Trumpet Challenge Week 20

Trumpet Challenge Week 20 – The Continual Disappointment.

We’re now nearly half way through the challenge and I am really finding it difficult to regularly practice. I had hoped at the beginning of the year that as I got into the challenge things would get easier, that I’d find a good routine and then be able to stick at it…

SILLY ME…

Since my last post I have only picked up my trumpet probably only three times, each one at the Intermediate Band rehearsals. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s more that there’s been so many other things that I have just had to get done as a part of my everyday job…I’m barely getting any time to play my saxophone, let along the trumpet.

We’re now in Term Three, the performance term, loaded with performance after performance. The term has started out in this manner and probably won’t ease up until the end of it, actually more like half way through next term. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining as it’s why I do what I do – giving students the opportunity to perform is why I teach music, and I love that. It just means that I haven’t had much time for my own practise and development musically.

I did have to have a couple of weeks of intensive piano practise to get my accompaniment skills back up to scratch before a big Music Eisteddfod. I was accompanying a number of younger students and really wanted to get the parts right to help them as best I could, especially as for some of them it was their first public solo performance.

Hopefully in this next week everything will get into a better routine, that would mean maybe a chance to practise twice to three times a week (which would be awesome). Here’s to a better few weeks to come…on that note I’d better go and try to find my book, it’s still missing!!!

Trumpet Challenge Week 17

The trumpet challenge has taken a few hits over the past month, hence why there have not been consistent posts.

School has been frantic, there have been many events over the last four weeks of school, especially in the last two weeks of the term which has eaten up a lot of additional time. On top of this there have been additional meetings I have needed to attend, reports to write, marking to complete and job interview panels that I have had to sit on.

Away from school has been just as frantic, trying to spend time with my beautiful family (which I fail at so often), private teaching and being there to help my extended family. I have also been working hard to complete all of the assignments needed for my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (which I finally did yesterday).

I will be clear on one point, I have been playing my trumpet at least once a week, that usually has been occurring in the Intermediate Concert Band rehearsals. My personal practice has been terrible, only limited to Saturdays, and that is only if I am lucky. I currently can’t find my book, that will have to change over the next few days.

I am no closer to finding a good video player for my video evidence, this is very frustrating for me as I am keen to be able to upload all my videos to demonstrate the improvement.

As always I am open to suggestions as to the best way to achieve this goal.

I am hoping as this next term starts that I might find a little more routine and regularity in all my practice endeavours. I am hopeful but know that it will be a difficult challenge to keep up consistently.

Trumpet Challenge Week 9

Well it’s been another challenging week for consistent practice. The College Musical is in full swing and between this, teaching and wanting to see my family a little there has been limited time for everything else!

A positive note is that I got to play my trumpet once this week, boy oh boy was it average! Two weeks off has a significant impact on ones playing the trumpet both in terms of pitching, tone and endurance. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find my trumpet book that I was using so it meant a lot of warmup exercises to try and build up my chops again.

I also had a great conversation with one of the trumpeters performing in the production, trying to get some tips on improving my playing and range. He has suggested looking at doing lip slurs over my known range. This means playing a note and changing the tension of my embouchure to play a different note in the same position, the trick is to do it without tonging (slurring) and making it not break. This is a challenge I can’t to get into my routine.

Look out here I come!

Trumpet Challenge Week 8

The first week back at school and the first challenge, no practice for the entire week (including my usual Saturday time).

I find this incredibly frustrating that this has been the case but it really has been one of those things out of my control. The school week has proven chaotic between preparing work for the term, ensembles, the College Musical that I am playing in and Parent Teacher interviews, not leaving much time for anything else!

My Saturday practice time was taken up with the moving of my Music Studio location. There has been significant pack up and moving of all of my resources. I still haven’t managed to find the time set everything back up, hopefully this will be achieved before next weekend or else it might turn into another week of no practice!

Trumpet Challenge Week 7

The start of Week 7 has seen me see quite considerable improvement in my playing over the course of Week 6’s practice regime.

I didn’t get to do any practice yesterday (the end of the Week 6 cycle) due to a number of circumstances out of control. I was interested to see what the effect would be on my playing…would I be able to still hit the D on the fourth line easily or would the day off have a significant negative effect?

I started my practice in the same way that I have been in recent times with a number of warm up exercises, focusing particularly on being able to accurately pitch notes played in the same position and being able to play up at the top of the range later in my breath when my lips are fatigued.

I was pleasantly surprised with how well this went after a day off. In fact, the whole practice was quite a productive one. This does raise an interesting point that I think a lot of beginner students fall into after a while, complacency. I have had a few good weeks of practice, built up a store of muscle memory habits, this has meant that missing one day hasn’t had too much of a negative effect. However, if this became two days then I know that the effect would be greater felt, three even more so. The dangerous path that leads is that then a student cannot do the things that they used to be able, this means it has to be relearnt before they can progress which leads to frustration and desire not to practice. This not practicing leads to more frustration and eventually it ends with a student quitting. How much better it is when a student doesn’t develop those bad habits of missing days int he first place! I had better make sure that I don’t fall into the same trap as the school term commences and my time becomes a lot more limited!

