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mr_guilbeau
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2021 8:00 pm    Post subject: Balanced Practice Reply with quote

Hey, folks! I am experiencing a strange rut with my practice time. There's a practice clash with family, life, lessons, ensembles, GA duties, and other usual obstacles that I have not struggled with until recently. I can typically get my fundamentals covered in the morning, but struggle beyond that. I feel like I may be spending too much time on fundies and losing time on music development/preparation. Not to say that anything is going down the drain, but certainly notice a balance deficiency. Getting some good help from my teacher, just curious as to what you all might have to say about balancing your practice time. Any routine tips or structural techniques that have helped you with these problems? Thanks!

Last edited by mr_guilbeau on Fri Nov 05, 2021 3:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dayton
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is something that many players struggle with at one point or another. Think of this from the perspective of risk management. Take an honest assessment of your fundamental skills and your playing needs. I'd suggest three basic categories: (1) What do you need to develop further to meet your needs, (2) what is adequate for your needs, and (3) what may exceed your needs.

Spend the most practice time on what you need to develop, and the least time on what you currently have in excess. Ryan Beach has an approach that might be useful to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqF4FQavxtE

You also need to be really disciplined about knowing when to stop. You could practice fundamentals for 8 hours per day and still not be "perfect" at anything. If you have two hours available and a lot of new music to learn then you need to spend less time on fundamentals and more on the music. You decide what the ratio is based on your needs.

Finally, don't forget that you can incorporate the music you need to learn into your fundamentals. Multiple tonguing is an easy example. If you are working on, say, the Morales Concerto, use that as your triple tonguing exercise for the day.

Good luck!
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 5:49 am    Post subject: Re: Balanced Practice Reply with quote

mr_guilbeau wrote:
... GA duties ...

---------------------
If you are in an educational degree track that depends on your trumpet performance, then your teachers & advisor should provide info about what is necessary for successful completion.
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I avoid these discussions because I don't get the fundamental love once you get beyond beginner. I would think an adult player would know what they need to work on and pretty much design their own exercises. And then beyond that, why do basic stuff at all. My music stand is filled with pieces that emphasize all ranges, techniques and pretty much everything I play. Most of them are free as public domain and are cornet solos from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Others are test pieces for different levels of education. Still others are modern solos done by famous soloists that had them written for them as showcases for the horn.

All of them are music. So why play boring stuff?
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2/3 fundamentals

1/3 music
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mafields627
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard III wrote:
And then beyond that, why do basic stuff at all.


That's one way to look at it and that approach works for some. Alternately, there's the old quote attributed to Lincoln about having six hours to chop down a tree and spending the first four sharpening it.

During my own development I had a teacher that did not assign technical work at all. It was only etudes, solos, and excerpts. I did not progress as much as I could have -- musically or technically -- but I was fighting to learn to do both at the same time.

Now, a fully developed player may not have any issue with your approach, but I think most players are better served by isolating skills away from the music and then transferring them to the music.
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abontrumpet
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dayton wrote:
You could practice fundamentals for 8 hours per day and still not be "perfect" at anything.


This is a powerful statement. When we lack the time, every second we are on the horn we need to be 100%. Which means we need to dedicate the time off the horn to expanding our imagination of trumpet, music, and concept. Singing, listening, etc can be done, with focus, by snagging 5-10 minutes here and there. These are easy trumpet boosters.

When we are playing, maximize the time by recording yourself. I personally argue that it cuts the time it takes to improve by a significant margin. Also, don't try and cram it all in, slow is fast even when you don't have the time. If you played 1 flow study, 1 clark, 1 lip slur exercise, and 1 tonguing exercise and you bring 100% focus and quality to those, it will be more useful than quickly going through 10 times that. My biggest improvement came when I wasn't practicing so much and focusing on quality.

Use periodicity when it comes to your fundamentals. Have a short routine and then cycle your focus. Day 1 Triple Tongue, Day 2 Extra slurs, Day 3 Single Tongue, Day 4 extra technique. And focus on your bad fundamentals. Once we get to a certain level of playing, its the deep focus that gets us to the next level and mindfully slogging through your bad fundamentals is a great way to see improvement over a year.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 12:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Balanced Practice Reply with quote

mr_guilbeau wrote:
Hey, folks! I am experiencing a strange rut with my practice time. There's a practice clash with family, life, lessons, ensembles, GA duties, and other usual obstacles that I have not struggled with until recently.


You’re not going to like this!

It’s about priorities. Adding ‘life’ into your priorities when you are studying… well, your life is supposed to be about studying, not ‘having a life’. The things such as family and school is what your life is about.

In college, there was one trumpet student who knocked back paid work and ‘life’ due to needing to practice and prepare, etc etc. Guess who had the most successful high point in their career? Not us giggers.

To be blunt, expecting to have a life as a student is rather self-entitled. Get the priorities in order. That’s where the balance comes from.

