July 2015 Practice Update: New Fan, Kindle, Harmonic Series Routine, and the ii-V7-I Progression


Hello fellow musicians and friends,

I Hope all is well with your lives and musical goals.

Let us begin.

New Fan!

One of my home-owner students and I installed a ceiling fan in Studio Eins! Considering it’s summer, this has made a huge difference in overall comfort.

Just a short week after installing the fan showed below, we switched it out for a bigger, 5-blade model with more wind-blowing mojo.

It’s been nice.

Concepts for the Advancing Trumpeter – Kindle Format!

I’m happy to announce that “Concepts for the Advancing Trumpeter” is now available on Amazon, and formatted for Kindle! For those of you already in possession of a pdf copy, I will send you a Kindle version this week. The kindle format will be added to the download file for those of you who plan to purchase the book from this website in the future.

We Need Reviews!

If you have already read “Concepts for the Advancing Trumpeter” please take a moment to leave a 4 or 5 star review by clicking this link —> Concepts for the Advancing Trumpeter, or the following image…


Practice Updates!

For the past 3 months I have been mostly practicing two things:

  1. A Long-tone/Lip slurs routine to master the harmonic series
  2. Improvising over the ii-V7-I chord progression using Jamey Aebersold’s Play-A-Long Series, Vol. 3, The II/V7/I Progression: The Most Important Musical Sequence in Jazz (Book & CD Set)

Harmonic Series Practice

I decided to further my knowledge and mastery of the harmonic series because I was having difficulty playing a melody that crossed a part of my range that wasn’t fluid and effortless enough. The routine I’ve been practicing is very simple and straightforward. I typically do it once a day (sometimes on gig days I don’t do the whole thing), and occasionally I’ll run the entire routine twice. I’m planning to continue practicing the routine daily, until either a) my chops become extremely bad a**, and I can effortlessly play across three octaves, or b) mid-November when I embark on a 6-7 week tour. I have decided to do this based on my previous experience practicing my single tongue for 10 months and then stopping when I went on tour, to find all that practice started “coming out” in my playing.

You can read about that here…

What I Learned from Focusing on One Skill for All (OK Most) of 2014

*Fun Fact: I have not purposefully shed my articulation since November of 2014, and all of my basic faculties are still there. Stop worrying that you’re going to “lose” something, and start practicing what you need to practice!

Ok, back to the harmonic series routine.

Investing the time, and having the patience to practice such basic drills slowly, with attention, is paying off in spades.

By practicing this basic routine (inserted below) I have learned:

  1. How to more efficiently support the tone. To get each harmonic to blow in tune you’re body support really needs to be dialed in.
  2. Greater tonal control. Aiming to match the sound of each valve combination (on the “brilliant” side) has been developing my ability vary my sound, based on musical preference and performance situation. This is good for me because I like to use the same equipment for everything.
  3. More refined Perfect Pitch. I’ve been using the piano, and occasionally I’ll hit a note and think, “wow. THAT’s what a (insert note name here) sounds like?” This proves to me that we all have internal pitch calibrations and if a note sounds “different” to you, you’re actually beginning to learn what that pitch-color sounds like.
  4. Greater physical efficiency. My gigs aren’t busting my chops as much as they used to. This is good.

Here’s the routine –> Lip Slur Routine

How to Practice the Routine

  1. Treat each note as a long tone. Hold it out and listen to it. If the note isn’t stable, don’t bother moving to the next.
  2. Take your time. It took me a month and a half of daily practice just to get the first portion of the exercises down. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Don’t cheat yourself.
  3. It also doesn’t matter what comes out the end of your bell. Seriously, who cares. You are learning. Your sound is great.
  4. Play each line three to five times, rubato.
  5. Don’t “do” – LISTEN.
  6. Rest often. It currently takes me about an hour (including rest) to get through this.

Jazz Improvisation!

So after I finish my lip slur/harmonics routine, I simply turn on the “ii-V-I in all keys” track from Play-A-Long Series, Vol. 3, The II/V7/I Progression: The Most Important Musical Sequence in Jazz (Book & CD Set) and play only that which I can hear, and comes easily to the fingers. This alone has done a TON for my improvisation and connecting my ideas to the horn.

I also started playing through a new ii-V line, rubato, just listening to the notes. There is some new harmonic vocabulary in this one for me, so I’m just playing it nice and slow, while listening to each note until it “sounds right.” Again, I’m not really over-analyzing this, and maybe practice it for 10 minutes a day. The majority of my time is spent, as mentioned, improvising easy melodies over the chord progression. Doing this is helping my facility in all keys “automatically,” and it’s a lot of fun to hear little bits over voice-leading work their way into each key.

Here’s the new line:

ii-v line 2

Psychological Pressure Valve

An easy tactic I’ve been using to help ease the anxiety of “needing to practice everything” is writing down the ideas I have, and then tossing them into a bucket. This way I can get around to the ideas later on (if I want), and there’s no fear of them running away from me. However, I suspect I won’t need to practice many of the ideas in the bucket because all of the same ideas keep coming back over and over in new ways.

However, it is nice to soothe your spirits.

Oh, BTW, it’s a pumpkin bucket.

IMG_5816 IMG_5815

What’s Next?!

Thank you for your time! If you dig this kind of thing, and would like to support Blackwell’s Trumpet Basics, do either or both of the following:

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