March 2015 Practice Update: Bright Spots, Video and Full Free eBook Chapter!

Hello dearest readers and loyal fans,

It’s me, your fearless writer, James.

Let’s start by giving a shout-out to Jason Levi. Jason plays the trumpet (quite well I might add) and he left this comment in a recent post:

“I would like to know what you are doing to fill 4 HOURS of time. I feel mentally exhausted and have improved and spinning my wheels after one hour usually. Also, how much of that is rest? resting time= playing time?”

Here is a brief video answering those questions.

Now let’s take a look at what’s working, and how we can do more of it:

  • Five Minute Practice! OK this is the same as last month but why wouldn’t we want to do more of what works? Practicing some aspect of music that you want to improve for five minutes a day, while cycling through new materials, is easy and works like a charm. Currently I use this approach on single tongue, multiple tongue and lip slurs. I’m going to add a five minute sight-reading block to the practice plan starting today. Essentially, I read music, rubato, in my head, by hearing the intervals from one note to the next. Kind of like silently reading the newspaper. If I can only hear 2 or 3 notes in that five minute time block, so be it.
  • A 100 Day Challenge! The 100 day challenge is basically this – give yourself an easy daily assignment and complete it for 100 consecutive days. If you miss a day, you have to start over at the beginning. It’s an awesome way to create habits and keep them for a lifetime. My first 100 day challenge was to floss every day and now I love flossing. I do it for fun when I’m bored. Another reason the 100 day challenge is so great is because once you complete a 100 day block, you can add something completely new and totally transform your daily existence. My first trumpet-related 100 day challenge is to lip buzz three notes per day. I’m on day 17 and I really want you to start your own challenge NOW.
  • Practice In All Keys! No matter who you are, or what kind of music you play, if you want to do yourself a huge favor, start shedding anything and everything in all keys. You do not need to master each key up to tempo. Just playing easy melodies through the context of the different keys will really open you up. Currently I’m playing through heads and improvising over tunes in all 12. I do it out-of-time, but keep the form in my head (so completely rubato but still only eight 8th notes per bar).

NOTE: The whole point of all this increasing practice time nonsense is that I am getting my jazz playing together. The funny thing is that only AFTER eight years of college (jazz college btw) did I muster up the courage to sit down and suck at something every day. I am passionate about this and will sharing what has worked well for me as a jazz improviser, and how it has affected my overall playing in the upcoming posts.

eBook TEASER!!!

It’s happening! The contents of “Blackwell’s Trumpet Basics the eBook” (working title) are complete! I currently have the manuscript out to a number of trusted musical colleagues and will be distributing world-wide in a few short weeks. I am SUPER excited about this! Please take a moment to check out the table of contents  and one of the complete chapters!!! PS. This is a NEW table of Contents – in case you checked out the old one.

Table of Contents

Developing a Routine Teaser Chapter

Review of Practice Goal / Gig

I am on track with the yearly goal of a 4 hour daily practice average. This month I need to accumulate 3,600 minutes/60 hours (120 min x 30 days) to stay on track.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area come on out to Café Cordiale in Studio City tonight at 9 pm. The Bernie Dresel Big Band is performing and the band is smokin’!

Take Action Ye Scally-Wags!

Please leave a comment below and let us know what your 100-day challenge is. Let’s build some community around here people!!!

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