Consistent Progress

Term Four Fitness Challenge Review – Week 8.

Week 8, the final week of students being at school. While many people would think that this would mean teachers are currently thinking of school holidays and some downtime over the Christmas period, they’d be surprised to find the number of tasks still needing to get done including: marking and finalising marks for reports, course preparation for 2018, professional development planning, ensemble preparation and event organisation. Usually in the past my exercise regime falls by the wayside in these stressful times, I have a habit of getting on tracked and neglecting other important areas of my life.

I have kept to my traditional routine of cardio-vascular sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with weights sessions on Tuesday and Thursday.

My cardio sessions showed a lot of improvement, which I am delighted in. Each day consisted of me spending 15 minutes on the bike, the resistance was still quite low at 5, but I managed to get the RPM consistently between 90 – 100. This meant that I not only got a good warm up but felt breathless at the end of it. I managed to introduce the ergo this week, 5 minutes of intensity with eh resistance on the highest possible , 10. I managed to keep my stroke rate above 30, usually 32 strokes per minute and completed 500 metres in between 2 – 2minutes and 10 seconds. The cardio session finished with a 10 minute run at 10km/h, my highest setting since starting the challenge.

The good results seemed to have continued with the weights sessions. I managed to get the 10kg dumbbells on both days (first time for that!) and used them for a number of exercises including, shoulder fly, bicep curls and tricep extensions. I pushed myself for the bench and shoulder press, using the 15kg dumbbells on Tuesday before bumping up to the 17.5kg on the Thursday. I managed to complete the 12 repetitions on each exercise, there was considerable burn and fatigue on the Thursday session with the 17.5kgs for the shoulder presses.

Overall, I am really happy with the progress made during the week. My attention now turns to this coming week. It will be a challenging one due to the change of routine. The students have left school, I still have Professional Development throughout the week, but as most people know, any change of routine can have a negative effect if one is not diligent.

Here’s to a week of due diligence and discipline!

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Trumpet Challenge Week 37

Trumpet Challenge Week 37 – Five Days and some Progress.

Despite a slow start to the week I managed to get in my target of five days practice, some thing that I am definitely please about considering my track record over the past few weeks! Being totally honest, I was a little worried at the beginning of the week, not having practiced on Monday that I would struggle, the pressures of work and meeting reporting deadlines with my marking had the potential to take a lot of my time away from the challenge. I guess that this proved to be a real life challenge that a lot of my students face every day, conflicting time commitments. I successfully managed to navigate this though throughout the entire week, something that I have not always managed to achieve!

My focus for this week’s sessions has still been on my range and trying to improve the consistency of pitching, intonation and just being able to play the higher notes with ease (C#, D, Eb, E and F). I would like to push this range up to my G above the staff, I do think that I’m a little way off achieving this goal though!

My long notes and lip slurs practice was a lot more consistent throughout the week, something that I am quite happy about! I am finding that there’s still a lot of work needed on improving my embouchure and preparing for the notes prior to playing. It has made me think back to the brass workshop I attended earlier in the year with the Principal Horn of the Berliner Philharmonica, he placed a lot of importance in air flow and preparing positioning of embouchure for the higher notes rather than the lower notes. There were some sessions that some of the higher slurs took a little longer to perfect, but overall they were an improvement.

As previously mentioned, my main focus this week is on improving range. I need to strengthen the higher notes and be able to play them consistently. I decided to incorporate a new range exercise for this week which I feel has helped. I started on my 5th of each position (e.g. G in the open position) and moved to the note above on the same valve (e.g. C in open position) and back to the 5th before moving down to the tonic, back to the fifth, resolving to the tonic. I did this tonguing, every valve position. This was then repeated starting on the tonic up the octave (e.g. C in space open position) with a movement up to the 3rd (e.g. E in space open position). My eventual aim is to continue to increase the overall range as my lips get more comfortable.

