Persistent Ear-Worm

Over the summer I find myself going between the dropping off my kid at summer camps, helping the family with home-related projects, working/ continuing to learn how to care for my house, writing/ arranging music and (of course) practicing my instrument. Summer is a convenient time to make significant progress on some of these things.

With that in mind, I took to expanding some of what I do on my trumpet. If you spend time practicing an instrument, typically one plays exercises in a pattern. In my case, scale patterns. In order to switch things up, I thought it would be a good idea to rehash some of the jazz improvisation patterns I did so long ago as a student.

After working on transcriptions of Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Fats Navarro, and Clifford Brown, I started working on scale and arpeggio patterns related to Giant Steps by John Coltrane. As a classical guy, I tend to use chord changes in several ways.

First as a way of staying flexible through the different registers on the trumpet.

Second, it’s great for ear training because it reminds me that I need to hear the music before I play it.

Third, when breaking down some chord patterns, you can use them to practice alternate fingering. I often practice a small section and try to find natural lip slurs. Kind of like doing Clark #3 with mainly lip slurs like playing G major with a 1-3 fingering at the start.

However, Giant Steps is a different animal. First I can’t get the tune out of my head, and I can’t get Coltrane’s playing out of my ear as well. His navigation of those harmonies is mesmerizing. After listening to it for a period of time, I started to dream in these chord patterns. It’s an incredible piece of music and art.

 

 

NBA Playoffs and Trumpet

Once again, I find myself multitasking during the NBA playoffs and somehow settle on a practice routine while watching games. This year it’s been four books, the Max Schlossberg Daily Drills and Clarke Technical Studies, Charles Colin Advanced Lip Flexibilities and finally any variation of flow studies.

The first quarter involves mouthpiece buzzing of Schlossberg Long Tone exercises 1-3, then played on the trumpet. Numbers 8 and 9 on mouthpiece then on the trumpet and eventually numbers 31 and 32. All of these exercises played with a metronome running at 72 beats per minute.

The second quarter is when players off the bench start to contribute, this is Clarke Studies time. I like to either pick a key and play as many exercises in that key as possible, or I pick one of the studies and work through those exercises and end with the Etudes.

Half time is snack time and rest time.

The third quarter is for Lip Flexibilities. I’m a fan of Vol. 3 for this part of the game. Play and rest are key, these exercises can be taxing.

For the 4th quarter, flow studies like the Snedecor Lyrical Studies or Concone Lyrical Studies. 

Trumpet and Basketball

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.
 

Quick Warm Up

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!no-time-480-300x300

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

Waiting Rooms Ramblings and Trumpet Routine

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.IMG_3778

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.

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Lyman Practical Daily Warm-Ups for Trumpet: Book Review

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.

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Bing Trumpet Method: Book Review

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

bill_front Bing Book Cover Front