I didn't find a category that this fits in, so this is as good a one as any. This was posted elsewhere, and I had a request from a credible poster to post it here. I don't know the motive and I certainly don't have one so just take it-or not- for what it is. To wit:
I'm thinking out loud and any one can jump in with thoughts on this topic. Which is: seeking perfect trumpet methods and exercises vs. practicing just about anything. A short anecdote to illustrate.
When I lived in S. Calif., I went looking for a Martial Arts studio convenient to me. I already was a 4th degree blackbelt and had trained in a variety of styles so, to an extent, it didn't really matter what style I trained with. I went to a studio a few minutes down the street from my house. I saw some things they were teaching that I strongly disagreed with, so I decided not to work out with them. But the result was, I seldom worked out regularly with anyone and my skill suffered.
In retrospect, it would've been better to have done something instead of nothing. Isn't that what some of us are doing regarding finding this perfect system or that perfect exercise, this Goldilocks mouthpiece or that Goldilocks horn?
Wouldn't it be better to just pick a system/exercises/horn/mpc. and hit the shed? Do we divert too much time and energy on extraneous things, resulting in too much of nothing instead of a lot of something?
Thanks for that thought-provoking post. I was the one who made the request and I'll be interested to see what kind of replies you will get here.
Dr GO last edited by
There is no "One size fits all " answer for this topic, and good sound recommendations are dependent upon the entry level of the performer.
What ever method or routine is chosen, woodsheding is a must.
I have a very prolific saying that puts things into perspective. "If practice makes perfect, but nobody is perfect, why practice?"
So before I give out the answer to this question, I would love to hear others' answers.
My problem was in accepting the fact that playing in my eighties is not the same as playing in my teens and twenties. So I was always striving to be better than I was. And knowing that even though I played first trumpet I was not good enough to play lead because the endurance just wasn't there and that made me try harder and harder.
People close to me often said I was being too hard on myself, that no one is perfect. And two years ago two of my bandmates, also first trumpet players, sat me down and told me I was a better player than I thought I was and should accept the fact that there is nothing wrong with being an adequate player in an award winning band.
I still practice fundamentals in the morning and play tunes in the afternoon, but stopped criticizing my playing. I will always want to play better than I played the day before, but I don't sweat it anymore. Adequate is just fine for this 86 year old player.
I think I'm just getting frustrated with people who are chasing their tails as a diversion from spending their time getting in solid practicing. Micro-analyzing this and that; not only missing the forest for the trees, but nit-picking what kind of tree it is, how many rings, what kind of bark, when it might be more productive to grab an Arban, Claude Gordon, Papa Mitchell, sticking with it and getting as good as you can.
This question is one that hits me very directly as it is connected to my permanent condition as an Autistic... We in the Autistic Spectrum tend very much to overemphasize our shortcomings and belittle our capabilities - it's just one of the expressions of how our brain is functioning. I don't say that only we experience this; but most of us are more prone to thinking we are not good enough than Neurotypicals. I'm looking at my own example: I finished my Leaving certificate with best marks, being third in a class of 129; I completed undergraduate university in record time with an MA in history as third of a class of 355. I then completed my PhD in record time - less than a year - coming second in a class of 88. And yet I always sought after becoming better still because being second was already a cause for depression - I was simply unable to put my achievements in relation to what others managed to do. Even when I reached the absolute pinnacle of my chosen profession and was awarded a Professorship in Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, I was not content. I could not strive for more, but there was that nagging thought I was not good enough... it ended with a divorce and deep depression; several years of therapy which did not help me at all because the therapists did not recognize the root of the problem, i.e. my Autism (and please forget everything about Rain Man and similar movies: There are such people about, but they are at most one % of the Spectrum). Only when one clever psychiatrist, at the goading of my wife, took the trouble of testing me for Autism did I suddenly receive the master key to everything that had ever happened in my life, and to my own mind. Since then, I have found the key to compromise and happiness; and now, I am not driven any more to try and reach unattainable goals, but am content to be what I am, and - in music - to be a good player within my own comfort zone. I still try to do as well as I can; but I now accept my own limitations while still trying to improve. And I am happy that way.
