On the horn / Off the horn 20160117


On the horn

I have been giving some thought this week about routines. As mentioned in my previous blog, I have been going through Clarke’s Technical studies, focusing more on playing the studies clean vs as fast as I can without regard for fluffed notes. I feel this has helped me focus on dexterity and while I believe it will take more than a week of this, it gave me a good sense of how much time it takes to go through each study.

I have always felt overwhelmed by all the routines out there. Clarkes, Schlossberg, Charlier Etudes, Arban’s, Claude Gordon books, etc. The list goes on and on. My nature was always “give it all or don’t bother”. However, the past two months of practicing every day, some days more than others, have made me realize again that playing the trumpet, and perhaps any instrument, is a path of self-discovery. In that spirit, I have made my own routine book. I’ve always had what I dub the ‘Dave Dunlop’ warm up, since he’s the one that showed me this. That’s what I do every day no matter how I feel. To this I’m now adding two keys of Clarke 2, 3, 4. My next plan is to pick a routine/method and follow that method for one week to really get to know it. Now, I’m not going to master the method in one week obviously. It’s more about saying “Hey there, what’s your story” to the method and seeing what I am drawn to in the method and how I can incorporate that specific method into my own routine.

This upcoming week I am going to focus on a version of the Bill Adam routine, as adapted by Paul Baron. I took a lesson with Paul and thought it was one of those eye opening lessons. This is the routine he uses. I am skipping Clarke study 1 as it is similar or almost the same as number 2 in Paul’s routine. I will keep track of what is similar in each routine so as to always have material that address a fundamental but in a different approach. For example, Clarke study 1 is similar (or the same) as study 2in Paul’s routine, therefore they are interchangeable when I built my own routine book.

As before, I am tracking my progress in a spreadsheet to see if I have improved when I repeat a study/key. In the end, I will pick and choose different elements of the various methods and build a routine that makes sense for ME. This after all is what is most important in my opinion, the process of self discovery and progress. In the end, I have my idea of what kind of trumpet player I want to be, and I will work towards that for as long as I’m able to breath.

Off the horn

I have mainly focused on my private teaching goal this week. In fact, I had a student this week in my newly setup lesson space. Creating a well thought out space has proven important to my practice/lesson sessions. This might be obvious to some, however, to me I never really focused on putting thought into how I want to use each space. When I took lessons from Chase Sanborn, I was always impressed with his organization of space. He took me through lessons, never wasting time on looking for material that applied to the lesson, and always gave a print out of lesson notes and next steps. I thought this was a great way to organize a lesson and wanted to imitate this concept. I made a template which incorporates some basic concepts.

I’ve created two spaces, one for lessons/practice without electronic distraction and one for doing work that requires a computer or other electronic equipment.

Practice/Lesson Space:


  • Space for a printer/laptop to take notes and create custom print outs of lessons for students to take homre
  • A keyboard
  • A mirror
  • A metronome/tuner
  • Wall space that is geared to brass playing/music theory

Work Space

trumpet practice, media edit, recording, transcribing

Work Space

A computer with essential software

  • TASCAM US-1800 interface to record session (a great interface by the way)
  • Yamaha Studio Monitors (Thanks to my father-in-law)
  • All books/sheet music organized and readily available

I also spent some time going through my neighborhood handing out flyers. As my wife says “you got to pound pavement”. Even in our digital age, this seems to be a great way to generate some business. In fact, with a new student I just got we had an initial consultation meeting. This was a great way to seeing how teacher/student mix and if the goals of the student would line up with the style/experience of the teacher.

Lasts, in order to have access to the information I’ve gathered throughout the last 20 years of playing trumpet, I have created a spreadsheet of all my material. Method books, Jazz/Latin books, General music books, Composing/Arranging/Theory books, Sheet Music, Classical pieces, Transcriptions, etc.. The idea being immediate access to information. I have wasted so much time looking for something that I want. To take this wasted time, make it more efficient, and use that ‘gained’ time to do something else, for example practice or write a blog, adds up to a lot. Kind of like “Watch your pennies and the dollars will come” or to update the saying to modern day “Watch your nickels and the dollars will come”.

Since I am a bit older now, it’s all about time efficiencies. I have to practice to up my playing ability, and thus I need to find time that was previously spent in other ways. I don’t look at this as a negative or dwell on this situation. I just have to have a strategy in order to be able to achieve my goals.

On a business note

On a business note, I have listened to a lot of players, especially over the past two months. Players that have been in the industry for many decades to players that are relatively fresh. There probably isn’t one defined path that will make a player successful in the industry. That is part of what draws me to being a “carrier” or professional player. Figure out what makes sense for me and come up with a business strategy. There for sure is a new way of doing business with social media being a main differentiator between now and what happened before now.

I have come up with a price sheet for the various services that I get asked to do, for example how much I charge for doing church services, remembrance day, trio gigs at restaurants, etc. My thought is that if you don’t have a price for each service, the price you give to a client will be dictated by the mood of the day one is in. The standard that a lot of seasoned players quote is “union scale”. I have not been in the union for over 5 years. The discussion on the music union is one that I’d rather not get into here, however, my approach is that I have set my own “scale” that I will stick to and that makes sense for my situation. For example, I have played in pro-am bands and rehearsal bands for many years. This entails playing gigs for free at times. I have always not felt right about this, but especially now that I want to be honest to myself and make music my livelihood, I don’t want to do gigs for free. I have set a minimum amount that I need to get in order to play a gig. There have been two people in the past two weeks that called on me. I gave my price to one person and they said “Great, we can do this”. The second person said “I’ll look for someone else.” Both of these answers are fine with me. I am desperate for money, however, it’s important to set a standard for yourself and uphold it.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to next week’s blog where I will have completed putting my thoughts together on the James Morrison DVD amongst other things.

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