My session continued with major scales and arpeggios in all twelve keys. As I am getting increasingly comfortable with these, I decided to include playing the scales in thirds. This was quite a challenging undertaking and will definitely need more attention over the next few weeks.

One element of my sessions that did not receive as much attention this week was the Accent on Achievement work. I continued to play through the exercise on Pages 42 and 43, alternating odds and evens. I did not spend much time working on American Patrol, I feel that the range issue I am having will be corrected through my technical exercises, until they get stronger there isn’t much benefit in repeating the same errors every session.

This coming week will be an interesting one with many challenges. I haven’t gotten to practice on Saturday (today) as I have been at school doing testing. There are no students at school in the coming week, this means the discipline of doing what is required with a change in everyday routine kicks in.

 

I am looking forward to the challenge!!!

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Trumpet Challenge Week 36

Trumpet Challenge Week 36 – High Note Frustration.

There were many positives to come out of this week’s practice; I managed to get four of my expected five practices in (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday); my tone is improving in the lower to middle range; the strength and consistency of lip slurs is improving. However, there are still some of my on going problems that are proving a continual challenge, specifically my range and the consistency of notes from my C in the third space moving up to the F on the top line. I’d like to say that my ability to play these notes is improving, but it’s just not, I have stagnated on them and it really depends not just on the day, but the time of practice as to how success I am with these.

One of the ways that I have been working on developing these notes is through a new technical exercise. I am staying in the same position and moving (with tonguing) up and down the selected notes. I am starting on an open G, moving to an open C, back to open G and down to open C. I will repeat this starting on F#, F, E, D#, D and C#. I am then moving back to open C (third space) and repeating the process, the first interval moving up to my E in the fourth space. I am hoping that by committing to this over the next few weeks I might see the growth and development I need in my playing.

My ability to play my scales and arpeggios has not progressed further, especially the range for my C#, D, Eb, E and F Major. I am still finding that at times I don’t concentrate fully and, as a result, make some silly errors with finger positions, this is something that I’ll continue to try and work on in the coming week.

I have continued to work not he technical work from Pages 42 and 43, alternating between odd and even numbers. This seems to bed working effectively in developing a consistent tone. Some errors are happening in the latter exercises where the range is larger, again I hope that this will naturally improve as I work on the various technical exercises.

I am hoping in this coming week to be able to get back to my five days practice, it has started well with me getting my Saturday done and dusted. Other goals for this week that I would like to achieve include discussion my range issues with one of the trumpet teachers at school (there might something to correct about my embouchure) and getting to the music shop to purchase some new books.

Let’s see if I can achieve these three simple goals for Week 36! Making my goals small and achievable always seems to be beneficial to my personal growth and development.

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Inconsistent Posting Doesn’t Mean Inconsistent Sessions

Term Four Fitness Challenge Review – Week 7.

I have had an interesting few weeks regarding my fitness challenge for this term. Interesting not because of a lack of motivation or commitment to actually getting to the gym, in fact I’ve been quite impressed with my consistency, but rather that I have struggled to find the time to write an extensive review of each week’s session with any level of accuracy. I think that the reason behind this is because I have been leaving it until the end of the week to start it, making the task seem much larger than it needs to be. One way that I have considered combatting this is by writing a short reflection each day adding it to the larger post. The habit could tie in with my Trumpet Challenge posting, basically finish the practice session and then spend five minutes writing on each. We’ll wait and see whether I can commit to this throughout this week!

One thing that I do wan tot be clear on though, I have been doing great at getting tot he gym and putting in hard yards consistently.

To recap the last two weeks:

Week 5.

I managed to get all five session complete this week. I am pretty stoked that this was the case. All sessions went well, being able to stretch and push myself that little bit further.

Week 6.

I only managed four session during this week, I missed Friday. The reason behind missing Friday’s session was a bout of food poisoning that I cam down with on Thursday  at around 7:45am. Whilst I was over the symptoms but Friday morning I decided to take a day off to recover as I hadn’t eaten anything since Wednesday evening.

