were aksing how I keep my chops up with the crazy schedule I keep as a dad, husband and teacher.

    My first response is that I AM NOT SOME SPECIAL PLAYER. I personally think, in the greater scheme of things, I am just another Chicago pro.

    Second: ANYONE can do this! It took me a while to figure this out and I wish I had been better about this sooner. Oh well!

    Third: I practice a minimum of three hours per day, seven days a week. More on weekends. This is ON TOP OF GIGGING! Again, my buddies were asking, how did I pull this off.

    Here are some things I've been doing and I want to share them with all. This is all based on the idea that we all tend to fritter away time doing nothing. I know I DID. I just decided to discipline myself more. Here is my basic routine. This works and ANYONE can do it.

    A.) Ok, I'm a school teacher, so I get up early. I'll go down into m basement studio and practice BASS TRUMPET for a half-hour to 45 minutes from 6:00 AM to 6:30 AM. Then I'll grab my flugel horn and continue on that till I have to go to work. If all goes well, I've just snagged an hour of solid work!

    B.) I bring my cornet to work. I keep a practice mute in my lab desk. I'll knock off another 40 minutes playing on cornet.

    C.) During free periods when I don't have too much planning to do, I'll grab another 20 minutes.

    Voila - up to 2 hours!

    D.) When I get home from work, I used to crash in front of the "lobotomy box" and watch the news or fall asleep for an hour. Now, I grab my C trumpet and play ecersices. I might even do this in front of the tube and still catch the news. I'll do this for a half hour.

    E.) By now, I've got to check more email, deal with family stuff, but the break is good. I am up to 2.5 hours of practice time. When I can slip away to get more time in, I do it in 20 minute increments. During the break time with can be totally variable in length, I spend the time with family, doing extra work, whatever life demands. Now, I play Bb trumpet, followed by Eb follwed by Picc. I could stop after hitting the Bb but I'm up to three hours at that point. I might skip around on the horns at the end of the day depending on upcoming gigs.

    In addition to using my time much more wisely, I get the benefits of spaced repititon. My warm up time on gigs is WAY down. I'm pretty much ready when the horn comes out of the case on the site.Another thing I am working is covering all the horns beginning with the big stuff (bass trumpet and flugel). In fact, on some days, I might not practice on Bb at all and stick with the flugel and cornet for that part. I also use the biggest mouthpieces I can possibly stand for all of this. I rarely practice my lead gear till a day before the gigs hit.

    As a last comment, I pay very careful attention to form in al of this. Particulalry with the mouthpiece switching. I feel in doing this I have developed (fianlly - after umpteen years messing with this thing) a complete nderstanding of MY chops. I can scramble out of anyt tight spot any bandleader can possibly put me in.

    My chops feel totally better than ever, and this has been a "no brainer" to do. I'm sure many of you already know and do all of this stuff. However, due to the number of ladies and gents who have come to me and said, I can only squeeze in .5 to 1 hour a da if that. I just don't have time, I felt the need to start this post. I used to think the same thing.

    I hope you're all ok with this thread. I know any of you could pull this off and really make your playing go nuts. I am going to develop DVD project based on this, specifically outlining and demonstrating just WHAT I play duringthese stretches and how I do them. The big part, however, is DOING THEM!

    FWIIW, coming from me.

    More to follow.


  2. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

    Oct 25, 2007
    Hmm... Now I just need a studio room and i'll be set haha. Dont worry though, I plan on having one built in my house when I get one. thats a must on my list of things to do.
  3. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    Well, this thread has already been running under a different title! I need to be more diligent in looking before I leap. Sorry about that. I'll leave this here. However, I'll pick up my contributions to the discussion under the other title.

    "Limited Practice Time" is the title of the orignal thread.

    I won't repost my starter post here in that tread. Feel free to move this discussion over there.

    Peace, all!

  4. TrentAustin

    TrentAustin Fortissimo User

    Oct 28, 2003
    Boston, MA
    For anyone who's interested a book that helped me immensely in this matter was "Time Organization from the Inside Out". I know can quite easily get 4-6 hours daily thanks to this text ... even when I teach 13 hours on Thursdays I still shed 3 hours.
  5. Patric_Bernard

    Patric_Bernard Forte User

    Oct 25, 2007
    I think the biggest thing I, and probably most people are worried about is family and friends time. I know you have to dedicate a ton of time to music, but People need family more than anything.
  6. flugelgirl

    flugelgirl Forte User

    Jan 20, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    I think you're missing the point, Patric. This is about squeezing in practice time where you would normally just waste time. If you practice a hard lick for 5 mins while you wait for the coffee pot, that's 5 mins of viable practice time. 20 minutes with a practice mute in front of the tv doing lip slurs is also more than you had before. 10 mins before rehearsal to get that phrase you messed up yesterday..... Get it? It really works!
  7. krossum

    krossum Piano User

    Aug 23, 2005
    New York, NY, USA

    Here's a fairly simple exercise to try for a week: always buzz your mouthpiece while reading Internet forums.

  8. Bloomin Untidy Musician

    Bloomin Untidy Musician Piano User

    Jan 14, 2008
    Good idea krossum. You could buzz during traffic jams while commuting. And if you are an Xtreme trumpeter on the toilet as well! Although i do believe toilet pedals have a negative affect upon one's constitution.
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    If we seriously look at our practice time, most all of us will admit that we spend most of our time on things that we can already do well!

    We ALL know that that does not offer the best opportunities for improvement. 90 minutes a day is more than enough to maintain an extremely high level of playing quality - IF we do what is good for us. 2 quality hours and more require that we place our horns at a premiere status in our lifestyle. If that is what we truly want, wonderful. For the rest, the difference between 90 minutes and 3 hours of practice is not as much as many think..........................
  10. Bloomin Untidy Musician

    Bloomin Untidy Musician Piano User

    Jan 14, 2008
    Sorry about my little joke. On a more serious note i agree that Nick has got some very good points. Like him i have got particularly fed up with the lobotomiser and started practicing instead. I certainly like the idea of practicing during breaktimes/ lunch. Oddly enough my new year's resolution was not to waste time. Maybe i'll stop being a hypocrite.

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