Paradigm Shift

It has been some time since last I posted here, but not without good reason. At the beginning of this orchestra season a new little tyrant has entered my life, and for the purposes of this blog, has really messed with my routine. I was once told that if I was ever going to have kids I should make sure I had everything about the trumpet figured out first, but since I didn't manage that I've got to do my best to keep making progress under the new regime. I've already learned a few things.

Most fundamentally, never before has being efficient with my time been more important than it is now. There are so many new pressures on my schedule that I need to make the most of the time that I have. Even when there aren't tasks to be done, I'd rather get the same amount done in less time so I can play with the baby more. If I practiced in my undergrad with the efficiency I've found in the last month who knows how I'd sound now!

Plan as you might, all sorts of non-optional interruptions are going to happen, some just for a minute and some for hours. Understanding my routine and fundamentals lets me divide things up as I need, to be able to feel confident about my practicing even if I can only catch short bursts throughout the day. If I have break up my first session of the day even into four small sessions, I know that I've covered all my bases.

Like it or not, the practice mute is an important tool. I saw this coming, and spent some time this past summer working out exactly where the line was between things that can and can't be effectively achieved when using a practice mute. For me, my basic routine is all doable, as is much additional technical work, note-learning, and endurance-specific practicing. Some things just aren't smart to try, like working on anything relating to sound or style. The piccolo trumpet practice mute that I got for a performance of George Benjamin's piece At First Light in my undergrad has come in very handy, too. 

On the rare occasion when both absolute silence is necessary and I don't need to sleep or deal with a non-practicing issue, I've been looking ahead and writing out practice etudes for myself, something I've done for many years to address specifically challenging passages. Not only do etudes like this provide a great way of wrapping my head around the challenges of a given passage, but they make the actual practicing so amazingly efficient that I really should do a lot more of this sort of thing.

I'd probably write more here, but the boss awakens and I'll gladly attend to him. Maybe he'll teach me brevity, among other things.