Week 7

Monday – Cardio.

This session went reasonably well. I was a little late to the gym which resulted in me cutting the session short. I only managed 15 minutes on the cycle before heading into school as my right calf has been quite tight and I don’t want to pull anything. Hopefully this will take care of itself throughout the next few days so I can pick up intensity again.

Tuesday – Free Weights.

I managed to hit the gym for a productive free-weights session on the Tuesday morning. I was a little concerned with how this session would go, largely due to waking up a little later than usual. I’m finding that it’s a little more challenging for me to get out of bed with it now being in Week 7 of the school term (energy levels are a little low).

I arrived at the gym just after 6:00am and hit my first snag, I thought there wasn’t a spare bench. After doing some looking I did managed to find one and moved it into position between two other benches, hopefully the other gym members didn’t mind as I encroached on their space a little.

My next problem, no weights between 9 and 15 kg…time to be creative! I used this as an opportunity to increase the dumb-bells being used for my bench and shoulder press by moving up to the 15 kg. his additional resistance was countered by use of 8kg dumbbells for flys, bicep curls and tricep extensions. The shoulder presses were probably the most exerting, especially the last two on each set, I did manage to complete my three sets of twelve so I am satisfied overall.

Wednesday – Cardio.

I had a great Cardio session on Wednesday morning. I arrived at the gym just after 6:00am again, the struggle to get out of bed continued. I made a conscious decision to push myself this morning both on the bike and the run afterwards. I managed to elevate the RPM on the cycle to an average of 95, which I was happy with. The run started at 8.5km/h before moving up to 9km/h, 9.5km/h and, finally, 10km/h in 2 minute intervals.

My legs felt fatigued at the end, but it was a good feeling!

Thursday – Free Weights.

I mangled to replicate the Tuesday sessions except for one small detail, the 10kg dumb-bells were also free. I am excited that I got out all of my sets with the 15km / 10kg dumb-bell combination. There was a little bit of struggle at the end of each set so I feel that I’m at about the right level of resistance for now. Looking forward to being able to push the further in the coming weeks!

Friday – Cardio.

This was my latest start to the week – I got on the bike at 6:15am which is very disappointing. I pushed myself hard through the 15 minutes and then had a choice, do I leave to get to school at my usual time or do I run? I compromised and ran for 5 minutes on the treadmill, but this time straight onto the 10km/h. I would have liked to have gotten the 10 minutes in but knew I was strapped for time to fit in all the commitments I had before my full day school meeting was beginning.

Reflection.

I’m happy with the progress made this week. My biggest downfall is still the going to bed at a decent hour. Hopefully I can work not his in the coming week and keep pushing to reach new levels and achievements!

 

 

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Trumpet Challenge Week 35

Trumpet Challenge Week 35 – A Wasted Week.

The past week has been nothing short of disappointing, a missed opportunity, to put it bluntly, a waster week. After all of the good work that I have achieved in setting up a good routine, committing to regular practice and seeing growth and development I hit a week with virtually no practice sessions at all. The only time I managed is a twelve minute session on the Saturday at the beginning of the week.

Looking back on the week and what could have possibly caused this slump, I can’t really put my finger on it accurately. I have been busy at school, but no busier than usual…I just haven’t gotten into eh practice room first thing in the morning. I did get a bout of food poisoning which knocked me out for a couple of days, but apart from this there’s really no excuses.

This next week is going to be busier at school, there’s only a couple of weeks left and I have a lot that needs doing regarding reporting and preparation for next year. Hopefully I can make a conscious effort and turn around this poor week, make it an aberration and not a new habit!

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Trumpet Challenge Week 34

Trumpet Challenge Week 34 – Four is the New Five.

