Practice for the "working trumpeter"

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

  1. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Question - What kind of mute do you use at school, NickD?

    I guess I have it made. No family except my aged Mom who still lives in HER home. Work 8-4:30. Busy two evenings, one playing jazz jam. Both evenings still have room to practice.
    I have TV but only use it for the music channels (OK, some weather), which provide me lots of chance for hearing new material and random play along. In my essentailly empty house I have studios on each floor - the piano's on the first due to it's non-movability. Both studios have sound systems, so I can play along or listen.
    Upstairs I practice Bb trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, and my mellophone. I also practice guitar (not a lot) there.
    Downstairs I work on the piano ( I always learn the chords/rhythm from the real book for any tune I want to play on the horn) and my vibes. Sometimes I even play my congas.
    So I guess I've zero excuse not to practice much more and I will, with inspiration from NickD. I also need to keep my focus, since time playing the other instruments can only take away from the trumpet, though my trumpet playing definitely benefits from the diviersity of my musical interests.
    Oh, then there's my girlfriend. She lives 4 hours away. Whenever we are together she loves to listen to my practicing. Really, she LOVES it!:D

    BTW - I hope you all know the NickD is the author of some of the best articles on the physics of the trumpet. First class stuff! Open tubes, closed-end tubes, harmonics, etc. He is more physicist than he'd have you know.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2008
  2. mrmusicnotes

    mrmusicnotes Piano User

    Nov 11, 2007
    Thanks Nick,You shamed me into playing scales with my harmon mute this morning @ 6am for 20 min. .I"ll try and keep it up.I only play an hour a day and could definitly use the added horn time.Thanks again
  3. Siegtrmpt

    Siegtrmpt Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 21, 2005
    This is a good thread since most working musicians play as a second job. My 6th grade son and I have a 20 minute warm up session together before school and he plays his assigned songs and studies for 20 minutes or so when he gets home. I have it backward as I'm someone that puts limits on my trumpet practice because I'd do a lot more than would really be responsible given my other choices and priorities in life. I think that I get maximum benefit vs. time and effort with 45minutes of personal practice daily. This combined with gigs (one or two a week) and playing some with students keeps me at a respectable level. Sure, I could be better with more of a time investment but I like to do things with my family, fly airplanes, work on cars, fish, camp, backpack, take care of our property, take the boat out etc.....all sorts of stuff. Playing and teaching trumpet is an important part of what I do in life and it's always with me in the car or in a plane so I can play it some everyday. Then it goes in it's case and I do other things that life has to offer.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2008
  4. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I'll be the negative one here.

    Yesterday (Saturday) I woke up and went into the studio (basement) and played for about an hour. I played C trumpet and B flat and Picc. I didn't want to over do it so I could still play more later. After that I worked on my car. I had to go to the dealer and get parts and on the way I had to make two stops for the wife.

    I finished and had a late lunch. I picked up the trumpet and played for about five minutes. I'll get back to it later. I put the screen in the front storm door and emptied the dishwasher Puttered around, played the piano for a while.

    I went over to a friends house with my wife to see their new baby and get back my C trumpet. It took way longer than planed so we came home and ate a late dinner. I wanted to practice; I thought about it; I didn't do it.

    Today I want to practice a lot but, I have a job this afternoon and I don't know what part I have to play. I'm a sub, what if I play lead? I don't think I'll practice this morning, maybe after the job. (probably not)

    Weekdays : I play when I can. I have a job that takes up a lot of time. I try to ignore the phone and play some but the time is limited.

    Now my chops are so week from not practicing that I'm afraid to play during the day if I have to play a gig later. It's a downward spiral.
  5. Siegtrmpt

    Siegtrmpt Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 21, 2005
    I'm not sure you're being negative.....just dealing with real life. I was going to blow off playing yesterday because I just didn't feel like it. Then I took my son over to solo and ensemble festival to play a duet with his buddy. They played well and got a 1. I also heard some pretty strong HS players. One guy I heard from out in the hallway was tackling Tomasi and doing a good job of it. If I'm going to teach these guys I need to keep up with it. I practiced when we got home.
  6. B15M

    B15M Forte User

    Dec 30, 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    Quick update:
    I played lead. If I practiced this morning I wouldn't have made it through the job. Maybe I can practice tonight.
  7. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    Well things are different when the kids get to high school and are off doing their own thing. My son will actually be working with me on some things. I am going to teach him studio technology by having him work with me to overdub all of the sax parts and the piano part to horn of Puente. He'll also be assisting me on some recording sessions - engineering. My daughter will be doing a lot of summer camp and jazz band camp. We actually have to schedule time together during which I'll take a couple of weeks off the horn (OK, I bring a pocket trumpet and a mute, but don't tell my wife!).

    Gotta run!

  8. NickD

    NickD Forte User

    Well, I just got back from a meeting, and I'm checking some other responses. Man I missed a lot. I don't mean to brush anyone off!

