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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Getting My Act Back Together in the General forums; I'm posting this not because I really think that anyone here is going to care that much about whether or ...
  1. #1
    Utimate User trickg's Avatar
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    Getting My Act Back Together

    I'm posting this not because I really think that anyone here is going to care that much about whether or not my chops are in shape, but I'm hoping for a little inspiration because I know that most of us feel like we are all in this together - that we are all having our own little personal battles with this wonderful instrument, the trumpet.

    I don't know if this is common knowledge, but some of you know that I gig pretty regularly in both a rock/show band and a Big Band here in the Baltimore area. Over the last six months or so, my chops have deteriorated a bit, mainly because I just haven't been giving myself the time behind the horn that I need to. I'm still getting through the gigs ok though, because for the kind of playing that I do, especially with the rock band, finesse behind the horn tends to take a back seat to endurance and just getting through the gig.

    Recently, I have made plans to go back home and do some playing in church - a kind of playing that I used to consider myself pretty decent, but also a kind of playing that I haven't tackled in quite some time and I found to my dismay about a week ago when I started working with the music, that my legit/finesse playing is G-O-N-E Gone! So, I have done what any other dedicated trumpet player in my position would do - I started practicing again with a renewed purpose.

    So far, so good. Several aspects of my playing such as clean attacks, articulation and flexibility, are coming back into focus pretty quickly. This isn't to say that a week of dedicated practice can make up for letting it go for well over a year, but it's nice to know that the chops don't really forget, although you do have to dust those cobwebs off and oil the hinges again! :)

    I have 3 months to get myself back to where I feel like I'll sound like I know what I'm doing behind the horn in a legit setting again. Wish me luck!
    Patrick Gleason

    "What we do in life echoes in eternity"
    "At my signal, unleash hell."
    - Maximus Decimus Meridius

  2. #2
    Fortissimo User
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    Ahhh.... long tones at ppppp :) OK, so you know that already! Flow exercises, etudes... you probaby have that covered as well. chorales... fantastic stuff. Dare I suggest getting a couple or three others and working some ensemble music? "Tone Poems"? Baroque? some of James Olcott's stuff? Make 'em SING!

    Hey man, those skills will spring back faster than you know. Sure is a great argument for reinforcing the need to cover MANY different genres during practice though, isn't it?

    That leads me to another point.... I believe that "we" do ourselves a disfavor by ranking exercise music as "beginner", "intermediate", etc. I believe that even the "simplest" exercises are great for ANYONE regardless of their skill level. I've recently (OK, a month back) started doing some exercises (long, slow, quiet slurs) that are no higher than "C" in the staff.... no more than about 10 minutes a day. Suddenly my tone quality has improved, my ability to get clean attacks is greater, C down to F# is "speaking" quicker and easier, and 'my' upper range (A to high C) is getting EASIER. Now, if a very simple exercise such as that can produce those kind of results, they shouldn't be called "beginner" in my books.

    I would prefer that the "authors" of these exercises would just call them "simple", "intermediate", and "difficult".

    OK... gotta go and warm up now.... extra 9:30 rehearsal for next weekend's concerts (wish those clarinets would learn their music a bit earlier). And one of those percussionists.... his mainspring is wound too tight. Of course the trumpets are dead on the money... as always. (HA!)

  3. #3
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    What I would like to know is why those simple exercises work so well? I've seen the same thing you have, Ed, with those slow lip slurs. I'm wondering if anybody knows why (or how) they work?

    Yep, it's concert season down here as well. It's the flute and tenor sax sections in my band that are driving the rest of us crazy. The flutes can't play in tune and the saxes can't see the key signatures!

    As for encouraging words----here's a thought: try to find a church to practice in. I've seen quite a few churches where the acoustics are really good and even little mistakes get noticed. That will keep the practice from getting sloppy and you'll probably love the sound of the music soaring through the open spaces. I have a little church with acoustics like that and I love to play over there.

    Bill
    Gabriel is NOT a woodwind player!

