Trumpet Discussion Discuss taking a break in the General forums; I'm in high school and i had off from school the past week and so i've been practicing like a ...
taking a break
I'm in high school and i had off from school the past week and so i've been practicing like a mad man, day in and day out, hours a day. at first it was great and i was loving it but now, a week later, something seems to be wrong. i have a jazz recital (NYSSMA to be exact) on friday and i've been playing through the piece a lot and recently i've noticed how soon i become fatigued. i can BARELY get through the piece (or any other practice routine such as scales or lip slurs) without tiring to the point where i can't play. i subconsciously begin to apply pressure and my style and phrasing suffer. at first i thought i was practicing my routine (long tones, lip slurs, scales) wrong and now i'm out of shape but now i'm beginning to think i've been practicing TOO much. i know it's difficult to decide on the problem without hearing me play but when do you pros decide when it's right to take a day off (and for that matter how do you approach practice in the days leading up to a gig/audition?) and what's the proper way to come back to the trumpet.
Re: taking a break
Check out a good magazine on bicycle racing and check out some of their routines -- some days they'll really push it, other days will be light -- all this to give the body a chance to recover. Don't forget the virtues of soft playing on your "light days." As the performance approaches, a light day or two the day before the gig is ideal. Real life is seldom this friendly --sometimes you might have a church quintet gig the morning after a four hour dance job, or a Mozart mass the morning after Carmina Burana. Over time, balanced practice will give us the cushion needed.
"A tool good enough to be so used and not too good"
C.S. Lewis That Hideous Strength
Re: taking a break
Do you lift weights? Do you do the same weight lifting exercises every day? Of course not. You know that muscles are built by wearing them down one day, then giving them a day off to rebuild. Think about this. When you are practicing trumpet you are doing the same thing with the muscles of your embouchure, making them tired. So approach them like weight training. Give yourself a day off (or better yet, just a lighter day).
I am a big believer that we can almost never be strong enough. I am an orchestral 1st trumpet and I really can't afford to get tired in a rehearsal or concert. I have to be at my best at all times. Or else I become an unemployed orchestral 1st trumpet. And I truly enjoy being employed!
A very large part of my daily practice is geared toward strengthening. For many years I did Maggio, now I spend a huge amount of time on lip slurs, upper range scale studies (the scale patterns in the Walter M. Smith "Top Tones" book) and Clarke's studies, being careful to not stop at high C, but making myself play into the upper range every day. And I always work on increasing my range of volume (louder AND softer) and endurence (playing the "Top Tones" book)
All this would constitute a "heavy" day. I wouldn't want to follow this with another heavy day. The next day should be a light day.
There is another advantage to this. On my light days I think more about what I'm going to allow myself to practice the next day, I look forward to it. And if I don't get to practice very much on my light days, but decide to play basketball instead, I don't have to deal with the guilt.
One more thing. Do you practice "straight through", meaning just sit down and keep going until you can't go any longer? Not a good idea for most people. Give yourself breaks. Go maybe 20-30 minutes or so then take a bit off (half hour?). There are no rules here, experiment.
We have a tendency to play particular pieces only once in a session. If you do one session a day (even a 3 hour session) you will play your practice etudes/solos only once a day. Now, if you do 4 half hour sessions spaced throughout the day, chances are that you will work the pieces more than once on those days. Even doing this on alternate days you will still spend more time on them in total.
AND--- in a longer session your brain tends to go onto auto pilot after a while. If you do shorter but multiple sessions your brain will me engaged pretty much the entire time you practice.
Give it some thought.
Sorry for the extra long posting.
Good luck Young Trumpeter (from a VERY old trumpeter)
Re: taking a break
Just take a day off. NOW!
You do not have time before Friday to work out a new "routine" anyway.
On the next day (tomorrow), just do a VERY light warm up and then your Jazz pieces. Like Chip said, several 30 minute sessions with at least 30 minutes break between. Forget etudes and slurs and other things that tear down your face for a couple of days. Play easy fun stuff and your NYSSMA pieces.
When I have a full schedule, my playing keeps me going. That does not work infinitely, but we are only talking about until Friday. Keep us informed.
proper preparation = discipline. That is also knowing when to take it easy!
Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
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