Sacrifices for Trumpet Practice

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by john7401, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    I'm going into my junior year of high school and this year the work has really been getting to me. Hopefully it will be a lot easier now that marching band season is over, and I'm getting used to the classes and amounts of work. Up till now I have been a pretty solid A student. My GPA at the end of last year was something like a 3.85-3.95 because I got two A-'s or an A-/B+ combo for a final grade in two classes. This years first quarter grades were in and exculuding band and chemistry, I had B's and B+'s. This was with staying up into the night which had never had to be an issue before with me for getting school work done.

    My parents are now telling me though, that I'm not allowed to touch the trumpet at all if there is a day when I don't think I can get everything done. This was happening alot, partly because of marching band. I do get nearly all of it done though, but it does require staying up into the night regularly with other activities I do. I'd literally die if I couldn't practice regualrly.

    If you have stuck around long enough to get to this point, or skipped it, here is the question.

    At what point does school get sacrificed for playing IF trying to go for a playing career?
  2. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

    Apr 7, 2010
    Many things can happen to a player (sports or music). Never, ever, sacrifice your education for anything. School must always come first, and grades can be your meal ticket for scholarships and a bright future should anthing unforseen happen to your abilty to play your trumpet.

    Students will swear up and down that they are not wasting time. When I sit down with them and carefully plot out their time managment, we find all kinds of issues. I am not saying any of these examples apply to you; they are just examples. I find that the single biggest culpret are things related to the Internet. Students often study with MSN on and chatting to their friends. Or, they are doing their home work with some type of Internet entertainment in the background. This might include YouTube videos of your favorite comedian. When you have a free period, do you socialize or knuckle down and start your home work? I have only given several examples so you can reflect on how to get more out of your day to complete your school work and practice your trumpet.

    I promise, you have many options before having to sacrifice school or the trumpet.

  3. john7401

    john7401 Pianissimo User

    Jul 3, 2009
    Yeah, I'm going to really need to get into some big time time management to make the most of my time if I want to keep practicing more, start working out, and get a job if I'm already thinking I don't have enough. One of the big things for me is texting. Really only with a girlfriend though, but alot. Recently we agreed that it was over excessive and taking away from our time to get stuff done, so we were only going to some at night or call and talk for a short while at night only.

    I never use the computer for a lot of my homework, so that isn't an issue except when I do sometimes I do get on youtube and have trumpet music in the background. Recently I have been trying to cut out music while working too though.

    I don't know. I'm definitely going to get into that alot more though. Analise how I'm using my time and make every second count. I know it definitely has to happen going into college if I'm already having trouble.

    I should start tomorrow and start keeping a schedule of what I am doing when throughout the day with times for everything.

    I'm assuming they wouldn't add up to academic scholarships, but there are the playing scholarship opportunities for the gifted players.

    I'm going to google "time management" ;-)

  4. Scatmanblues

    Scatmanblues Pianissimo User

    Jul 19, 2010
    West Texas
    As a former study skills teacher, current over-worked researcher, and proud member of the "ADHD" club I have lots of experience battling focus and time management problems. It CAN be done, and results often surprise people. A good time management plan and some positive habits really can leave you feeling like you have more time than you need.

    The whole reason we are not efficient is we don't REALIZE how much time we are giving up. Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day, it's just how you use it. If you think you are busy now, wait 10 years when you are out on your own and having to have total responsibility for yourself and any dependents.

    You have the right idea keeping a journal of how you spend your time. My only advice is -BE HONEST. Even if you were sitting with a book in front of you "reading" for class -only write down how long your eyes were moving across the page, not how long you sat there. Also, time how long you work at a stretch at anything. The difficulty in doing that is often one of the biggest surprises for people.

    It's not unusual for people to only spend 3-5 minutes at a time "doing" something before casually checking email or texts, looking out the window, taking or making a call, or turning on some music. It takes time to get in a working rhythm doing any task, and after each mini-interruption it can take 2-3 minutes to get back to work. If you have a stoppage every 3-5 minutes, you can see the inefficiency.

    The trick is to learn to focus and only do one thing at a time. You'll get more done, and the work will be higher quality. This works for both "work" and "personal" stuff. For example, when trying to do math problems, you'll work faster, make fewer errors, and master concepts faster if you ONLY do math problems for extended blocks of time (say, 20-30 minutes or more). Also, you'll learn and keep the focused habit better if you designate an area where all you do is "work."

    For me its my dining room table. I only sit there with a book/computer/papers in front of me when I am doing work related to my job. If at any point, I stop working or get distracted I immediately get up and leave the table. Over time, your body and mind learn that when you are sitting in that spot, it's time to "work" and focusing becomes easier. The more you do it, the longer you can work. I can easily focus on a single task for 2 hours that way, but I started in chunks of 10-15 minutes, 4-5 times a day. I wrote my entire dissertation using that technique.

