Is it ok to practice on an instrument that is not your normal instrument.

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Phil3822, May 29, 2015.

  1. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    Hi all, rubbish title and equally not a great question but here goes...

    I am having to work away pretty often at present and I am wondering if I get a plastic or pocket trumpet would this be ok to practice on. I play the cornet in brass bands and play trumpet on occasion in a community orchestra however want something small and or light to practice while away which is not one of my regular heavy expensive instruments.

    I have recently had a play on a plastic tromba trumpet and it required a different play style but the principles were the same. I wondered if practicing on one of these would be a good thing or not. I am not confident that practicing on an instrument which I don't normally play on is a good thing.

    I know I am rambling on but hope you get the idea of what I am asking. Thanks all.
  2. Cornet Nev.

    Cornet Nev. Member

    For my two pence worth, if worth even that. I would suggest that if all you wish is to basically keep your lip in and nothing much more, perhaps that would fine.
    However if wanting to actually try to improve your playing while away from home and not on your regular instrument, I can see many pitfalls. You may well find a better way of doing something, you may well be able to refine something you are already doing, however when that is then tried to superimpose onto your normal instrument it may not be as good as you hoped or even a disaster. You have already realised that there are differences between the instruments and it is in that area that I would be concerned.
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
  3. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    Exactly my concerns thanks Nev, and I would be looking for more than keeping the lip in. I have plenty more practice to and improvement to do. Appreciate your response.
  4. Cornet Nev.

    Cornet Nev. Member

    As a collector of some various and sometimes odd brass instruments I found very early that playing one was different to another. Once I could afford to do so I bought a Besson Sovereign as my main instrument for band. Yet for some strange reason the nearest to it for playing and handling was a fairly knocked about mid range Bach cornet, so that one which had been the main instrument any way till I got the Besson, I knew I could practice with either. However, an odd deal which bought an old Chinese Lark, another that got me a Czechoslovakian Corton, No way could I be realistic at practising on those, though the Corton was and still is a nice enough instrument. Similar for the Yamaha trumpet, a lot different to the others.
  5. Slide-o-Maniac

    Slide-o-Maniac New Member

    Hi. I'm a trombonist, but for what it's worth... here goes.

    If you're practising valve changes to get finger muscle memory right, then yes, use the plastic.

    If you are trying to keep your lip in shape, just buzz on your normal mouthpiece.

    Either way, use your normal mouthpiece.

    That is all. Hope it helps!

  6. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    Broadly speaking any practice is better than none.
    If you are regularly using different instruments you should find that you adapt to the changes quite easily.
  7. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I'm a slide rather than valve user but my experience might still help. For some jobs, where I think my trombone might be at risk of damage, I use an older cheaper instrument than the one I normally use. The two different trombones play/respond slightly differently but for the purposes of the performance the rough one does the job.

    In terms of practice the old instrument still allows me to work on pitch, rhythm, articulation, dynamics and all that good stuff. It might not have the same intonation and richness of sound as my regular trombone - which deserves a better player than me - but it's miles better than not practicing at all.

    Bottom line. I'd happily use a plastic trombone to practice on and believe well made plastic trumpets and cornets are worthwhile practice instruments too, however if weight and fragility wasn't an issue I'd look for a cheap brass instrument before a plastic one as the're more versatile.

    One question. If you are working away from home do you need to consider the sound volume generated by your practice and use of a practice mute?
  8. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    2nd tenor likes this.
  9. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    I do quite a lot of foreign travel and cover it using a little bit of mouthpiece buzzing (in order to keep my ability to form an embouchure) combined with lots of isometric exercises to keep the corners of my lips tight (have a look online for "pencil exercise for trumpet").

    Many years ago I did carry either an old cornet or a pocket trumpet - often wrapped in clothes in the middle of my suitcase. However, the changes to airline allowances and general hassle has put me off doing this. I suppose the advantage is you can maybe get some playing opportunities if you take an instrument with you.

    Maybe what it boils down to is what type of embouchure you have and how much maintenance it requires.
  10. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Is buzzing really useful?

  11. marksmith

    marksmith Active Member

    On this subject, from a different perspective.
    As a 'section leader' (euphs/baris), I have often been frustrated by our ability to remain in tune, as a section.
    Usual forms of advice given and taken, which in short-term, works ok.
    However, when you have players who do not play continually on their principal instrument, their lip control seems to suffer significantly.
    These also seem to be the players who 'know better' and little care about the effect on the section, let alone the band.
    When this is discussed in-house, it never fails to stir emotion, usually to the detriment of those of us that do care!
    I am not a pedant but do expect a team, to mean just that.
    Euph one rehearsal, cornet the next, is the one of the extremes that I have experienced in recent years.
    How can anyone fit in with a well practiced section in that circumstance?
    I was still chastised for having the audacity to question it with the player concerned.
    We were crucified at our next contest for tuning/ intonation problems in the middle of the band!!
    It all depends on your own perspective, doesn't it?
  12. GordonH

    GordonH Member

    One way to improve intonation is playing on the mouthpiece alone, but adding an equivalent resistance to that of your instrument. Most players can not play a tune - in tune - on their mouthpiece. Often they play the notes closer together than they should be. I believe in the adage that "your instrument is your mouthpiece" and getting that bit right is more than half the battle.

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