The usefulness of facetime

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trmpt_plyr, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. trmpt_plyr

    trmpt_plyr Pianissimo User

    Jun 12, 2009
    I have hear many times on this forum and from people that practicing is the most essential way to get better, and that just playing randomly without actually practicing or rehearsing with an orchestra all day long, also known as facetime, isn't that effective of a way to get better. Many people say that all that does is build endurance, and nothing else. However, it is in my opinion that facetime can also build up your trumpet playing reflexes, and can make you more reflexive (which is basically more skilled) at trumpet playing. What are everyone else's opinions?
  2. EdMann

    EdMann Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 20, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Both are instrumental.
  3. Ursa

    Ursa Piano User

    Jan 17, 2009
    Northern Michigan
    I agree; they are both valuable. During unstructured practice intervals, I'm still hard at work improving tone, intonation, flexibility, phrasing--generally making the horn reflexively tranform my musical thoughts into reality. Improved endurance is also a benefit.
  4. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    90% of playing is mental not physical. The numbers speak for making a similar percentage concentrated practice.
    No face time for me. I do not benefit from it. I would rather practice less, but get more done. Considering how easy bad habits are to form, I think most people that consider "face time" are looking for an excuse.
  5. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    I think trumpet playing is more physical than mental , so face time can be helpful, not a steady diet of it but sometimes its all we can do. I find it helps my endurance ,tone , range and flexibility,I work a day job and don't have the time or energy to practice what I would like to ,so I work on my chops so I can keep working, this is physical, of course I'm a semi-pro and have my breathing , tongue, fingerings, range, reading ,etc..... together and don't have to really concentrate on these basics, just keep my strength and endurance up. I would never tell a student to only do this, but I also would never tell a student to not practice because he/she couldn't give their all because of extenuating circumstances .
  6. markquinn

    markquinn New Friend

    Jun 9, 2009
    A simple statement I learned during my study at the Anatowind Clinc is worthy of consideration here:

    "A performance cannot exceed the physiological formation which produces it. "

    That does not matter if it is in an orchestrial, band, Jazz or rock performance or in your personal practice time. Brass performancy of any type is a physical activity of muscular exercise exherted through the stimulus of the air stream through the head structure.

    It is important to practice daily, it is important to be aware of the condition of the natural embouchure so that you know what it's needs are, when you are able to devote time to practice you are bringing the notational materials that are appropriate toward growth.

    Measure your performance against the standards: Tone - Intonation - Volume - Range and Tempo.

    If your tone is breaking apart at 60 BPM on a scale, running it at 100 BPM is not going to fix the problem just because you think you are going faster.

    If lower register is an issue and you struggle with low tones, working on the lead chart you already can play, may feel good, but might not be physiologically correct for your needs today.

    If I have 30 min today to devote to practice because of life's demands, then I apply those 30 min to address the physiology to keep moving forward for the day. One day that might be long tones and low register playing, another it might be pushing tempo in a scale because I am on top of my lower jaw contact and jaw slant to allow that progression toward Tempo study. It might also be pulling a piece that I am working toward performance on and testing the work I have to done to see how it stacks up according to the standards mentioned above.

    It all depends on the state of the physiology at the time of performance/practice and what demands you are preparing for in the future.
  7. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Fortissimo User

    Nov 8, 2006
    Greenfield WI
    This discussion is interesting to me because I have seen benefit from a combination of "practice" versus "face time".

    Assuming "face time" means playing without written music.

    I am a comeback player who was barely competent in high school before I quit (and I say this sitting first chair as a senior). When I look at some music now, and it's actually getting better, just seeing "high notes" makes me freeze and tense up and then I play like crap. If I play some stuff, scales, thirds arpeggios, etc, without music, I don't have this same panic reaction and I can relax and just play and feel where the embouchure needs to be to work instead of getting overwhelmed by the notes on the page.

    In this way have I improved.

    I also play notes on the page. :-)

  8. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    I have read a number of threads that touch on this subject and I have asked questions on those threads and after all of that, I still do not understand the issues here. Maybe this time something will finally sink in.

