Sometimes multitasking can go to far. For me lately, my practice habits have been lead by the NBA playoffs. I settle in to watch a game but feeling guilty about not practicing my trumpet. So I decided to create a practice routine around the game.
I tend to think of this kind of practice as maintenance. More like stretching or breaking a sweat, and not a full blown workout on the horn. This should be be done with exercises you are familiar with, not exercises which are new to you.
The routine is centered around Herbert L. Clarke’s Technical Studies. I keep the volume low on my T.V. and practice with a practice mute sometimes. Some of the game go late into the evening.
I practice the first study in the first quarter of the game, then play Etude 1 during the coaches interview between the 1st and 2nd quarter. Then do the same with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th studies and quarters.
I have used other books as well. That said these other books are related to the Clarke Studies, like the Vizzutti’s Trumpet Methods or Robert Nagel’s Speed Studies.
This time of year has traditionally been a time of reflection on the year which had just passed. Sometimes I even look through some old journals just to see what I was on my mind previous years. Recently I had opportunity to participate, prepared and give a TEDx talk. The process of putting it all together offered a level of self-reflection which I was not really ready for. However by the end of this undertaking I felt the message in the talk represented some of my journey as an artist. The self-doubt, the persistence, the tension, and the development.
In the end, I would not have done this with out the help and encouragement of the TEDx coaches, my wife, my family, the other TEDx participants and ultimately the my friends.
Having a quick warm-up at my disposal has been a very useful to me. Somedays I have 40 minutes to get my face ready for a day of playing. Unfortunately too often I get only 10-15 minutes to play in the morning. And that’s it!
So when my private student informed me that they didn’t have much time to get in a good warm-up, I decided to help them and me with that problem. Here’s what I came up with…perhaps it might be useful to others.
Castro Quick Warm Up
Having a few opportunities to sit and think while waiting for my kids appointment to end, I have become accustom to letting my mind wonder about all sorts of thing. There is always something that needs to be done, like grading papers, lesson plans, practice mouthpiece buzzing, stick in a practice mute and pray it’s not a distraction for my kid. Sometimes it’s even simply lining up the next appointment or any number of parent related tasks.
Lately, I’ve taken to learning some new skills from several tutorials. A few I’ve downloaded on my laptop and some show up on Youtube. In any case I can’t figure out how many different ways to occupy my brain during these times. Games, podcasts, work related stuff, call my mom and dad…the list goes on. Either way I am frustrated and am now choosing to blog about a feeling I can’t put into words.
For now I’ll just look into the bell of my trumpet and wonder about what’s coming out of it. Conicidently, my latest practice routine has me working through:
- Irons 27 Groups of Exercises
- The Gekker Articulation Studies
- Vincent Chicowitz Flow Studies
- Verzari exercise.
Pick one group from the Irons then a set from the Gekker. Followed by one of the flow studies and etudes tongued and slurred, and finally closing the session with a Verzari exercise. The routine can take from 15-40 minutes, depending on how much time you have in a waiting room.
For decades, legendary virtuosos trumpeter, composer and teacher Allen Vizzutti has written method books, chamber ensemble pieces and solo repertoire for woodwind and brass instruments. His career as a performer is unparalleled and is something you should experience in person.
Vizzutti’s book “Perfect 4th: Studies and Etudes” is a thorough look into the many interesting and innovative ways to practice this interval. The exercises can pose challenging hurtles for all levels of player, depending on variations in articulation and tempo. However, like the Clark’s Technical Studies and Vizzutti’s Technical Studies, the exercises in this book take on a life of their own when memorized. Additionally, the exercises sit well on the piccolo trumpet for players who are looking for another set of studies to add to their routine.
For more information about Allen Vizzutti and his method books, visit his website http://www.vizzutti.com/merch.html
Practical Daily Warm-Ups for Trumpet by Zachary Lyman is a great set of exercises to add to your practice routine. I don’t often get an opportunity to review the work of a friend and colleague, so I take great delight in writing the next set of words.
I use this book often and I use it with my students to supplement their Schlossberg assignments. The first set of buzzing exercises have been particularly wonderful for my beginning trumpet students. It has been a great addition to my library. If you want a copy of this book you should look it up at Keveli Music. While there, look up some of their other publications.
When looking for supplemental material to enhance your practice routines, the internet can easily become an unforgiving maze of information. Recently I discovered The Bing Book for trumpet and all brass instruments by William Bing, and am very glad I did.
After looking through Mr. Bing’s website, I came across a free PDF of his book. I clicked the link then found myself running to my trumpet to play some of his exercises. He’s put together well crafted routines with variations for all levels of brass musicians