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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Practice Techniques in the General forums; Hey guys. This is something that certainly troubles all of us from time to time - you have that piece ...
  1. #1
    New Friend AaronPlaysTrumpet's Avatar
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    Jul 2011

    Practice Techniques

    Hey guys. This is something that certainly troubles all of us from time to time - you have that piece to prepare for whatever reason, and there's that one lick that's just a tad too difficult. Maybe some notes are too high for comfort, or there are wacky demands on your flexibility, or the dynamics are too extreme, but whatever the case the lick is just too hard to play. You can barely get through it once and it's difficult to play in context. But you still have to learn the lick and you're going to do it because you're a trumpet player and face it - we don't back down from a challenge!

    What practice techniques have you guys developed and learned from teachers about practicing a lick you can barely play?

    Once a Sinfonian, Always a Sinfonian...

  2. #2
    New Friend
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    Jun 2011

    Re: Practice Techniques

    Playing as slowly as needed to get it 100% and then slowly increasing the tempo. Doesn't matter how long it takes, just gotta keep increasing the metronome 1 bpm at a time.

  3. #3
    Pianissimo User
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    Jun 2011
    New Jersey

    Re: Practice Techniques

    i do like the "slow down the pace and slowly increase" strategy as well. there is a lot of benefit from slowly approaching the passage and working it through. In addition, I like to back up one phrase at a time and put it in more and more context of the piece

    depending on how sticky the passage is, I have found that “over practicing” it gets stale, I get in a rut, and more practice on it doesn’t always help; so, other strategies that I’ve used include, in no particular order.

    • I “cross-train” the phrase – I find the part that is sticking my and find etudes, other songs, and the like that work similar or even complimentary techniques.
    • I’ve gotten “goofy” and try playing the phrase a bunch of different ways to break my brain out of its rut – I’ll play it quietly, loudly, playfully, angrily, backwards, etc.
    • I slow it down and try to listen to it in my head. I want to hear every note and phrase as I would play it. I try to imagine myself playing it, I want to feel it in my hands and in my chest. I’ll do this over and over. I’ll even take the imagery and put it in the context of performance, etc. but this is another technique where I can get in “extra practice time” without exhausting my chops.
    • Sometimes I simply walk away from the piece or phrase and come back to it in a week or month – coming back with a fresh mind has paid off for me.

    I hope these help

  4. #4
    Utimate User
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    Aug 2009
    Jackson NC

    Re: Practice Techniques

    Quote Originally Posted by JakeD View Post
    Playing as slowly as needed to get it 100% and then slowly increasing the tempo. Doesn't matter how long it takes, just gotta keep increasing the metronome 1 bpm at a time.
    Good intent but I don't have that much time, I do it in 5 or 10 bpm. Had an arrangement without tempo markings just recently that had some familiarity but I couldn't place it. Usually I set my metronome at 120 bpm but I had to double it to 240 before I recognized it. At your rate, it would have taken me 60 days (two practice sessions daily) to come to the same conclusion. It was just an excerpt of Strauss Jr's Snow Waltz. One winter long ago, when I was junior in college, it was on the program for our winter concert, and indeed that night it was snowing. Certainly, I recognize why this arrangement was so composed which is exactly as I've quoted Jake D, a learning curve that I'll pass on to those I'll tutor. Too, sometimes it is the reverse where you have to slow the tempo down as I did with another arrangement from the same source.

  5. #5
    Forte User nieuwguyski's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Santa Cruz County, CA

    Re: Practice Techniques

    It depends on the technical challenge (or challenges).

    If it's a lick I can't play up to tempo, I pull out the metronome, slow it down to a speed I can play it perfectly at, and then gradually bump the metronome back up until I can play it perfectly -- *faster* than the performance tempo: It's important to have a cushion. If my fingers are getting tangled up at tempo, I investigate alternate fingerings.

    If the dynamics are too extreme, I practice it at dynamics I can handle and gradually try to stretch the extremes.

    Range and endurance challenges are another story: The first thing I'll do is take a step back and ask myself, "is it realistic to think that I'll be able to play this by the performance date?" If not, it's time to change the program or bow out for a player who can play it. And honestly, I'd never assume that I could add any range specifically for a performance. If I don't own a note now, I won't assume I'll have it a few months down the road. Endurance I can work on.
    J. Notso Nieuwguyski

  6. #6
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    Jul 2011

    Re: Practice Techniques

    When I have a problem with a piece, I like to stop and think what the cause of the problem is then come up with a solution to that problem rather than just constantly repeat it hoping the issue will fix itself.

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