    As I was reading the posts here, I started thinking about analogous situations. I have coached youth basketball. Here is what I learned. We started with structured practices and drills. The coaches watched, observed, instructed, corrected and reinforced movements to ensure correct basics. Even during scrimmages, we would yell instructions to certain players and sometimes stop the scrimmage to point out certain principles that needed work. However, in each players development, there came a time when they could practice on their own. We gave them an outline (so many free throws, so many layups, so much time dribbling with the off-hand, so many jump shots, etc.) and expected them to follow the outline but we did not discourage them from playing basketball anywhere, anytime that they could - call it "courttime", if you will. The courttime still contributed to their cardio-vascular development, hand-eye coordination, shooting skills, defensive moves, etc. If, at some point, we noticed that they were developing questionable habits such as hot-dogging or trying to dribble through 4 defenders without looking for an open man we would work on correcting those habits. But, in the end, the players who had the most courttime were the ones that became the fastest, the most athletic, and developed the best court awareness. Every run down the court, every shot, every pick-and-roll run added to their skill level and their conditioning. As time went on, the amount of structured drills became a smaller percentage of their total playing effort even though it may have stayed at a constant number of hours because they just played more. Yes, there were risks to free-style play such as injuries but those risks are inherent in life and we could not totally remove them.

    So, based on that, I do not see how facetime can hurt. It may not be as productive - minute for minute - as playing scales and long tones, but it builds breath control, tone control, an ear for intonation, a sense of musical expression and, in the end, more enjoyment from playing. Since many of us never get to play in front of other people, the only enjoyment we get is hearing ourselves. So, why are we discouraged from simply playing something that we enjoy playing, whether we have printed notes in front of us or not? I have actually memorized some pieces so that I can play them if I have time and an instrument but do not have my thick, heavy, unwieldy Arbans book with me. I think that facetime has benefited me and continues to benefit me. My instructor has found nothing so far that he sees is taking me down the wrong path. I do not have perfect pitch - and barely even any relative pitch - ability but now I can think of a 'G' above the staff, form my embouchure, and blow it correctly immediately. I could never do that before. I learned that during my facetime as none of the exercises worked on that part. I think that Arban assumed that everyone could hear a 'G' before they blew it just as he could. It takes all kinds of practice to polish the skills we all need.
  9. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Come-Back Kid, I couldn't agree with you more! With my experiences as a musician myself and watching my students over the past 30-plus years of private teaching as well as playing in and conducting community bands, it is the people who play the most who get the best results.

    Some of that playing needs to be in structured practice alone, working on scales, long tones, range-building exercises, etudes and some of it needs to be in rehearsals/concerts in ensembles so that we learn how to blend with others and how to be a contributing member of a group and some of it simply needs to be when we relax and just blow, playing whatever we feel like but always with a critical ear to what needs improving as well as what has improved. That critical ear should be always active and should be just as ready with a "Congratulations -- you've never made that slur so beautifully before" as it is with a "wow, that tone on that A sucked royally."

    We learn from all these activities, structured or not. I don't particularly like the term "facetime" as I would think that anytime we put the trumpet to our lips we are having facetime. Non-facetime, to my way of thinking, would be when we're sitting watching the news but a part of our brain is trying to figure out why we're having such a hard time with a certain passage.
  10. Pedal C

    Pedal C Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 24, 2005
    I've always thought "facetime" usually meant just noodling around, or playing without any purpose. With or without music, a study, scale, or tune can be good practice, but I think facetime is purposeless playing. Playing just to put in some time without thinking about what you're doing or what you might try to accomplish. Playing a tune you like is never's what the trumpet is for! Haphazardly playing a Clarke study or something without any mental focus, just to say you practiced today is what I would call facetime. Time that you're using the chops, but not the brain.

    We're all guilty of this from time to time, but if you go to the trouble of getting the trumpet out and playing it, why not just do it right and try to accomplish something!


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