  4. #4
    Utimate User trickg's Avatar
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    When it comes to practicing to get my technique back in order, I almost always start with very simple exercises.

    Long tones
    Basic articulation
    basic lip slurs

    All of these I do under middle C.

    For articulation exercises, I simply start single tonguing on a G in the staff, sixteenth notes, slow enough so that I can play them cleanly, then I move up to C by half steps. Then I do the same thing starting at C, moving down to low F#.

    For double tonguing, I simply start double tonguing on a G in the staff until it starts to clean up. Then I move both up and down the scale, keeping things clean and really focusing on what is coming out of my bell.

    I figure that if I can't do the most basic of basic cleanly and accurately, there is no point in going for broke on something else from a method book.

    lip slurs are all just really basic, focusing on hitting the notes accurately and cleanly, and moving between the notes smoothly.

    I'm no stranger to this kind of practice. I know what I'm capable of and I know where I've been, it's just harder to maintain now with my life the way that it is. I just have to sacrifice a little time elsewhere and discipline mylself to get it done.

    Thanks for the encouragement! :)
    Patrick Gleason

    "What we do in life echoes in eternity"
    "At my signal, unleash hell."
    - Maximus Decimus Meridius

  5. #5
    Forte User MUSICandCHARACTER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trickg
    I'm no stranger to this kind of practice. I know what I'm capable of and I know where I've been, it's just harder to maintain now with my life the way that it is. I just have to sacrifice a little time elsewhere and discipline mylself to get it done.
    If you are not a professional, this is always the case. I like to practice. I like to be the one to go to when they need someone (either in the community or at church). But you have to practice. Can I practice 20 hours a week like I did when I was a music major. No way. But I do need to practice more.

    It is that darn job and wanting to eat that gets in the way

    M&C
    Dr. Jim Fox
    Licensed Mental Health Therapist
    Owner: www.allbrassradio.com

  6. #6
    Utimate User trickg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MUSICandCHARACTER
    If you are not a professional, this is always the case....

    ...It is that darn job and wanting to eat that gets in the way

    M&C
    I used to be a "professional" at one time and I seem to think that I should still be able to perform at the same level that I used to.

    I was an Army Bandsman for 10 years. In those first 3 years, when I was still single and my whole life revolved around playing my horn, my technique reached a level where I could hold my own in pretty much any ensemble that I was a part of, even though I have never been what you would call a world class player, or a cut above the rest.

    I have not been at that level technically since before my first child was born 10 years ago. I can still get and hold a gig, but I long to be able to play that way again. My son is playing trumpet now and I look forward to the day that we are playing music together. That way I can still spend time with the family AND get my practice time in.
    Patrick Gleason

    "What we do in life echoes in eternity"
    "At my signal, unleash hell."
    - Maximus Decimus Meridius

  7. #7
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    do you get enough rest?
    1946 Martin Committee, Bach 5V

  8. #8
    Utimate User trickg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfrmphilly
    do you get enough rest?
    No.

    I have had a bad habit of not getting enough sleep since before I got out of High School. I suppose that by now I should be used to it, but do you ever really get used to getting too little sleep?

    I took yesterday off completely. I worked my chops pretty hard for about 5 days straight and one thing that working out with weights has taught me is that recovery time can be equally as important as the workouts. The same applies to the chops. If you never give them time to recover, you can overwork and damage them.

    I'll probably hit it again today, but I will still only do the basics.
    Patrick Gleason

    "What we do in life echoes in eternity"
    "At my signal, unleash hell."
    - Maximus Decimus Meridius

  9. #9
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    I'm not an expert but most of the things you're talking about might be resolved by getting enough rest.
    1946 Martin Committee, Bach 5V

  10. #10
    Forte User MUSICandCHARACTER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfrmphilly
    I'm not an expert but most of the things you're talking about might be resolved by getting enough rest.
    I am an expert and that is good advice! (I should take it myself so I am going to bed )

    M&C
    Dr. Jim Fox
    Licensed Mental Health Therapist
    Owner: www.allbrassradio.com

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