To Grind or not to Grind

Routines can be something that we love and hate. Do we need to do them? What kinds of things need to get touched? What’s the most important thing to focus on?

Does anyone actually know anything about this damn instrument?

What I do know is this; a daily routine is an excellent way to develop your coordination as a trumpet player. Better coordination equals greater efficiency. Greater efficiency equals improved range and endurance. Since range and endurance are critical for the jazz lead player, a daily routine is a worthwhile idea.

So a typical routine consists of a few basic exercises performed with variety but more or less the same way every day. Examples of said exercises include slurs, scales, long-tones, articulation stuff…you get the idea.

I have gotten into the hate side of routines by doing one thing; pushing every single drill to the outer limits of my range. IMHO, this sucks! The reason I was doing this was based on the fear that if I wasn’t practicing EVERYTHING super high than I would never get great chops.

This is a false precept.

If our goal is greater efficiency than it behooves us to take the time to go back and correct inefficiencies as they arise rather than continue to push range.

Look, I have gotten results from expanding scales or slurs to the upper extremities and you will too. I am simply saying that if you do this all the time it’s a real drag. Don’t forget that we have to be more or less FRESH to make strength gains and for our musicality to come through on a gig or rehearsal.

Try this; next time you are working on your lip slurs and you get to a range where your throat or oral cavity wants to tighten up STOP and REST. After a few minutes come back and try again keeping in mind you want to remain open. If you are still tight, STOP and REST before trying again. If after the rest you’re able to now play it open and free as a bird than good job. You are done with this for the day. Commit to making tiny changes in the right direction every day.

Keeping yourself fresh and feeling good about practice will guarantee results DAILY. Look, fatigue is neither good nor bad, I’m simply suggesting you learn for yourself that you don’t need very much of it to improve your playing.

If you are working on ear training every day your body will take the coordination learned in practice and apply it to the extremities of your horn in surprising ways.

Test you mettle on the gig, not in the practice room.

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