What Is A Good Practice Routine?



  • A good practice routine is one that covers the different aspects of playing.
    Some of those are;

    1. Warming up. For this I do long tones, lip slurs, scales and range studies. During this time I make sure I'm aware of how my sound reacts to the room. The way the room shapes the sound is important and if you can hear the room, you'll hear yourself better.
    2. Single tonguing exercises
    3. Double Tonguing Studies
    4. Lip Slurs
    5. Melodic Studies
    6. Sight Reading. I use Sight Reading Factory (Internet sight) or some sheet music I'm not familiar with.
    7. Play whatever I need to work on or something fun
    8. Improvisational Studies

    What does your routine look like?



    1. Long Tones, widening intervals starting on G.
    2. Flow Studies.
    3. The Balanced Embouchure (BE), all exercise categories.
    • BE includes #2 to #4 of Dr. Mark's above.
    1. Technical exercises.
    2. Improvisation.
      • proportion of last two depends upon if it's a gig day.
      • also, if it's for a gig, then material, especially the tricky parts, of the upcoming gig/concert/performance.

    ps. I don't know why this format is so screwy.



  • I play a few scales, select an exercise book (Schlossberg, Arban, Clarke, etc.) and work on stuff I can't play yet (which consumes the bulk of my practice time), pull out a solo piece or two and play through them musically, and finish up by playing soft, long notes below the C in the staff.



  • I don't belong to any band. There are no "gigs". I'm not a "serious" player. I don't do "technical exercises" and I wouldn't be doing any lip slur or tongue exercises on a bet. I find myself getting better progressively anyway. I have accumulated lots of written music and approach each secession much like a sight reading contest to a large extent. I pick up one thin or thick book as the spirit moves and flip to any page an start playing. I might play the whole tune, or not, and then flip a page and try another. I might go back to one I wasn't performing close enough to right in the same session and try it again a time or two. I change horns every few numbers as well as mouthpiece. If over time my mastery of any tune seems better...and it does.... I'm happy.

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    1. Warm up with long tones and lip slurs. Start at C5 and work up and down.
    2. Do one of the lessons from "Mitchell on Trumpet." I'm currently on Lesson 66. "Mitchell" is great because each lesson contains items for range, endurance, flexiblity, speed, tonguing, and challenging key signatures. And the lessons get progressively more difficult as you move through the series.
    3. Play an etude such as one from Hering "Advanced Studies..."
    4. Rest
    5. At another time of day, work on pieces for upcoming performances.
    6. If there are no upcoming performances, just try to play musically from whatever source seems right.


  • @Niner said in What Is A Good Practice Routine?:

    I don't belong to any band. There are no "gigs". I'm not a "serious" player. I don't do "technical exercises" and I wouldn't be doing any lip slur or tongue exercises on a bet. I find myself getting better progressively anyway. I have accumulated lots of written music and approach each secession much like a sight reading contest to a large extent. I pick up one thin or thick book as the spirit moves and flip to any page an start playing. I might play the whole tune, or not, and then flip a page and try another. I might go back to one I wasn't performing close enough to right in the same session and try it again a time or two. I change horns every few numbers as well as mouthpiece. If over time my mastery of any tune seems better...and it does.... I'm happy.

    Serious question. Can one progress and build this way?



  • Or simply put: One that makes you feel great once you finish!



  • @Kehaulani Well...what is your end game? You plan to join the New York Philharmonic? Maybe be in the Jolly Seniors band at the assisted living home? Someplace between the two extremes? Want to become a professional musician when you grow up? Earn a college scholarship for music?

    I'm retired and have no further ambitions than enjoying my leisure until it's my time down at the funeral home. So I enjoy myself.

    From reading this forum and the one that proceeded it I'd say most of the members are pretty long in the tooth and any future trumpet playing fame and fortune is mostly imaginary. Which is not to say I would expect others to take it as lightly as I do. To each his own.


  • Global Moderator

    A good practice routine is one you keep up with, daily!



  • No need to be defensive, it was a logical question. When I started out, I usually played a standard warm-up routine, some flexibility exercises, exercises from Arban ending with tunes I had from song folios. I've wondered lately if I wouldn't enjoy the same program rather than working on more exercises, character studies or the like as opposed to playing songs.

    I'd enjoy it more, but I wonder how much progress I'd make (or sacrifice). Just a question to help my own program.



  • @Kehaulani You prodded and I responded. And yes.. it was a defensive. Good luck with your exercises in Arban. I still have my old book from back when music wasn't much fun. I don't plan to relive those thrilling days of yesteryear again.



  • At this point in my life, I practice enough to maintain what I have, so when a gig pops up I can accept it and play well. I don't enjoy practicing enough to do the amount required for significant improvement, because it's sort of like halving the distance to your goal every year. You get closer every year, but the advances become less and less. It's the law of diminishing returns.



