What are you working on? Why? How?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Shermy, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. Shermy

    Shermy Pianissimo User

    Jan 24, 2005
    Hi All,

    I just wanted to see if we could get some benefit out of seeing what each of us are working on, why we are currently working on it and how we are going about it.

    Maybe we could come up with some best "practices" (pun definitely intended) on goal setting, efficient practice techniques, etc.

    First off, let me explain my situation. I'm a comeback player in my late 30s. I started playing when I was in 4th grade (10 years old). During the summers while in high school, I played in a division I drum and bugle corps. I went to college and got a degree in music performance. While in college, I focused about 75% of the time on "legit" work and 25% on jazz. About 75% of the jazz work was big band jazz - not improvisation. I only started seriously listening to jazz when I was in college. After earning my undergrad degree, I went into the Marine Corps as a musician for 4 years. After that, I regrettably put my horn down for about 5 or 6 years. The first three years were spent back in college getting my MBA. After that I got a "regular" office job. Fortunately, my employer has its own Big Band, and my community also offers many other opportunities for me to play. I started playing again about 2 years before my 2 year old son was born (which caused me to have to stop) and am just now getting back to playing on a regular basis.

    What I am working on: My jazz improvisation skills.

    Why: I am working on them for multiple reasons. The first is to overcome what I consider to be a handicap. I've mainly been able to only improvise by ear. I have to live with a song over and over before I can effectively solo over the changes. The second is just to simply continue to improve my jazz vocabulary. Also, I have no real gigs lined up for the next month or two.

    How: I am "starting over" again with Jamey Aebersold play-a-longs. In particular Vol. 1, 54, 24, 42, and 21. My face time (having the horn on my face) is fairly limited (about an hour a day if I'm lucky) since I have a full time job and a young child. Currently a typical practice session will be about 5 minutes of some simple long tones and slurs to get my chops buzzing. Then I will work on a play-a-long track or two for the next 50 minutes or so and finally warm down for about 5 minutes. The play-a-long track work has been focused on chord scale work - first by using patterns that use the scale and chord tones, then by improvising with deep concentration to make sure I am using only those same scale and chord tones.

    I am also listening to tons of stuff. In particular, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Miles, Chet, Terrance Blanchard and Wynton Marsalis. Looking back, I think the single most important factor to date that has improved my improvisational skills is listening to these master improvisers. If I had been actively listening to jazz a few years prior to going to college, I think I would have been miles ahead of where I am today.

    When I get additional face time, I like to work on my tone and musicality. To do this I usually pick a standard jazz ballad that I am somewhat familiar with (have heard it before) and try to make it sound as beautiful as I can. For more focus on technique, I'll pull out an old solo I did on one of my college recitals - Halsey Stevens, Hindemith, Enesco - or a Charlier etude.

  2. bilboinsa

    bilboinsa Piano User

    Jan 24, 2006
    San Antonio, TX
    The one thing I am f-a-i-r-l-y regularly working on is soft slurred arpeggios. No matterwhat else I play on my horn on a given day, I try and get nice even steps up and down with all valve combos.

    I am also trying to learn shakes, as we have a chart that has them in it.
  3. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    I'm working on just staying in shape over the summer. I'm on a sabbatical from church orchestra, and brass band picks up again in August. In the meantime, our Civil War brass group is recording a new CD - our 2007 project, and our 4th CD. Most of my practice will be on cornet because of this, and I'll be working some on precision, tone, and endurance, mostly through exercises from Arban's.

    My main goal is to be as least as good this fall as I was this spring.:cool:
  4. dales

    dales New Friend

    Jul 11, 2007
    Arlington, MA
    I'm also a comeback player, back at it since 2001 after 22 years off. I'm working on ways to balance my practice, so that no matter how much or little time I have, I cover the fundamentals I need to continue improving. I like thinking of practice sessions as modular, expandable and contractible as needed, and with purposes for each.

    I usually play the Stamp routine to start -- the two minutes or so of lip buzzing, followed by #3 on the mouthpiece, then #3, #4a, #4b, #5, and #6 on the trumpet. For #6, I'm rotating through the major and harmonic minor scales, and have recently added whole-tone and diminished scales to the rotation. On Sundays, instead of Stamp, I play Eric Bolvin's Sunday Routine.

    Next, usually, after a break, I'm playing from David Hickman's new book, 15 Advanced Embouchure Studies. I'm on Study No. 3 and probably ready for the next one.

    Next is my fundamentals routine, adapted from Michael Sachs Daily Fundamentals for the Trumpet. I've played the entire hour-long routine, minus the long tones, but since adding the Hickman, I've cut this back to always include the first four Clarke studies. For now, I'm playing the first Clarke study numbers 1-13 slurred only, pianissimo. For the second Clarke study, I typically play numbers 27-37 slurred major/tongued minor/double-tongued minor in one breath. I play the third Clarke study numbers 47-52 tongued/slurred in one breath. I play the fourth Clarke study numbers slurred/tongued in one breath. When I have more time (and when I finish the Hickman book), I play the articulation, major/minor scales, low articulation, and half-steps from Sachs.

