Practice vs. Efficiency

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by silverstar, Jan 25, 2006.

  1. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    Lara, the biggest improvement to my consistency in playing came from the kind of practice that I have mentioned in this thread, and while I was playing with a very good brass quintet while at the First US Army Band.

    I got into the quintet kind of by a fluke - the guy who was playing the second trumpet book went to a military school and was going to be gone for several months, and I was asked to sub for him...and I never left until I left the unit. By the time the other trumpet player came back from the school, I had earned my right to keep the spot. :D

    Anyway, I think that my consistency improved because of what a brass quintet is, and how good the other players were. In a quintet, you can't hedge and you can't hide and every bobble and mistake is heard, so you strive to minimize your mistakes. On top of that, the other players in that ensemble were GOOD! At first I was a bit rough around the edges, but I adapted quickly and my playing came up to their level.

    Being in a good quintet can do so much for your playing - you have to really focus and be consistent, and you really have to listen and lock in to everyone else for everything - intonation, dynamics, style, nuance, time, articulation, ensemble...for me it was the ultimate in "section" playing. It was almost Zen like how locked in to each other we were and it got to the point where we were so used to how we played with one another that even when we were sight reading new material, we were still locked in to each other. I don't think I was ever a better trumpet player than I was during that time. I was practicing the right things, playing in the right ensembles, and I had very few distractions to pull my focus from music and my playing.

    Relating that back to playing duets, you can accomplish much the same thing by playing duets with someone you know is better than you, and it's why I've started to play duets with my son - I figure it's the fastest way to bring his playing level up so that as a 6th grader he can be a contributing member of the extracurricular band that he'll start playing with this Wednesday.
     
  2. Tom_MacNiven

    Tom_MacNiven Pianissimo User

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    Hi there again lara!

    Another tip for using your metronome which I don't think anyone has mentioned is (whether you plan to play any jazz or not) is to set the metronome to half speed so that it sounds only beat 2 and 4. You will likely find this impossible to start with but I gaurantee you that it will bring you much closer to having that 'internal metronome' inside you.

    The clarke excercise book is good for this as it can break the monotony of these excercises. You can choose whether to slur, tongue or jazz tongue(accenting every other note) them.

    Fun fun fun!!! At least I think so!!!

    Good luck and all the best,


    Tom.
     
  3. silverstar

    silverstar Mezzo Forte User

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    Jan 6, 2005
    OH, the half speed metronome thing! Argh, that drives me nuts, but you're right, it does get results. lol.

    What do you guys think about just buzzing the mouthpiece...you know, buzzing the notes in the piece on the mp before putting it in the horn? Does that help with accuracy?

    I've always been a little confused about long tones too. My first couple of teachers never said ANYTHING about them, and when I got to High School I was in for a HUGE wake-up call. It seemed like I was the only instrumentalist there that had no clue what a long tone exersize was. :oops:
    How are you supposed to do them? Do you just hold the notes as long as possible? Change dynamics? Slur between or legato tounge? Are they really as important as people make them out to be?

    Ok..wow, those are a lot of questions.

    Lara
     
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

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    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    Personally, I have never had a lot of positive results from either buzzing the mouthpiece, or playing the leadpipe. I prefer to use the whole horn and for accuracy, I find that articulation exercises and arpegio exercises were usually the best for me.

    For long tones, one of the exercises that I used to do is what I listed on the first page of the thread:

    I might add that this tone was all done with one big breath.

    Another long tone exercise I did for a time was to simply work my way out from G in the staff in half steps both up and down. I'd play the notes for two full breaths in length, and then rest for 60-90 seconds before moving to the next one. For example:

    G - F# - G# - F - A - E - Bb - Eb - B - D and so on ending on low F# and G on top of the staff.

    The only "problem" with that exercise is that to do it properly, resting in between notes, it takes a good 20 minutes, and sometimes it's tough to be disciplined enough to not rush things, or to not get distracted and do something else. These were the kinds of things I did when playing horn was my job and I was given the time to do them.
     

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