Manny, I wanted to share this with you. I read a very interesting article by Craig Morris several weeks ago called Fundamentally Speaking (scroll down a few times to see the article). In this article he makes a very important distinction in what he calls â€œfoundationâ€ exercises versus the â€œskill setâ€ exercises. (Please read the article in the link. Itâ€™s short and provides some very good ideas). He divides the â€œfoundationâ€ exercises into two distinct categories: Balance / Centering and Strength. â€œSkill setâ€ exercises include Articulation and Flexibility. I bring this up because when my oldest son started Kindergarten last year, I started driving him to school every day and I was not able to get in my Balance / Centering session in the morning. Muscle memory is a very strong component of everyoneâ€™s playing, and I was able to maintain my balance for quite a long time after I discontinued this regular morning session. Eventually though, the memory fades, and what used to be simple and easy becomes incrementally more challenging. Over the past two weeks Iâ€™ve been spending time getting my playing (sound production) back into balance. I played a Saturday night church service, a Sunday morning service, and a Sunday afternoon rehearsal and service this weekend. There was a lot of playing (I play about 2 hours per day on average and this weekend I played 3.5 hours on Saturday and 4.5 hours on Sunday). The thing that amazed me was how important those â€œbalanceâ€ sessions are for me. When I have to do a lot of hymn playing, I know that I have to be careful not to play too loud for fear of â€œspreadingâ€. This leads to strength issues when I have to play solos during the service. I was balanced going into each of my jobs this weekend, and I was carrying this great vibrant sound with me. I didnâ€™t have to worry about sound production at all. The hymns were very easy to sing out to the congregation (little physical effort on my part), and the solos correspondingly had that same ease of production that Iâ€™m used to when I havenâ€™t gone overboard with loud low playing. I know Iâ€™ve commented on this quite a few times in the past, but how often do we focus on strength exercises at the expense of centering exercises? I know that when I was in high school and college I had never even considered doing centering exercises. How many people look at the Caruso exercises from a strength perspective? How about the Thompson buzzing exercises? Iâ€™m sure if I were to post a question like, â€œI have some important jobs to play this weekend and Iâ€™m easily going to be playing for twice as long as I usually practice per dayâ€, the majority of the responses would be related to how I should develop â€œstrengthâ€ in the week or two prior to the jobs. By changing my mindset and doing the James Thompson exercises from purely a â€œbalance / centeringâ€ perspective, Iâ€™m effectively taking the strength that I already have and multiplying it many times over. Much less strength is required when playing from a truly balanced state. My results this weekend are a direct reflection of this line of thinking. I know that the Eastman students spend the beginning of every practice day doing the first four Thompson exercises to â€œsharpen the swordâ€ and allow them to get the most out of every playing day. How many of us are going into battle with a dull sword? P.S. My afternoon job was with Tim Moke and he sounded fantastic! They took a picture of us and Iâ€™ll post it if Tim forwards it to me.