Wynton Marsalis Practice Routine



  • Wynton Marsalis Practice Routine & Tips
    Three hours will allow you to cover all aspects of playing, but 45-60 minutes is enough for one sitting. The quality of the practice is more important than the length of time it takes.
    Practice has several basic objectives: sound, slurring, tonguing (single, double, triple), phrasing. The Arban book [Arban's Complete Conservatory Method for Trumpet (Cornet), published by Carl Fischer, 192.] is set up that way.
    Try to get as rich and pure a sound as you can -- an "unbrassy" sound, the kind with no metal in it. Louis Armstrong is a good example. His sound is really bright, but not brassy. It has a core that is warm. During the first 15-20 minutes play long tones, soft, from second line G down to low G. For the next 30-45 minutes work with pages 5 and 6 in the Max Schlossberg book [M. Baron, publisher], varying the dynamics and the tempos. Try to play through every slur, getting an even, round sound on every note, and getting over the breaks in the instrument. Also, exercises 59 and 60 in the Schlossberg book are good to strengthen your lips.
    Take a break.
    Use the Second Study (page 8) in the Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies [Carl Fischer]. Work on velocity, with a metronome, in major and minor keys. Slur some, tongue some, and double tongue some. Also work on the "kah" syllable. Go straight up the scale, starting with the middle C (exercise 32). In the Arban book there is a series of exercises to work on your single tongue attack. Number 19 on 28 is especially good. Try to get a nice round attack with some "pop" in it.
    Then you can open an etude book. Theo Charlier: Etudes Transcendantes [Leduc] is good for advanced players, or the Arban book for others. Do some double/triple tonguing exercises. That's another hour on tonguing.
    Take a break.
    Now deal a little more with slurring, but not too much; you don't want to kill yourself. Work out of a book like Advanced Lip Flexibilities [Charles Colin, author and publisher]. Then do some phrasing exercises out of the Arban book.
    Finally, play some characteristic studies from Arban, or etudes from Charlier or Schlossberg. When you play these etudes, or any exercise, always go straight through without a stop the first time. Then go back and practice the places you had difficulty. Play everything -- no matter how trivial or trite it might be -- with dynamics and sound and musical expression.



  • Then when you're finished, go back and do it all over again. 😁



  • Great post. It raises questions I have about structuring practice time. As you stated, “the quality of practice is more important than the length of time it takes” and some of us don’t have three hours in a day to practice. So what’s the best way to structure your routine if you only have an hour a day to practice? Do you cut the time you spend on each objective and cover them all every day? Or split them up over two to three days so you can spend more time on each objective?



  • @JorgePD said in Wynton Marsalis Practice Routine:

    So what’s the best way to structure your routine if you only have an hour a day to practice? Do you cut the time you spend on each objective and cover them all every day?


    I tell people that if they can only practice 10 minutes, get that 10 minutes in.
    Above all else, play everyday unless you're sick. I've heard a famous trumpet player once say if you miss a day then you're finished as a trumpeter. That's complete horseshit. Do what you can do with the time you have. Its worked for me for the last half century.
    If you have an hour, warm up and spend some time bending notes. It will make your sound better. When you bend, listen for the sweet spot. Its the point where the sound sparkles. There's where you want to be.
    As for single double and triple tonguing? Use the twelve major scales (and tongue the arpeggios) and the chromatic scale to practice this (that way you kill two birds with one stone)
    Next, work on lip slurs using the 7 valve combinations. Go as high and low as you can without straining. Make it light and lyrical.
    Next, work on some fun lyrical stuff and then some sight reading.
    Last, 10 minutes, pull out something that's hard to play (Bach) and work on it. The reason I say Bach is because you can get it off the Internet for free. (I'm cheap that way).
    If you want, before you put the horn in the case, take about 2 minutes to work on range. Start low and see how high you can go without forcing the wind.
    Before moving on to a new section, take a 1 or 2 minute break, get a drink of water, blow out the lips and then go back to work.
    Hope this helps



  • @Dr-Mark

    Definitely helps! Great guideline for a short practice routine. One thing that stood out to me is bending notes. I have never used note bends as an exercise, but I will give them a try.