Hope you could make some sense out of this.
I think I'm just getting frustrated with people who are chasing their tails as a diversion from spending their time getting in solid practicing. Micro-analyzing this and that; not only missing the forest for the trees, but nit-picking what kind of tree it is
Yeah I see a lot of that in postings at the other site and it drives me crazy. If all that time analyzing was spent on some good solid practice of fundamentals they would all be much better off.
tjcombo last edited by
@Kehaulani thanks for the post. It's a great reminder of the maxim "perfect is the enemy of good". Whilst I try to resist being a silly old fart handing out free advice to anyone learning an instrument, the most common gem (?? ) I offer is to make sure that they play daily, even if it's just ten minutes. Doesn't matter what you practice, just habitualise daily practice.
Budding virtuosos will already be way beyond that, and have practice routines sorted, but for mere mortals and easily distracted kids playing daily is a useful aim.
FWIW, it works for me. The great thing is that it's very rare to stop at ten minutes, but there's nothing wrong with setting the bar low!
I am convinced that "perfect" is not a thing in music. Yes, it is true that some performances are objectively better in every dimension, but you reach a point where it mostly comes down to musical taste / interpretation....alignment of the planets? Who knows, but that's part of the joy of music. Spontaneity is the spice of life, and I don't just mean jazz, I just mean the intricacies of live performance.
BigDub last edited by BigDub
I am not here to tell anyone how they should practice whatsoever, or that anything so far mentioned is wrong, by any means……..but allow me to share my own ( fairly unique, maybe ) method of practice.
Let me give you some facts, first.
I am 70, first of all, and not a “comeback” player, but have more or less been playing for the better part of 60 years. I think many of those years where spent playing more incorrectly than correctly, I might add.
The way I practice lately, I would say the last 5 years at least, does not follow anyone else’s suggestions this far. I'm not a rebel, per se, but I am 70, so, “who cares what you think?”. No offense to anyone.
I don’t necessarily warm up much. I ( almost ) always play music to play along with, most of the time using YSB ( Yamaha Silent Brass )
for peace in the house purposes….
So, the set list is vast, and diversified, and that is what keeps my interest. After all, I get to play with Phil Smith, Chris Botti, Al Hirt, Wynton, Wayne Bergeron, Tim Zimmerman and the King's Brass, Herb Alpert, whoever I can find to play with. The list goes on……
I change my set list every day, though not entirely, and try to make it as difficult as possible, yet still keep it fun. To increase my range, I try to play things up an octave. Everything in the entire song. Endurance? I play things in different parts, same song, until all the parts I may have are covered. So, what, you say?
I repeat my earlier comment, “who cares what you think?”
So since Covid, I guess, my range and endurance has reached levels I have never gotten to, nor dreamed possible. True fact. See earlier quote. I am not recommending this method to anyone here. I am just sharing a personal experience. Probably there are many here ( and with good reason ) who would try to tell me I am going about things all wrong. See quote. I'm 70. IDC.
The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. I speak for myself only, and really, you don't have to believe me, it makes no difference to me here. If you heard me ten years ago, and then now, ( live, in person ) you could make a fair assessment, but you can’t. You only have my word on that, so my word is what you get.
Sorry for the length of this short novel, but I felt everything had to be included, and besides, I’m 70.
This reminds me of some conversations I’ve had with customers recently. One had never touched a trumpet yet, didn’t know how to make a sound, and wanted to know which equipment would make him sound like he played a Monette. The other one immediately launched into how “x” method changed his playing and that I should do it too. Thanks, Bub, but no. He was a 70yro comebacker, and while I’m happy he’s doing so much better, it was nothing I had a need for. If you’re doing more talking or equipment searching than practicing, you’ve already missed the point.
Twice this week I’ve had to tell other people’s students that their valves are slow because they have terrible hand position and are hitting them sideways- something that my former teachers yelled at me about constantly. Mindful practice with good physical habits goes a long, long way!
You get it.