    Likewise, one "quality" 30-minute conversation with a friend or girlfriend where they have your undivided attention is flattering and more enjoyable than 75 absent-minded texts sent while you curse at the latest algorithm in your textbook. If you don't believe me, try it with your girlfriend. Tell her you need to focus on practice and homework from 4-8, but 8-8:30 is HERS alone. Then, from 8-8:30, talk to her. DO NOTHING ELSE -not even folding laundry or texting another friend. Just give her your undivided attention, and ask the same from her. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Girls LOVE being listened to (actually, everyone does).

    Now, for a redundant example, but one relevant to your stated life goals -the trumpet. The highest levels of achievement come from focused, dedicated practice executed as part of a comprehensive plan for success. If you want a career as a trumpet player, you will need to learn how to have a single-minded focus while you play and practice. Learning time management is just one of several skills you need, but an important one. When the horn is in your hands, that should be your only focus. My practice area is in a spare bedroom with a plain chair, keyboard, and stand. There's no phone, TV, clock, or radio in the room, and I leave my cell phone in the living room when I practice. I may not play as much as I used to, but when I do -that's ALL I do. You need to learn to do the same.

    Good luck, you seem to realize where you need to improve. Take it in small steps, and keep us appraised.

  5. ColinWhite

    ColinWhite Pianissimo User

    Oct 16, 2010
    East Lansing, MI
    I agree with Dark Knight, don't sacrifice your education. In college, it will be opposite of what it's like in high school; you'll have tons of music classes and only a couple non-music classes. You'll have more than enough time to practice then. Right now focus on keeping your grades up. In your senior year, it would be more understandable if you began to shift more focus to repertoire for college auditions, but it should not come at the expense of grades. Education is simply too important to compromise.
  6. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    I would say - "never sacrifice your education" - at 45 and a "comeback" player, I know - You can always restart the trumpet. So you should Graduate high school, learn time mgmt., go to college, actually listen to your parents (they see things from a different perspective than a teenager has).
    I don't watch much tv -- which means the 2 or 3 hours a night, that in years past I would have watched tv -- I can use for the trumpet.
    BUT - if you love the trumpet and can manage at least a half hour a day - I think that would be great -- it won't make you a pro -- but it will keep you in tune with your horn so to speak
  7. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I'm 40 years old. I still play trumpet. I gig regularly and make a tidy side income moonlighting in an upscale wedding band. I don't do any of the other stuff I did in high school and the grades I got back then really didn't matter that much. What's the goal? Are you trying for a major college where competition is a factor and you really need the high GPA, or are you going to go to a state college or university? If it's the former and you don't actually plan on playing trumpet past HS, quit playing trumpet now. If it's the latter and you want to continue playing trumpet, then play trumpet. The way I see it, it's just that simple.

    Music always has been and always will be a major part of my life - bigger than just about anything else except for my family. If that's how you feel about trumpet, you need to let you folks know that.
  8. laurie

    laurie Pianissimo User

    Jan 17, 2005
    I think you will get a mixed bag of responses to your question. In my view, there is a great deal to be said for focusing on your education. However....if music burns deep within you, and you really know that music is what you want to do with you life,give it everything you've got. If you can clearly analyse your ability and talent,and it comes up short,then focus on school.
    I made a decision to focus on things other than music, and lived to regret it. Although I now play in a number of bands and make a few dollars at it, I know in my heart my life would have been much happier if I was able to work as a Muso' full time.
    Life is full of tough choices, good luck in making the correct choice for you.
  9. Pete

    Pete Piano User

    Nov 17, 2007
    Time management is really important. Many young players think that they have to sit and practice for 1-2 hours or more straight without a break. Practicing in shorter segments, such as 10-15 minutes can be fit into most schedules.
    *Warm Up in the morning for 10-15 minutes (Caruso, Stamp, Rheinhardt, whatever you use) put the horn down and go to school.
    *After school do a quick warm up like Bobby Shew's five minute warm up.
    *Practice some range exercises for 10 minutes. Put the horn down and do your school work.
    *Take a break from school work and practice some scales, or tonguing etc. for 10-15 minutes. Get back to school work.
    *Practice some literature, improvisation, etc. for 15 minutes. Get back to school work.
    There's an hour of practice, and your chops wil also feel fresh during each one of these segments.

    I'm sure you take breaks from doing school work. Make the breaks your 15 minute playing segments. I hope this helps.
  10. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008
    I'll be the voice of tough-love here.

    Sounds to me like you're looking for an excuse to let your grades slip. The way you describe things you're a bright kid who didn't have to work really hard to get good grades. Now it's junior year and schoolwork is getting hard and you have to work more to get good grades. Instead of buckling down and getting the job done you're trying to see how far you can get with the least effort (this is why you're texting and playing on-line instead of working).

    I don't care if you become a pro musician or an engineer, if you look to apply the least effort possible in your career, you will get mediocre results.

    You're going to get to a point where playing the trumpet will get hard and you'll be around musicians who are better than you. If you lose focus at that point and apply "some" work your natural talent will help you, but only to a mediocre level.

    Your "job" right now is school. That includes academics and music. Now that you're getting older the competition in both of those areas is increasing so you have to significantly up your game. There's absolutely NO reason why you can't be a straight A student and an All-State trumpet player. Does it require hard work? Absolutely.

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