Day 14: Pull it apart and work note by note

I recorded a portion of my playing today. My intention was to listen to my tone quality as I pulled a scale apart to focus on a cluster of notes (F Major in 3rds). I was surprised to notice my tonguing was sloppy. It was so easily heard, but I didn’t know I was doing it. To be aware of our limitations, we must be brutally honest with ourselves. Recordings can be a powerful tool.

While I was listening back to the recording I remembered a great article on about two different listening modes and the importance of recording yourself. The two modes are conceiving mode, when you are creating, and evaluating mode. Creating music is a complex task and we need to concentrate fully when performing. Play and record yourself. Stop and listen to yourself.  Each action gets full attention at a specific point in time.

I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t want to get bogged down with some app that was tedious to use. But I found a simple-to-use app called “HI-Q MP3 Voice Recorder (free)” on Google Play. I simply hit the record button and then the stop button. The app automatically names the file with the day’s time and date. When I start recording I introduce what I’m going to play and then I just get on with it.

I made a note of the recordings in my Comeback Journal and will revisit the recordings in a few weeks time for a “then & now” comparison.

Day 12: Saturday! Playing throughout the day

(Since I fell behind on my days, I’ve decided to jump to the current day.)

I practice in 20 minute sessions (recommended by Dr. Martin). Here’s the structure of a typical day:

  • first session is all warm-up. nothing extreme, just solid basics.
  • all other sessions contain a variety of tasks that I must cover.

In my Comeback Manual, I write out what I will cover in the session, then write in the times I spend on each item. Each session has a goal. I use the stop watch on my phone as a way to stay focused on the details. I’ll write down how my lips are feeling, if a particular exercise gave me trouble, and even the amount of time I rested between sessions. In between playing sessions I worked on my chromatic fingerings and ear training.

I hit F on the staff. If you’re a trumpet player you may be rolling your eyes. It’s ok. Range has always been a weak link for me. Actually, most things are weak links. I didn’t have solid direction when I began playing at 10 years old and I merely repeated the bad habits as I grew older. Humility. It’s good for the soul.


Day 9: Retrospective (The best lesson I’ve ever had)

Wow. The lesson progressed from one topic to the next, but all were interconnected. Things clicked for me that hadn’t before. My teacher is a patient man.

I take my Comeback Journal with me to lessons. I use the Comeback Journal to track my practice sessions, lessons, thoughts on practice, and notes I gather from the web and books. Check out James Blackwell’s article and video about setting up a practice journal. His site and YouTube channel contain a lot of helpful information.