Cheers

Andy
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In pre-professional years, the balanced life is a fiction for most successful trumpet players. Fit in what you can after you spend 10-12 hours 7 days a week working on your playing. Or choose a different career focus.
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Andy Cooper
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's look at the big picture first. Your life has become more complex and you don't have the tools in place to handle things comfortably.

Either paper or computerized - schedules and check lists of all things you need to do - not just music related - and the estimated required times.

1. You might benefit from some sort of simplified Gantt Chart
http://tutorials.istudy.psu.edu/ganttcharts/ganttcharts_print.html
Rather than going over to the business or technology schools to see how these work - wander over to your university's theater department.

2. A bit smaller picture - a weekly planner.
3. Even smaller - daily check lists.
4. You would then be in a position to look at your specific instrumental practice needs.
a. Figure out how to use small "chunks" of time dispersed with other activities.
b. Devise a rotation for your various technical studies. Everything does not have to be done every day.

You get the idea.

Do you have to be this organized all of the time. No. But when you get overwhelmed - this can be helpful.
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rdpyle
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2021 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Billy B wrote:
2/3 fundamentals

1/3 music


Yup. This is what I was taught by multiple teachers over the years, and lines up very well with what Merri Franquin outlined in the Principles of Study from his Method. How you structure your practice within these guidelines is up to personal preference, but the order Franquin describes is a good place to start. Personally, my playing day is usually ordered something like this:

warmup
maintenance (fundamentals to preserve skills)
skills development (this varies, depending on what needs attention)
repertoire
tone production

There are short rest periods within each set, and each set is a separate session, with a substantial break in between. I like to end my playing day with a a tone production set, as it sets me up nicely for the following day. Listening takes place throughout the day. Of course, things might change a little to accommodate rehearsals, performances, teaching, etc...

-Robin
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mr_guilbeau
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2021 7:54 am    Post subject: Re: Balanced Practice Reply with quote

Andy Del wrote:
mr_guilbeau wrote:
Hey, folks! I am experiencing a strange rut with my practice time. There's a practice clash with family, life, lessons, ensembles, GA duties, and other usual obstacles that I have not struggled with until recently.


You’re not going to like this!

It’s about priorities. Adding ‘life’ into your priorities when you are studying… well, your life is supposed to be about studying, not ‘having a life’. The things such as family and school is what your life is about.

In college, there was one trumpet student who knocked back paid work and ‘life’ due to needing to practice and prepare, etc etc. Guess who had the most successful high point in their career? Not us giggers.

To be blunt, expecting to have a life as a student is rather self-entitled. Get the priorities in order. That’s where the balance comes from.

Cheers

Andy



Thanks, Andy! I didn’t say I add life into my priority list. Things come up or happen out of our control and it becomes a new obstacle. When parts go out on your car, an accident happens right in front of you and blocks the road, a family member passes, you get sick, whatever the case may be. I can appreciate your point but it does not apply to my post. You most definitely have to prioritize assistantship work, playing the trumpet, and your studies. Just wanted friendly advice on how some people have worked around certain things and managed their practice.


Last edited by mr_guilbeau on Sat Nov 06, 2021 8:01 am; edited 1 time in total
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mr_guilbeau
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2021 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dayton wrote:
This is something that many players struggle with at one point or another. Think of this from the perspective of risk management. Take an honest assessment of your fundamental skills and your playing needs. I'd suggest three basic categories: (1) What do you need to develop further to meet your needs, (2) what is adequate for your needs, and (3) what may exceed your needs.

Spend the most practice time on what you need to develop, and the least time on what you currently have in excess. Ryan Beach has an approach that might be useful to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqF4FQavxtE

You also need to be really disciplined about knowing when to stop. You could practice fundamentals for 8 hours per day and still not be "perfect" at anything. If you have two hours available and a lot of new music to learn then you need to spend less time on fundamentals and more on the music. You decide what the ratio is based on your needs.

Finally, don't forget that you can incorporate the music you need to learn into your fundamentals. Multiple tonguing is an easy example. If you are working on, say, the Morales Concerto, use that as your triple tonguing exercise for the day.

Good luck!


Thanks, Dayton! Really dig what you’re saying and my teacher actually brought up a similar thing. Panic Zone, Learning Zone, and Comfort Zone. I’ve been doing this for a while but have not focused enough on it. Definitely need to do better in this exercise.
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mr_guilbeau
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2021 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard III wrote:
I avoid these discussions because I don't get the fundamental love once you get beyond beginner. I would think an adult player would know what they need to work on and pretty much design their own exercises. And then beyond that, why do basic stuff at all. My music stand is filled with pieces that emphasize all ranges, techniques and pretty much everything I play. Most of them are free as public domain and are cornet solos from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Others are test pieces for different levels of education. Still others are modern solos done by famous soloists that had them written for them as showcases for the horn.

All of them are music. So why play boring stuff?