    And I like that you have “fun lyrical stuff” as part of the routine. Adding a little fun to practice sounds great to me!

    I really appreciate your thoughtful response! Thanks!



  • I believe that Laurie Frink in her Integrated Warmup uses bent notes.

    That warm-up, BTW, is a concise group of exercises from Herbert L. Clarke, James Stamp, Vincent Cichowiicz, Bai Lin, and Camine Caruso.



  • Hi JorgePD,
    Yes, when doing bends, listen intently. There will be a spot somewhere in the bend where the sound will (for lack of a better description) "shine". That's where you want your sound to be and glad to have been of help. It makes my day!



  • One can find the sweet spot with bends but, then, how does that relate to intonation?
    All notes on all horns are not in tune.

    I suggest that bending tones is more to get your chops to adjusting to various microtones than to find the center pitch of every note - which is not going to always fit in music, intonationally.



  • @Kehaulani said in Wynton Marsalis Practice Routine:

    I suggest that bending tones is more to get your chops to adjusting to various microtones than finding the center pitch of every note.


    Hi kehaulani,
    I don't know about every note but here's what Texas Band Masters, one of the most respected sites say about bending notes;
    Note Bending
    Many young players have issues with playing above the center of the pitch. Note bending exercises are a wonderful way for the student to center a pitch in the resonant spot.

    http://apps.texasbandmasters.org/archives/pdfs/bmr/2013-12-anderson.pdf
    Hope this helps



  • I know that is remedial training for those who can't play in the center overall. Just pointing out that it is also helpful in training your chop muscles in being flexible enough to adjust to pitches that are a little "out of center" for intonation's sake.

    I mean, a lot of music is not "in tune" and needs adjusting to. I have a friend in the Philadelphia Orchestra. When I told him the Orch. played so well in tune, he said "We don't play in tune. We play out of tune together". You not only need a flexible ear to hear that but a flexible embouchure to play it.



  • @Kehaulani said in Wynton Marsalis Practice Routine:

    Just pointing out that it is also helpful in training your chop muscles in being flexible enough to adjust to pitches that are a little "out of center" for intonation's sake.


    Hi Kehaulani,
    I could be wrong but isn't that what our slides are for?



  • Maybe I read this wrong, but some of the dialogue seems to be about playing, and working on playing, all pitches in their respective centers, as opposed to working on, and developing the ability, to bend any pitch where it's most effective in the chord/band's intonation.

    For example, the best place to play an above-the-staff G may not be "centering" it in it's optimum place on the horn, but bending that pitch a little low. I'm just addressing a wider goal of bending.

    Working on centering a pitch gives it a maximum true sound and is a great exercise for those players who don't play with the maximum. meaty sound.

    Just that another step in bending notes is to take that well-centered sound and transferring it, to the best of your ability, to places that must be shifted away from the pitch's true center because of intonation requirements.



  • @Kehaulani said in Wynton Marsalis Practice Routine:

    Maybe I read this wrong, but some of the dialogue seems to be about playing, and working on playing, all pitches in their respective centers, as opposed to working on, and developing the ability, to bend any pitch where it's most effective in the chord/band's intonation.


    Me thinks maybe you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. I don't remember reading "all pitches in their respective centers" but if it's in there please cut and paste it to support your point. Isn't the idea of having slides is so we don't have to lip the tone so much? Otherwise, why have slides?



  • I think I'm assuming readers of this thread have also read another which talks about the value of pitch-centering practice.

    Therefore, I would just quote Bruce Lee when he said, (paraphasing), "Absorb what is useful and discard what is not". 😀



  • @Kehaulani said in Wynton Marsalis Practice Routine:

    I think I'm assuming


    You know what they say about assuming


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