Too much practice?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by tutin_trumpeta, May 16, 2008.

  1. tutin_trumpeta

    tutin_trumpeta Pianissimo User

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    Apr 10, 2008
    Hertfordshire, UK
    I have my grade 8 in 3 or 4 weeks and far from getting better I feel like I'm moving backwards. I was practicing an hour a day, except Sundays, for the exam but then I hit a plateau and with the exam so close it wasn't something I could work through in time so I increased my practice time to 2 hours a day - not immediately however, I did 2 hours and 1 hour alternately for a week and now I'm practicing 2 hours a day, except Sundays, and I seem to be going backwards. I used to be able to get through two of my pieces without major fault - always had trouble with Busser's Andante et Scherzo - but now the other two pieces are suffering also. My teacher has told me that I've reached a point where I need to do 2 hours a day just to pass.

    Any advice?

    Thanks in advance,

    Nick
     
  2. trptcolin

    trptcolin New Friend

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    Nov 6, 2004
    Athens, GA
    My only advice is something I think you already know: if you're practicing 2 hours a day and things are going backwards, something is going wrong. Try something different.

    Maybe record your practice session. Use a stopwatch and see if you're really resting as much as you play (I think most would agree that you should).

    Maybe take one day and play 20 minutes of fundamentals and put the horn away for the day.

    Pay attention to your feelings and your body during your time with the trumpet. If you feel bad (stiff chops, tense, tired, or otherwise), you're not helping yourself. Practice time, in general, teaches you to perform the way you feel in the practice room.

    Of course there are always hard parts of the music we have to play---spend most of your "woodshedding" time working on those, but not most of your PRACTICE time. That is, if you practice the Busser for 30 minutes, spend at least 20 on the hard parts---isolate them! But make sure that of your 2 hours of practice, at least an hour is dedicated to things you already do well!

    Reinforce good playing habits and sound beautiful in the practice room, and things will get back to where they should be!

    (my 2c)

    -Colin
     
  3. tutin_trumpeta

    tutin_trumpeta Pianissimo User

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    Apr 10, 2008
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    Thanks Colin, I'll try those and keep you updated.
     
  4. Miyot

    Miyot Pianissimo User

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    Jul 22, 2007
    tutin trumpeta, so you doubled your practice time in one week. Boom. Doesn't sound like much time to really adjust. However, I would think you would be ok if you made sure to break up your sessions into 30 min segments. Resting an hour or so inbetween. Playing quietly, in a relaxed manner. Not trying to rush and get better. That just won't work.

    Relax, work on what counts. Sounds like you have come a long way already. Don't rush it.
     
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    tutin_trumpeta,
    I do not consider face time to be practice time and cannot see a possibility to play 2 hours a day and not improve - if you are playing smart.

    2 hours is a lot of time to fill and to get the most out of it, has to be carefully planned. It is possible to waste your face in 30 minutes and then continue to beat it up for the next 90 - that is not productive - but it is 2 hours.

    My recipe is to take a third of that time for breathing, long tones and slurs, the second third for tunes and the last third for etudes and technical studies in that order. The long tones and slurs should be played VERY softly. You should NEVER practice music when your face is tired. Music deserves fresh chops and brain!

    If a piece is tough, you need to prepare it at half speed but with a metronome! Do not try and build speed up gradually, rather play it slow and in perfect time until it is memorized, THEN start to build speed. Your brain stores patterns and the better and cleaner they are played, the easier it is to play fast later.

    If you have 2 hours a day and are not getting dramatically better, you are not playing smart, rather are wasting your time. 2 hours minimum to maintain is not true. It is possible to get by on much less. Anything more than 90 minutes a day should bring serious improvement!!!!
     
  6. tutin_trumpeta

    tutin_trumpeta Pianissimo User

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    Apr 10, 2008
    Hertfordshire, UK
    Thanks guys, this is a great help. I've been playing for 16 years now but I've never, in that time, been taught or shown how to make the most of my practice time so I'll review what I'm doing and include as many of these suggestions as possible.

    My current practice routine is:

    15 mins - warm up & lip flexability exercises
    15 mins - scales (quavers, followed by semiquavers)
    15 mins - double tonguing exercises
    15 mins - triple tonguing exercises
    15 mins - Haydn (full run thru without stopping followed by detailed practice)
    15 mins - Busser (as above)
    15 mins - Bourgois Study (as above)
    15 mins - Run upstairs or down to increase adrenalin then run thru all three pieces followed by a warm down
     
  7. Brekelefuw

    Brekelefuw Fortissimo User

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    I firmly believe in quality of practice rather than quantity. Like Rowuk said, if you aren't practicing smart, it won't help.

    I can practice poorly for two hours and not see any improvement, but I can also practice smartly for 30 minutes and notice improvements.
     
  8. Tim McGinley

    Tim McGinley New Friend

    If you follow the practice regiment that you posted and implement a rest period in between each activity (and also have plent of water to drink) I would think that your chops would start to feel better. There is a lot of muscle tissue involved in trumpet playing (we all know that). Making sure that you rest frequently and stay hydrated will immediately improved practice conditions.

    I was also told several years ago (and I think this is fantastic advice)...
    When you put down the horn, you should feel good....not tired. So, each time that you end a session, play something musical with a relaxed warm sound and have that be the last playing sensation you experience before stopping to rest. Subconscioulsy, that beautiful sound and positive that you ended with, will be the same feeling you start your next session with.

    Sometimes, when we leave feeling tired or beat up, we come back remember that.

    Good luck with your upcoming events!!
     
  9. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

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    I would move the scales and tonguing to AFTER the Busser or Haydn. Music should ALWAYS be played when you are freshest!
    I consider "running through" the Haydn or Busser as destructive - NEVER run through something that is not "prepared". That is the wasted "face time" that I am talking about! You need to prepare the various sections first THEN play them together. Each sloppy run through reinforces bad habits like irregular tempo or inconsistent articulation. They become much more difficult to iron out each run through!

    Your detailed routine tells me why things aren't working. I recommend the solution from my first post with the modifications here. Stop wasting your time with the run throughs. They are not productive and even with increased adrenalin, you are not doing anything useful for your chops.
     
    misty.sj likes this.
  10. tutin_trumpeta

    tutin_trumpeta Pianissimo User

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    Apr 10, 2008
    Hertfordshire, UK
    Just a short one to thank you all for your help and let you know I passed my exam!! Thank you
     

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