Limited Home Practice Time - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by m0pdq, May 9, 2008.

  1. m0pdq

    m0pdq New Member

    hi all

    did a search for this and found nothing. if it is a double post.... sorry.

    due to my work and other commitments, my home practice is limited to about 1/2 hour per week :frown:.

    as such i'd like to make the best use of this time as possible.

    what sort of thing should i be practicing ? (i am after improving my technical ability mainly).

    also, as i am a lorry driver, i take a spare mouthpiece with me in the cab to use during my breaks (i would say driving, but i doubt that would be legal !).
    other than just blowing through the mouthpiece, are there any exercises that would help me here ?

    thanks for your help folks.

  2. Al

    Al Member

    As youngsters we were told to practice at least an hour a day when we came home from school. Our teacher was a former member of the Parachute Regiment.

    He told the class that if by chance the folk in the other flats had any complaint, then tell them to come and have a word with him.

    There would be no problem....

    He assured us that it was a thousand to one that the complaining ignorant neighbour would be Airborne (A 'Para' in other words).

    Providing that you do not 'take the ****' I think you should just blow away.
  3. steve butler

    steve butler Active Member

    I'm afraid no amount of advice is going to help you improve on half an hours practice a week, if you want to improve you are going to have to find more time to practice.
    Your'e a cornet player (think what problems bass players have!), you must have loads of time in that lorry cab, if you are embarrassed then use a mute.

    Sorry Chris but in my experience there are no shortcuts, if you want to improve practice practice practice.
  4. hicks

    hicks Member

    Here's my 2p worth of advice - if you have limited practice time, you need to be very focussed. I don't believe any general advice would be of much use, but think about areas of your playing which need improvement and work on those, e.g. high/low register.
    I'd say most working people would like to have more time to practice so you're not alone. I try to do most of mine at the weekend.
  5. TubaPete

    TubaPete Member

    I'd agree with the comments about taking the cornet with you and practicing in the cab of your lorry - with a practice mute if you want to keep it quiet...

    A few general thoughts about things you can do without your instrument:

    1. 'Buzzing' for 1/2 an hour a day (doesn't all need to be in one session) can be really good to keep the lips in shape. Just like playing on your instrument, make sure you warm up carefully and cool down. Start in a comfy part of the middle register at about mp or mf and work on louder/quieter and higher/lower stuff when you've done a few minutes of easy stuff. Cool down by buzzing lower stuff at about mp or mf - you can end your cool down by buzzing low pitches without a mouthpiece!

    2. Breathing exercises can be a big help too. It's not necessarily about capacity as much as it's about control. If you walk places, how about breathing in over 6 paces, holding your breath for 6 paces then out over six paces? If this is difficult, start with 4 paces each and build it up to 6 paces over a week or two. This will be a huge help even if you just do it for 10 minutes. When you're comfy with this, try shortening the number of paces to breathe in and lengthening the number to breathe out (e.g. in over 4, hold for 6 then out over 8 paces). Be careful though - this is about breath control, not killing yourself so stop if there's any sign of pain or light-headedness.

    3. Look through the music you're trying to learn - sing it through in your head (or out loud) and move your fingers as if you're moving the valves - part of our practice is about programming the brain whcih you can do without the instrument in your hands.

    When you do have limited time to practice with your instrument:

    1. Don't take short cuts on your warm up or cool down.

    2. Plan what you want to practice before you start (e.g. this running passage or that slow lyrical melody).

    3. Identify what you want to improve (e.g. fingers and tongue are not co-ordinated, intervals between notes are not clean, slurs are lumpy).

    4. Plan how you're going to approach the things you want to practice before you start (e.g. will you slow it down, will you break it down into smaller chunks at full speed then glue them back together, do you need to practice lip flexibilities?).

    5. Set a timetable and strick to it fairly closely - if you have 30 minutes and 4 things to improve, spending 20 minutes on one of them might sometimes be the best approach but usually it isn't!

    6. Don't try to do too much all at once - you need to feel that you have made some progress, no matter how small it is, every time you practice.

    7. Don't stop when you get something right - do it again to re-inforce your learning or you'll probably have to re-do all your hard work next time.

    8. A little and often really is the best solution - something done only once is 66% forgotten within 24 hours and less than 10% remembered after 30 days, something done more than once a day for 8 days is 90% remembered after 30 days.

    Remember, playing a brass instrument is like any other physical/athletic activity. A little and often is much better than big peaks and troughs of activities and the proper warm up and cool down is issential to keep those important lip and stomach mucles in good condition.

    I hope this helps.

  6. m0pdq

    m0pdq New Member

    thanks pete !

    just what i was after.

    many thanks

  7. TubaPete

    TubaPete Member

    You're welcome Chris,

    What I also forgot to say is that following your part while listening to a recording can help you to work out how things fit together too. If you can learn to read your part like a book (i.e. see the music on the page and hear the pitches in your head) the quicker you will learn it when you are actually playing it - your brain will already know what's coming up.

    When buzzing, you can follow your part and buzz the approximate pitches and actual articulations you need - again this is about learning the part in advance. You might find getting a cheap keyboard (battery powered) helps with the pitching you want - a small one might stow somewhere in your cab - if not you could use a tuning machine, tuning fork or pitch pipes to give you a starting pitch (but remember that Bb cornets are transposing instruments so every note sounds a whole tone lower than written). Also, when you're buzzing, be careful not to press too hard with the mouthpiece on your lips.

    At the end of the day, the more often you can actually practice with the cornet - even if it is only for 5 or 10 minutes, the better.