Maybe you have a different interpretation of the word fundamentals? Most if not all big name professionals today talk about working on fundies every day.
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2021 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mr_guilbeau wrote:
Richard III wrote:
I avoid these discussions because I don't get the fundamental love once you get beyond beginner. I would think an adult player would know what they need to work on and pretty much design their own exercises. And then beyond that, why do basic stuff at all. My music stand is filled with pieces that emphasize all ranges, techniques and pretty much everything I play. Most of them are free as public domain and are cornet solos from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Others are test pieces for different levels of education. Still others are modern solos done by famous soloists that had them written for them as showcases for the horn.

All of them are music. So why play boring stuff?


Maybe you have a different interpretation of the word fundamentals? Most if not all big name professionals today talk about working on fundies every day.


I think of fundamentals as stuff people play that emphasize different techniques structured through exercises. Is that what you think of them as?
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mr_guilbeau
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2021 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard III wrote:
mr_guilbeau wrote:
Richard III wrote:
I avoid these discussions because I don't get the fundamental love once you get beyond beginner. I would think an adult player would know what they need to work on and pretty much design their own exercises. And then beyond that, why do basic stuff at all. My music stand is filled with pieces that emphasize all ranges, techniques and pretty much everything I play. Most of them are free as public domain and are cornet solos from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Others are test pieces for different levels of education. Still others are modern solos done by famous soloists that had them written for them as showcases for the horn.

All of them are music. So why play boring stuff?


Maybe you have a different interpretation of the word fundamentals? Most if not all big name professionals today talk about working on fundies every day.


I think of fundamentals as stuff people play that emphasize different techniques structured through exercises. Is that what you think of them as?


Yea! I'd say that's a good way to put it. However, I wouldn't say that it is a beginner level thing. I'm definitely not spending "fundamental time" on my 6th grade remington and exercise packet. I like to focus on fundamentals in a similar way that Craig Morris focuses on his four key elements of trumpet playing. I've just noticed some off things in my practice time and playing (even though I am playing a lot) so, I was hoping to gain some advice or skills from those who may have experienced the same thing and what it was like to overcome it. This chat with you is real good though, you're making me think which is helping me focus back in. Much better than someone telling me to talk to an advisor or informing me that it's common sense to not have a life in grad school. Lol.
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2021 5:40 am    Post subject: Re: Balanced Practice Reply with quote

mr_guilbeau wrote:
Hey, folks! I am experiencing a strange rut with my practice time. There's a practice clash with family, life, lessons, ensembles, GA duties, and other usual obstacles that I have not struggled with until recently. I can typically get my fundamentals covered in the morning, but struggle beyond that. I feel like I may be spending too much time on fundies and losing time on music development/preparation. Not to say that anything is going down the drain, but certainly notice a balance deficiency. Getting some good help from my teacher, just curious as to what you all might have to say about balancing your practice time. Any routine tips or structural techniques that have helped you with these problems? Thanks!


How much do you practice?

How much do you think you should practice?
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rileyconley
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 7:58 am    Post subject: Re: Balanced Practice Reply with quote

Goodbye.

~ R


Last edited by rileyconley on Sun Nov 14, 2021 5:32 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Richard III
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I forgot, there is one more thing I do. I listen to music a lot while doing other things. So when I pick up the horn, what often comes out is variations of what I've been listening to. It's all jazz, but you get the idea. So if I had a limited time to practice, that may be all I do. I've done warm ups before playing with a group and get asked, "What song is that?" Usually its just variations on common songs and just stuff that flows out from all the listening. I have to tell them I have no idea, I just made it up. I'm guessing the OP is more classical oriented, so would this approach happen with those types?
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Billy B
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2021 10:49 am    Post subject: Re: Balanced Practice Reply with quote

rileyconley wrote:
Billy B wrote:
mr_guilbeau wrote:
Hey, folks! I am experiencing a strange rut with my practice time. There's a practice clash with family, life, lessons, ensembles, GA duties, and other usual obstacles that I have not struggled with until recently. I can typically get my fundamentals covered in the morning, but struggle beyond that. I feel like I may be spending too much time on fundies and losing time on music development/preparation. Not to say that anything is going down the drain, but certainly notice a balance deficiency. Getting some good help from my teacher, just curious as to what you all might have to say about balancing your practice time. Any routine tips or structural techniques that have helped you with these problems? Thanks!


How much do you practice?

How much do you think you should practice?


A perhaps better set of questions:

What are you good at? What are you bad at?

How much do you get done in your practice?

How much do you want to get done in your practice?


As a side note, based on some slightly disturbing stuff that I’ve read above: please please PLEASE don’t get wrapped up in the idea that if you aren’t practicing 10-12 hours a day that you can’t be a professional trumpet player. Often times the folks who say “Well *I* used to practice 8 hours a day” were likely wasting 6 of them. Efficiency of time spent is WAY more important than strictly the amount of time you’ve practiced. Smarter not harder. Quality > quantity

~ R


Are you a professional trumpet player?
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