    OK, B15M, I sure understand your concern about being weak from no practice and being afraid to dig in a bit after a dry period. However, I PERSONALLY convinced that this is ultimately a form thing. If I miss a few days on a family trip, I have no misgivings about putting a lot of time getting ready for a gig. The trick FOR ME is to do it all in little spurts - 20 minute stretches longer breaks, and mostly soft playing. As I'm sure you know, though, one has to know his/her own playing. What works for me may not work for everyone. I would also agree that there was nothing negative about your post! It raises an important issue.

    Verry715, I use either a Dennis Wick practice mute (which I keep in my lab at work) or a Trumcor practice mute. I also have a brand I bought in London - very nice, but I don't remember the maker. Sorry.

    Finally, there are many neat ideas you have all posted here. You are all helping each other and me! This sort of sharing is, indeed inspiring.

    Now, Jazz9, you said some wonderful kind words. I can't thank you enough. As to being world class, I honestly don't know. I don't want to indulge in FALSE humility. That would be disingenuous. I know I can hold my own, and if I shared the stage with a Wayne Bergeron or a Jon Faddis (I have with the latter), I would surely not embarrass myself, regardless as to the part I would play. Waynard and Jon deserve to be famous. As to me, it's not for me to say or even ponder. To quote Wayne Campbell, “I like to play!”

    However, you raise a point that is a source of occasional discomfort for me. That is what my physics students in class know of my music. I have felt the need to adopt a sort of "Clark Kent" secret identity position. Surely they know I play, but I try to downplay it as much as possible. I don’t want my students to think I'm neglecting my job as their physics teacher, particularly since I've been teaching APC Physics.

    Last year I got smoked badly with an online teacher rating site, and I got called out for my being so enthusiastic about my trumpet work. Well, this is tough for me. I am a TRUMPET PLAYER and always will be. That is who and what I am, professionally. It is what I feel quite at home with. I do have this other background and being a physics teacher is something that I l love and I love helping the kids see how good they already are. I also have a few musicians who seek me out because of my duality. But, teaching is my day gig – a labor of love, but day gig, nonetheless.

    Most of my students, even the musicians, have NO CLUE as to what I do or can do as a trumpeter. Most wouldn't understand. They are teenagers and they are finding themselves - not me! I am not offended that they "aren't impressed" by my trumpet work. They should be focused on learning as much as they possibly can, but young musicians need solid music teachers who are willing to sacrifice their own musical standing to support their students.

    You see, I don't mind taking a back seat to my hot shot physics students and helping them excel and win contests and accolades and putting my own status as a physicist on the back burner.

    I feel differently about trumpet, though. For me, it's about PLAYING the horn and sharing my love for it via self expression. In a high school it’s about the STUDENT musicians, not me, so I need to keep it on the down low or I risk the appearance of foisting my trumpet music on them against their will. So, I try to NOT practice in the practice rooms unless I can sneak up there during off peak hours. When I practice, I really get to it, and it can be challenging to listen to for those in the practice rooms down the hall. I'm not there to show off, but I do try to work stuff out.

    So, out of respect for the students in my classes, I don't make a big point of "tooting my own horn." If they ask about it, I don't hide, but I keep it low key.

    OK, I've rambled on, but I've been away for awhile. Thanks for your patience.


    Last edited: Apr 30, 2008
  9. oldlips48

    oldlips48 Piano User

    Mar 1, 2007
    Hi Nick,

    Wow, I didn't realize you were THAT Nick D until I checked your website. Your clips are awesome!

    I'm just getting back into playing after a number of years and I find your posts on managing the practice time very helpful.

    I'm a chemsitry teacher (which we all know is an obscure subfield of physics. At least that's what my physics colleagues tell me) and I participate in the community band that practices here at the high school. I find that my kids (my band kids, in particular) love the idea of me playing in the community band. I think it shows them I'm willing to make an investment in the school community above and beyond my job. However I don't have to worry about the students thinking my playing is overshadowing my teaching. There's as much of a chance of me going pro as there is of me developing the Unified Field Theory (please note attempt at physics humor). So you are certainly in a different situation in regards to overshadowing the students. But I think it helps to make connections with the students when they see their teacher as having a life outside the classroom.

    Anyway, keep up the great posts. I look forward to your wisdom and insights.

  10. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Nick, I'm impressed to say the least, and in the interest of sharing, I'd like to share my sliced up life of late.

    I have a young family who demand a great deal out of me in time and energy (and money) so practice has to be scheduled very carefully, and I often blow it (pun?) by taking too much time away from them. Gratefully, I adhere to the "rest as much as you play" so I jet out of the guest room and into the playroom or kitchen or den to be with them in between scales or etudes or Aebersold.

    At work, I've got a private office-- I work in radio syndication-- and it allows me time for my warm ups in the morning after I've hit my initial phone calls and emails. Lunch is great for practicing as my employee(s) are out and I can really jam it up (thanks Silent Brass!).

    At home I cook and cater to my wife and kids and bolt into the guestroom for more, again, in and out. Two or three evenings a week I rehearse with any number of bands or quintets but only after feeding the boys.

    What I've discovered, after replacing years of watching TV with serious practice, and now, some semi-pro playing opportunities, one can find time for anything without getting in the way of work and life. Hey, better than some of those golf dads who spend all wknd on the course and fail to recognize their kids.

    Ed Mann - Ed Mann - 51 - Male - LA, California -

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