  • Morning workout: I start out with arpeggios going from first space f down to pedal f. I go down chromatically until I reach double pedal C. Then I do the B.E. roll out exercises

    Next are lip bends. Second line g tongued twice soft, then long note bending down 1/2 step and back up several times. Proceed chromatically up and down by half steps until I reach 3rd space c and low c. Then I do another lip bend exercise starting on low c and bending down by half steps (all played open) until I reach low (pedal) f. I do this over again down by half steps until I get to low f#

    Next are B.E. exercises. Crescendos, Tongue on Lips, Roll ins, Advanced Lip Slurs (these are 4 separate sets of exercises)

    After this I play flexibility exercises starting on low f# and slurring up to top space f# using 1-2-3 fingering and back down twice. I proceed up chromatically as far as possible. I can generally get up to F and sometimes F# and G above high C.

    After this I play the scale exercises in the front of Walter Smith's "Top Tones for Trumpet" I can usually play these up to an Eb.

    After this I take a break until about 10pm. Then I loosen up a little bit and either go through the sets for the next gig or practice improv for a while.

    I apologize if this is overly detailed. I am trying to improve my range and endurance as well as get better at improvising. I am an amateur player but I gig a few times a month in a rock/funk band, a swing big band, or a jazz quintet.



  • Mornings:
    ( DAILY) A 20 Minute Routine, compiled by Greg Wing, Music Professor. This consists of Flow Studies, Easy ( on and below staff ) Lip Slurs, Tonguing and Scales Expanding to High C above the staff.

    More demanding Lip Slurs on, above and below staff.

    Finish with Caruso 6 Notes

    (ONCE A WEEK on different days ) 2 Octave Major and Minor Scales in all keys, Intervals in various keys.

    Afternoons: I play mostly ballads, some easy, some challenging.



  • Hi Kehaulani,
    You stated; "Serious question. Can one progress and build this way?"

    Yes, one can progress this way. I think sometimes we take almost an athletic approach to advancement. I know sometimes I do especially if there's a piece that's giving me problems. Chances are, all the little facets like single, double, slurs, melodic studies and the like are found in the music Niner plays. Here's an example. My daughter has never worked in an exercise book except for Arban's Melodic studies. However, she can burn through Bach and Paganini, has a beautiful round sound and is always first trumpet first chair when she auditions for the various symphonies in our area. How can that be?!?
    Once she got past Hot Cross Buns and Mary Had a little Lamb and could blow little songs through the horn, I had her working on scales and Bach for Beginners (piano book transcribed for trumpet by me) Bach has a lot of the facets (single, double, slurs etc.) found in the exercise books. My guess? This is what Niner does to some extent. You might say the stuff we practice is the same stuff Niner practices. Except Niner's exercises are found in the songs he plays. This is how my daughter does it and it's worked pretty well so far.



  • Thanks for a pertinent answer.



  • @Dr-Mark I think it is a matter of either you play to get better or you get better because you play. Both routes may lead to improvement. When I retired and had time on my hands and took out the old trumpet I had stored away it was a case of restarting from a very low level. Playing through these books, particularly with tunes I had some knowledge of as how they should go to begin with, improved my playing and restored more range because I could sense what the note should sound like before I made a stab at it. It also improved my music reading ability on tunes I didn't know.

    In the long run ability is something everybody may be able to develop to a degree but actual artistic ability is something that isn't learned by practice. How many great artists can you think of with little to no practical training? Louis Armstrong, if he had had clinical training would have learned technique that would have kept him from injuring his lips with too much pressure. Dizzy wouldn't have played with his cheeks puffed out. But they had talent to start with.

    What I like best about my playing is when my small fry grand children come over I can amaze them with simple tunes and can watch them dance around laughing and happy.



  • @Niner said in What Is A Good Practice Routine?:

    What I like best about my playing is when my small fry grand children come over I can amaze them with simple tunes and can watch them dance around laughing and happy


    You're making people happy and it doesn't get better than that. I practice hours to get maybe a few eyebrows to raise at a show but what you have is worth all the Monettes on Ebay. For me, the greatest level that can be achieved is to bring joy to others with our sound. Nothing is better than to see people tear up with joy when I play. Sir, you are there! Bravo!



  • Reflecting on this, personally, I can understand playing primarily for pleasure.

    I've been a full-time professional musician all my life, and fairly successful. (Not bragging, just qualifying what I'm about to write.) My go-to practice goal is to refine and improve (or actually, in my case, to regain) my proficiency as a player. I'm just wired that way.

    I may have quoted him before, but in one of Dave Liebman's books he said, "Practice isn't something you like or dislike. It's just something you do".

    But lately, I've been wondering about just returning to how I practiced when I was younger. To improve, but also to just enjoy it for the sake of pure pleasure.

    When you're a pro, there can be a tendency to be hard-core. As Niner pointed out, I'm not auditioning for the New York Phil. anytime soon and maybe (I've got nothing professionally to prove) just dialing back a bit and enjoying music for music's sake.

    It's something I've been wondering about, anyway, lately but this thread has brought it to the "fore", as it were.

    That still leaves my original question, though, as to how much progress one can make with just playing tunes for pleasure as opposed to working on more "austere" exercises.



  • @Kehaulani said in What Is A Good Practice Routine?:

    When you're a pro, there can be a tendency to be hard-core.


    You sure got that right! There are times my approach to practice seems more athletic than artistic.


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