Trumpet Challenge Week 6

Today marked the beginning of Week 6 of my Trumpet Challenge. Unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to get some practise in yesterday. The combination of Good Friday and little ones not feeling too well made it not possible to get away and spend the half an hour needed on the horn.

I was interested to see what effect the missed day was going to have on my playing (if any noticeable effect at all).

I decided to continue with the same warmup routine that I used during my last session, my focus still needed to be on improving the quality of my tone, the accuracy if pitching and ability to pitch higher notes towards the end of phrases.

The repertoire continues to develop, I am noticing an improvement in my ability to play the set pieces as I work through Accent on Achievement. I might spend a little time in the coming week going back and playing through songs earlier in the book in an attempt to see how much I have improved.

Tomorrow is Sunday, I won’t be practising. I am looking forward to Monday and, hopefully, continuing this recent good form of practice.

Trumpet Challenge Week 5.4

I have managed to keep to my daily practice regime for another day of these holidays, I am definitely stoked about that.

Today’s focus really has been on my ability to correctly pitch notes played in the same position, such as the C, G, C with no valves down. I am continuing to find that moving from my low C to high C (4th space) a challenge, especially when it occurs towards the end of a piece due to muscle fatigue. My intention today with the warmup exercises was to practise these leaps as long notes, do some arpeggios and various scale pattern (1 – 5 of C, D, E and F Major Scales ascending and descending before a Perfect interval jump from the tonic to the dominant). While doing this I tried to focus on both my embouchure and controlling the air flow. I have also been conscious of note applying too much pressure to my lips with the trumpet (this is a problem that many beginner players experience).

The repertoire went quite well today, I am continuing to see improvement in my pitching, especially in the lower register. There are times that I am not preparing at the beginning of the song, this results in me not effectively pitching or even getting  pleasant sound out of my trumpet.

In the coming weeks I’m going to start to look into some videos and blogs to see if there’s some advice I can try to apply to my practice to help improve the range and quality of tone.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, I want to try to get in my practice but there will be a number of church commitments so it might not happen.

Trumpet Challenge Week 5.3

Today I have managed to bring up a third day of practice in a row. This might not seem like much to many people, especially considering that music is my career, however, finding the time to regularly work on a new instrument has been an incredibly difficult task. Any success in this I see as being progress, no matter how small.

Today I started focusing on the development of my range, particularly the higher notes in pitching them accurately when my lips are fatigue from the phrase. There’s a lot of work that I will need to do on this in the coming week, hopefully with consistency in practice I’ll be able to strengthen the lips and keep the correct embouchure to maximise the air flow and buzzing technique.

I might look into some advice from trumpeters that I know and even see what resources are on-line that may prove useful in improving this technique. I do have a strong feeling that all it is going to take is me spending more time on my instrument.

I am still working on the videos and getting the practice sessions up for people to view my progress. The teething problems are continuing due to me not wanting to upload them to YouTube. I am sure that I will eventually do this but I do want to wait until I have improved a little more so that viewers can see my improvement from beginner to “just after beginner phase”.

Trumpet Challenge Week 5.2

I have managed it! Consecutive days of practice (geez I love school holidays). Today’s session went really well. I still had some mismatched notes, but no where near as many as yesterday’s. I managed to get up to my C in the 4th space today in the book and whilst there are a number of issues around tone, intonation and consistency I feel that it is heading in right direction.

One area that I will start to focus on is the pitching of notes on the same valve. I am going to start trying to regularly incorporate a couple of minutes of moving between the notes as whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and ventrally eighth notes.

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s session to see if the improvement can continue.

Trumpet Challenge Week 5.1

I’m another week into the challenge and this one I fell will prove quite interesting. I have had over a week of due to blisters on my lips, the first practice back after this was always going to be “interesting”. Who much form and ability would I have lost?

Considering I have only been working once a week in reality I wasn’t sure what the final effect would be. To my surprise the overall practice wen quite well. My cops really started to hurt by around the ten minute mark and I have had a lot of problems mis-pitching, especially the lower notes, towards the end of the practice.

I am hoping that these next two weeks will show some considerable improvement as I am in school holidays and I’m sure that there will be a lot more time to get practice in on a regular basis.

I am still recording all the session and working on finding a way to get these uploaded. As I type this I am uploading the first week’s efforts to the ftp server that I use, it seems to be a way around the 64MB limit. I do want to avoid putting these on YouTube for now, it would make it easier for em but I am still feeling quit self conscious about the way I am sounding…who know, another coulee of months and this might change!

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