It has been an “interesting” week of practice for the Trumpet Challenge. I have managed to complete four sessions for a second week in a row, a positive is that all the sessions were quite strong in their consistency and length. On the side of needing to improve I need to get my sessions back to the five day mark that I set for the challenge and also improve my range, I am still struggling to find consistency in notes D, Eb, E and F. As this post marks the beginning of my 34th week in the challenge I am hoping that I’ll be able to report some positives on both of these fronts come the beginning Week 35.

Wednesday Morning.

It’s been a late start to the week’s practice regime this week, which is disappointing. I didn’t manage to get in a before school session on either Monday or Tuesday due to various school events (meeting on Monday and setup for my school band’s Melbourne Cup gig on Tuesday).

Despite this, the session went reasonably well with my long notes and slips having good consistency in tone and pitch through to my High D. I managed to play my scales quite well with only a few slips up on my F# and Ab Major Scales, I’m still getting confused with some of the fingerings, especially when descending. One big positive to come out of today’s practice was my ability to play the full range of my F Major scale and arpeggio. The top E and F were thin, but they were definitely there! I also managed to push higher with long notes, getting a thin F# and G out of my trumpet.

I continued with my repertoire routine, focusing on the technical exercises on pages 42 & 43 of Accent on Achievement. There’s progress in the tone development and ability to lip slur between notes in the context of a song. I am mismatching some of the exercises, especially in Number 8 where I continue to not resolve the exercise to an F, hitting a Bb instead.

Thursday Morning.

I have managed to complete the second session for the week. There have been a number of positives out of this session as well. It was consistent with my Wednesday one in the long notes, scales and arpeggios although the range wasn’t quite there.

I made the decision to change my approach to repertoire yet again, I am really keen to nail this version of “American Patrol’ but am continuing to struggle with lip fatigue through playing. I have reduced the number of technical exercises, only playing five of the ten, to try and give myself an opportunity to play American Patrol before my lips are too fatigued. This seems to have been a good idea as I did manage to play more of the song, the latter parts still need more attention.

Friday Morning.

I had a lot of other things on my mind of various tasks that I needed get done when I went into my Friday session, not the ideal place to practice from! I did manage to get a reasonably good twenty minute practice in, something that I really shouldn’t sneeze at!

My long notes, scales and arpeggios were a mirror of the Thursday results. I did try something sightly different today though, adding in my lowest lip slur positions as well (F#-C#; G – D; Ab – Eb; A – E; Bb – F).

There were not really any changes in my repertoire ability to Thursday’s session. I think I may need to look into getting that new book and just pushing ahead to really help continue to develop my playing.

Saturday Morning.

I ended up being a little strapped for time for this morning’s practice session. Usually I jump straight into it after one of my students’ lessons in the half an hour break that I have. I didn’t do that this morning as I had a larger break and I got some sax practice done first. By the time I finished the sax practice I only had about 15 minutes to spend on the trumpet.

The quality of the practice was no where near as strong as my earlier week sessions, largely due to the sax practice tiring out my lips. It was, however, much better than the previous times I’ve played my sax right before practice sessions.

Moving Forward.

I would really like to get back to the five days a week quota of practice days. The length of most of my sessions has been good, just that extra one would be nice. I think I’d like to try to get the new book for me to continue to progress during this week. I’ll keep working on American Patrol, but some new repertoire would probably prove beneficial.

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Back on Track

Term Four Fitness Challenge Review – Week 4.

After the disappointment that I experienced in my Fitness Challenge last week through missing a day on Friday. I was determined to make this coming week one of success, setting a consistent routine of 5 days and hopefully setting some new PBs since starting this challenge.

Monday- Cardio Vascular.

The week started with my cardio session. I was keen to get in a good session but got to the gym slightly later than usual (approximately 6:00am). I managed to jump on the bike and complete 15 minutes with the RPM at approximately 90 and a resistance level of 5. Whilst I am relatively happy with this I’d like to look at either increasing the RPM, the resistance or both.