    The next session is music, and I try to rotate through several routines. I like playing the lyrical/endurance studies from William Bing's Fundamentals for Brass because you start low and go up half a step for each subsequent exercise. If I feel strain, I stop. I want to own the higher notes, and they'll come. Sometimes I'll play out of the Arban book instead, or in addition if I have time, using Bolvin's guide. I'm playing the exercises given in weeks 8 through 10. I try to stick the Getchell books and Hering's 40 Progressive Etudes in as often as possible.

    I'm on about week 19 (modified) of Charly Raymond's Caruso routine. It's taken me over a year to get here. I usually split this into two sessions, with the session including the tonguing, double-tonguing, chromatic pedals, and chord pedals always last. Sometimes I put a music session in between the two. Many Caruso players like to start the day with these, but I've found that they (and everything else) work better for me if I do them last instead. At the end of the day, I can almost always play a loud, in-tune high C any time I want it.

    I think the Stamp and Caruso routines, especially the intervals, have improved my ear and my sound. The Bing book is a treasure, too, for sound, range, and musicality. I don't consciously work on range only, and I don't think I need to play lip slurs beyond what's covered already.
  5. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    I work every few days on Chas Colin Advanced lip flexibilities.
    Every day on the Arutunian.
    I need to do some Goldman or Hickman double tonguing.
    Once in awhile the Hayden and Hummel on my used Eb.
    Once in awhile Concert Etude. I use it for double tonguing workout.

    Everyday I buzz to and from work with my extra mouth piece and 8 foot plastic hose. I buzz in the car whenever the guilt hits me of not practicing. It amounts to a French horn in Bb.

    Incidentally, I had the pinky ring moved back about a half inch and my third valve work has greatly improved. In the past I would try not to use it but it was there so the pinky was there. With it closer to the third valve the pinky is in the ring but allows the third valve flexibility at all times.
  6. cornetguy

    cornetguy Mezzo Forte User

    Sep 12, 2005
    Saint Paul, MN
    Working on keeping in shape during the summer and fixing a playing hiccoup that came in my playing. Special things, reviving the Hummel, Charlier, and double and triple tonguing accross the partials (where the t and k are on the same fingering but the k is on a higher note then the t)
  7. midwestchops

    midwestchops Pianissimo User

    im working on figuring out how to actually play:D im a comeback player and some days i go to practice and start doing slurs and arpeggios and everything seems easy including range. other times i cant play anything and ill have a hard time playing just at the top of the staff. im trying to watch and feel on those "good" days and try to have some consistency. for some reason g above the staff has been giving me trouble since im back to playing. even if i can knock out a nice solid a or c above the staff sometimes i still cant get the g to sound out. practice is a great thing and its taken me a long time to figure that out. i honestly never really practiced all throughout school. very very few times did i actually take my horn out at home and practice fundamentals or anything else. now my career is going to benefit from being a good player and i figure out that getting mad because i cant do all of the stuff i think i should be able to do doesnt make me any better. how about that:dontknow: sorry, rant over.:D
  8. Shermy

    Shermy Pianissimo User

    Jan 24, 2005
    I recently bought a copy of Pat Harbison's Trumpetology. I've had it for about two and a half weeks. I've been using it as a warm up and practice on whatever scale the units cover. I have generally been covering all 8 units in whatever section of the book I'm in at one time. I have started from the beginning - D dorian, introductory. Even with it being "introductory" it has really challenged me. The challenge isn't in the passages themselves, it is in being able to sing them before you play them - especially hearing where that first note is, or finding your pitch if you get lost. This alone has really helped me "hear" the chord tones. It takes me about 20 minutes to go through the eight units in each section. I have spent the first week on D dorian, introductory, the second week on D dorian, intermediate, and I just started G dorian, introductory this week.

    Here is how the method works. Each unit is played over a 2 1/2 minute track of a rhythm section playing chords in the key of the exercise on a CD (i.e. they play D dorian throughout the first track). You usually rest 4 or 8 measures and then play the same amount of time followed by 4 or 8 measures rest. During the rests you are to sing the upcoming passage.

    They make for great warm ups, scale practice, interval practice, and ear training.

    After I finish the eight units I then move on to one or two tracks on one of the Jamey Aebersold books.
  9. BergeronWannabe

    BergeronWannabe Piano User

    Feb 6, 2007
    Nice, I'll have to check that out...thanks!
  10. Richard Oliver

    Richard Oliver Forte User

    Jul 18, 2006
    Casper, WY

    Great post.

    I work too 8 hrs a day. 50 year old comebacker, 18 months in. I was never a whiz to begin, but loved playing.

    What: Fundamentals out of Arban's

    Why: To get the technique I never had. Recoup and better the sound I did have. Lastly, to get a really firm platform with which to advance to the "advanced" studies in Arban's.

    How: TK, slurring and legato playing, chromatic scales, & prep studies on the turn. Basically the next 3 parts of Arban's after the 1st studies + double tonguing. I just finished the major and minor scales and will of course return to them. Also, Eric Bolvin's "The Arban's Manual" has been a god-send.

    I really admire all you who can play jazz or want to learn how. It's never been my bag, so I stick to the cornet repertoire with an eye to excelling in concert band and maybe a community orchestra one day.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2007

Share This Page