What did you practice?

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What did you practice?

Post  dvnbrennan on Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:22 am

Salutations, Mr. Vizzutti. I cannot express that gratitude I am experiencing in allowing us to contact you. I have been playing for seven years and am only 19. However, I often dream of teaching "band" at a collegiate level someday and I understand that I must become much more proficient at my instrument. I've even considered joining the Air Force and playing in one of their bands. So, what is it you played most often? Was it just countless repetitions of scales? Intervals? What was it that helped you become the amazing trumpeter that you are?

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Practical Practicing

Post  Allen_Vizzutti on Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:49 pm

Your notions about teaching music and ideas about checking out military bands are smart, noble and practical.

My Dad, a self taught trumpet player, taught me. We had frequent short lessons and a weekly 'long' lesson. Although we had no way of knowing in advance, I am, luckily, well suited to the trumpet. The choice of instrument was total luck, fate, serendipity, Occum's razor or who knows...? My Dad encouraged, organized and literally laid out practice plans for me. We also had fun playing duets and I had lots of band and orchestra and eventually solo commitments to help motivate me. At one point, this is all before finishing high school, we worked through the entire Arban book page by page - not once but twice. We also observed the limitations of the Arban regarding limited use of difficult keys, limited range and dated melodic qualities. As a result I eventually had lots of other challenging and melodic literature and books Dad researched, found and brought home. Our understanding was that I would practice daily without fail which I did missing only one week on a family trip until I was 17. (Don't remember about sick days but I do remember practicing with head aches and other symptoms).
Snapshots of memory from that period include starting "advanced" techniques such as multiple tonguing at an early age. Why not? Always having an organized warm up. Struggling with range over high C. Processing performance anxiety with some success as it turns out. Not understanding piccolo trumpet or Baroque literature - I was in Montana. Having good endurance. Thinking even then about using minimal pressure. Learning that a huge mouthpiece was NOT for me. I frequently practiced Arban, Clarke Technical and Characteristic Studies, Rubank, St. Jacome, Charlier, Tomasi, Bitsch, Petitte, Schlosberg, Haydn, Hummel, Cornet solos, transpostion etc.
Now to really belabor the point I am going to paste in most of an article on practicing I wrote for a mag. Hope this inspires!

It is universally understood that daily practice is essential in achieving a high level of performance on a musical instrument. Humans learn by repetition. Confidence and consistency are established through experience. Muscles and the brain are trained by hands-on study and experimentation. The tactile and emotional experience of playing a musical instrument is necessarily organic and personal. Modern technological marvels, while contributing to the ease of study and convenience of study materials, will never replace practice time. The cliché, “Practice makes perfect,” rings as true now as it did 200 years ago. (Well it’s never perfect but you get the idea).
All casual musicians want to play the best they can within the parameters of their busy lives and level of commitment. Serious players get genuinely excited about practicing and it’s inherent benefits. Consistent high quality daily practice will absolutely determine your performance level both mentally and physically. It makes sense to find concrete ways to make your practice time enjoyable, efficient and productive.
The amount of time you spend in the practice room is very personal. Realizing improvement in technical skills, musicality, range and endurance in a relatively short amount of practice time is feasible as long as your playing fundamentals are in order and your mental focus is good. Trumpet is an instrument that demands regular “chop time” in order to insure quality tone production, good response and flexibility. There will never be a substitute for practice in the trumpet world. Daily practice time for as little as an hour can yield acceptable results. Many trumpet players desire to practice much longer and do. Improvement can prove illusive. Frustration may well up. Sometimes you need motivation and guidance in getting organized.
Divide your practice session into three parts: 1) Warm-up, 2) Technical Studies and 3) Music. All of your playing during each section must be approached with deep, relaxed breathing, the best sound you can produce and musical phrasing. The more beautiful your sound and the better your musical phrasing, the more quickly you will develop consistency, technique, range and endurance. Each improved facet of instrumental study contributes to the quality and success of the whole.
Part 1 - Warm Up Warming up must be a fundamental part of routine practice. Establishing mental focus, muscle and lip flexibility, and deep breathing are crucial to successful performance. These four elements included in the “Allen Vizzutti Method” books yield wonderful results when used on a daily basis. The main components of the warm-up are: 1) mouthpiece playing, 2) articulations patterns, 3) smooth long tones, and 4) scale and pattern studies. It is not necessary to play all of the studies each day but you should warm up using part of each section daily. Eventually you may vary this warm up using your own ideas or using similar materials as illustrated in my method books.
Part 2 - Technical Studies Conceptualize the technical studies section as music for flow and smoothness. The studies are also intended to improve finger flexibility and familiarity with all keys. Steady airflow is paramount. Even though the name implies repetitious technical study, endeavor to play them as musically as possible. Remember most music is literally composed of scales and arpeggios. The more you study scales and arpeggios the better off you will be. Much more material like these studies is available in other books such as Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies and the Allen Vizzutti Trumpet Method.
Part 3 – Music Always spend part of your practice time playing musical compositions. Keep beauty of sound and phrasing foremost in your mind. Play music you wish to play or that which you have to play for school, solo performance, ensembles or lessons. Play any style of music. Enjoy your trumpet. Be creative. Allow your personality to emerge and your uniqueness to shine.
Use the Practice Template as an organizational tool to motivate regular practice and promote efficiency. Imagine warming up with a beautiful sound, performing technical studies with imaginative phrasing and approaching your music with confidence and consistency. Think of this approach as musical cross training. You may vary the length of time in each of the 3 sections to suit your needs (but don’t short change the warm up. Think 15-20 minutes). Change the order of the smooth / long tone exercises and the technical studies if you wish. Utilize the studies that seem to work best for you. Keep in mind the concept of staying fresh and flexible while you practice. Use these ideas to be efficient and constantly improving. Relax. Play music from your heart and don’t forget to breathe!



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