I then continued my session on the treadmill with a 10 minute run. I wanted to try to continue to build on the work done in previous weeks by increasing the speed, I managed to keep it at 8.5km/h for the entire run. Ideally, this will be increased closer to the 10km/h over the course of this week.

Tuesday – Weights.

My weights session went quite well for my Tuesday session. I managed to get a bench relatively easily and also got both he 12.5kg and 10 kg dumb bells (which is a difficult feat). I completed my 3 x 12 rep sets on bench press, shoulder press, shoulder fly and bicep curls before changing to the 9kg dumb bells for the tricep extensions. I am still cautious of the pain in my right shoulder when I lift the dumb bell into position for the tricep extension. I have found that supporting the shoulder with my left hand has assisted in this.

 

Wednesday – Cardio Vascular.

I managed to get up and to the gym in excellent time this morning, by 5:50am. This was really important for today’s session as it is my earlier start at school with a 7:00am for a big band rehearsal. I completed a session similar to my Monday one, unfortunately there were no gains in my cycling there were, however, gains in the run with me increasing the speed to 9km/h. Whilst this does not seem like a significant increase it has had a positive effect on the outlook of the challenge…maybe I am starting to get a little fitter.

Thursday – Weights.

My weights session went quite well this morning. Unfortunately there were some hiccups with the weights available as I could only get the 12.5kg and 8 kg dumb-bell sets. I managed to compete all of my routine quite easily as a result of this reduced weight. I tried to counter this through increasing the intensity and reducing rest times between each set. It serves me right for getting to the gym a little later than usual! There’s a huge difference between 5:50 and 6:00am.

Friday – Cardio Vascular.

I have managed it, five sessions in the week!

It feels really good to have completed another full week of the challenge and gotten things back on track. I completed a cardio session identical to my previous ones for the week. I am a little disappointed that I haven’t gone the extra mile and completed any ergo sessions, perhaps that’s something that I can add into Week 5 a little more consistently.

Other work that would be nice to start adding in is some work on my abs, perhaps a different exercise each day to keep it interesting as I do find abs the most boring to work and commit to.

Week in Review.

I am absolutely wrapped to be able to say I completed my five sessions. There’s some improvement in the quality of sessions that I can address as I head into Week 5, especially the cardio through adding in the ergo for five minutes and an abs routine for each day. I might look at varying the abs routine to keep it interesting (Sit-ups and planks one day; obliques and extensions alternate).

The other area I still need to work on is my diet. Whilst I have worked own reducing the amount of snacks and am no longer eating many chips (crisps) I still am finding I am eating a little too much chocolate. I guess more self control is needed when I go to the shops to buy berries and mangos as a snack for the evening!

On a positive note, I have increased my water intake each day. I will try to keep at the 2 – 3 litres in the coming week.

 

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Trumpet Challenge Week 33

Trumpet Challenge Week 33 – A Slow Start

This last week has definitely been an interesting one from a practice perspective. The week started exceptionally slow, I didn’t get my usually practice in on Saturday due to  a school function or even on Monday morning (I got to school late). This meant that my first session was on Tuesday morning before my first student.

The interesting occurrence for the week is that I then managed to rack up rehearsal sessions on Wednesday (I usually don’t), Thursday and Friday meaning I managed to get four in for the week.

I have continued to encounter problems with some of my higher notes, to counter this I have started working on a slightly different embouchure, more focus on the positioning of the top lip in the mouthpiece cup. We’ll wait and see how the change goes over the next few weeks, so far I’m feeling confident.

Tuesday Morning.

I managed to get in approximately 20 minutes worth of practice before my first Clarinet student for the day. I continued the focus on long notes, lip slurs and scales in all twelve keys before playing through some of the additional exercises in the back of Accent on Achievement Book One (Pages 42 & 43).

As with my previous week, the higher notes caused me some difficulty, especially from the lip slur between F-Bb and higher on the instrument. I am trying to adjust the embouchure to accommodate the different ranges, this is still proving inconsistent. I also have made a conscious effort to play all valve positions for my lip slurs. I started with the open C – G then each time I got back to the open position I would make sure my next position would be all three valves closed. I am hoping that this focus will assist in the upper range later on.

My scales are staying rather consistent. The higher position ones (Eb, E and F Major) are still causing a lot of trouble. My C# and D Major are slowly getting more consistent.

I didn’t get a lot of time in Accent on Achievement, managing only the first five exercises and these were quite rough.

Wednesday Morning

I agreed to see one of the young trumpeters who is auditioning for our Intermediate Concert Band for an additional lesson to assist with his audition that is occurring next week. I managed to get into the tutorial room 15 minutes prior to his lesson time to do a warmup which consisted of long notes and lip slurs.

Once the lesson commenced we worked solely on the audition piece. It was interesting watching this young man’s embouchure, particularly in the upper range. I noticed that he is putting a considerable amount more top lip into the mouthpiece cup than I currently am.

I think that I will try to apply this positioning to my own playing over the coming weeks to see if it assists in my higher notes.

Thursday Morning.

I managed another 15 – 20 minutes practice before my first Saxophone student. The session mirrored my Tuesday session although I did try to use the different embouchure that I observed yesterday. Some more time is going to be needed to get my lips used to this position as it still isn’t in my muscle memory.

Friday Morning.

Friday mornings have been a successful session for me over the past few weeks, coming in around the 30 minute mark with a lot of improvement each time. This session was no exception.

My lips felt more comfortable in the new position and some of the higher notes managed to come out easier in the lip slurs, long notes and scales.

My repertoire was also a lot stronger, getting through the entire ten additional exercises. I slowed down the tempo to really work on accuracy and whilst there is still some work to do on the lip slurring exercises in the book, I am happy with where everything was.

I also managed to give some time to the repertoire that I have struggled with from earlier in the book. I managed to play Pomp and Circumstance perfectly, including the movement from an A to a D, this means I have marked it off as complete. “American Patrol” still needs more attention, hopefully in the next week it will be done.

Saturday Morning.

I have managed to complete another good twenty minute session today between two of my private students. The work from yesterday has really managed to be consolidated and I even managed to get out a High F with some reasonable tone while playing the F Major Scale. I think the new embouchure is working.

Moving Forward.

I am hoping to have another consistent week of practice. Now that I have proven it is possible to find time on a Wednesday I will endeavour to do every week day onto of the Saturday, meaning six sessions for the week. Hopefully by next Saturday American Patrol will be done and dusted!

 

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A Slight Hiccup

Term Four Fitness Challenge Review – Week 3.

Week Three was proving to be another strong week. I really was feeling that a good routine had been setup, I was feeling fresh, enthusiastic and really keen to not miss a day and I didn’t, until Friday.

A slight hiccup occurred, certain circumstances outside of my control lead to me having to miss my early morning Friday session. I had then planned to go for a run during one of my breaks at school, unfortunately, again, due to circumstances outside my control this could not happen either.

Monday – Cardio-Vascular.

I am aware that in a lot of ways Mondays are the hardest session in the week to commit to. I also believe that they are the most important. I always find it difficult to get out of bed after the weekend, I love my job but it’s the longest point until another break making the motivation at times not high. I have also found that if I commit to Monday the other sessions become easier during the week. Similarly, the intensity of my Monday training also sets the intensity for the week. It is my thermostat day so to speak.

I arrived at the gym a little later this morning, I didn’t get out of bed until 5:40am rather than the 5:20am. More attention is going to be needed to be given to my alarm and getting up straight away, no more snoozes!

Despite this slightly later start I did manage to do the same routine as on Friday last week; 15 minutes cycle; 5 minutes ergo; 10 minutes run. No world records were set today but the intensity was good and I headed off to school and my trumpet challenge practice feeling that the week had started as positively as I possibly could.

Tuesday – Weights Session.

For the second day in a row I arrived a little later at the gym, these bed times need to improve! This caused some problems with the weights I had available and also getting bench to work with – 10 minutes makes a huge difference!

Luckily, I noticed a bench under the Smith’s Machine, I grabbed it and repositioned for use with the free weights. The only weights I could get today were the 12.5kg and 8 kg weights which cause a few issues for some of the exercises. I managed to complete the chest and shoulder press with the 12.5kg but had to use the 8 kg weights for the other exercises. To ensure an intense workout, I worked muscle groups in pairs through alternating exercises with little break between. Bench press worked with should fly; Shoulder Press with Bicep Curls; Triceps at end. I wanted to do my lat pulldown again but the machines were busy so I headed to the abs area to complete a series of setups.

Wednesday – Cardio Vascular.

A disappointing session due to sleeping in. I managed to only get out the 15 minute in the bike before having to shower and change for school’s 7:00am rehearsal.

Thursday – Free Weights.

Today was a better session, largely due to getting up on time and to the gym to start before 6:00am . I managed to get the weights I needed for the workout being the 12.5kg and 10kg dumb-bells and worked on the muscle groups in the same combination as Tuesday’s session. I swapped the heavier dumbbells for 9kg weights for the triceps, I’d like to try the 10kg but am cautious as I do not want to re-injured my shoulder while lifting the weight into position.

Friday – Cardio Vascular.

I had intended to complete a hard cardio session this morning. Unfortunately, the best made plans can be turned on their head very quickly. Some family difficulties arose which resulted in em not leaving the house until later 7:00am. Rather than miss my Trumpet Challenge practice I decided that I could probably get a run in on campus grounds during one of my breaks (during the last two periods of the day). This didn’t eventuate due to being allocated a relief class at that time.

Weekly Reflections.

I am again happy with the progress made during the week. Of course, there is some disappointment about Friday’s missed day, but sometimes these things can’t be helped and one of the things I am truly focusing on in life is omg;y worrying about the things in your power to change or effect. There’s no pint losing positivity or energy over decision or factors that aren’t your to control (easier said then done).

I have eaten a little more junk food than I wanted this week, something I will try and rectify in the coming week.

I am really looking forward to next week’s sessions and, hopefully, getting back to the full five days.

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Trumpet Challenge Week 32

Trumpet Challenge Week 32 – The Challenges Continue…

This past week has been another one of immense frustration and difficulty. The frustration has not necessarily been regarding the number of sessions I managed to get in, but rather the quality of practice to the extent that I made a conscious decision to change my routine and focus on the final day of practice for the week (Friday).

I continued with my routine of warm-up exercises followed by repertoire. As discussed in previous posts, my biggest challenge since beginning back this term has been the consistency of embouchure to accurately play the higher notes in my range. The embouchure for my reed playing is causing havoc with my beginner trumpet chops – it’s a continual struggle for me to overcome this.

A positive out of this week’s practices is that I did get on my trumpet on five days, something that I am really proud of. Some of those sessions were not very long (some only five – eight minutes in length). This meant that I needed to do additional focus on my long notes and warm up exercises.

The sessions later in the week (Thursday and Friday) I did manage to have a break through, largely due to a change in my routine. I had been reflecting on my repertoire section of practice and why all of a sudden I was struggling to play some of the pieces and the answer hit me, I am not warm enough. Despite all of the long notes and scales that I have done my chops weren’t ready for pieces, especially Pomp and Circumstance and American Patrol and the interval leaps up to my high D.

I made the decision to leave these pieces and focus on the additional technical exercises provided int he back of the book. These I have found challenging but there seems to be improvement in my ability to move around the instrument and play own the higher register towards the end of my phrases.

In the coming week I will continue this routine to try to work on improving my endurance further. I am still hopeful of getting the final two songs complete to a satisfactory standard before the end of this term.

Time will tell whether I manage to meet this goal.

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