My neurotic 9-pound terrier is happiest on days that follow normal and predictable patterns of activity. At the risk of drawing a parallel between the canine species and myself, dogs and I have one thing in common: We are creatures of habit who take pleasure and comfort in repetitive routines. This is a useful trait for a brass player.
Many of the things brass players practice are, on the surface, rather mundane. There is little musical inspiration to be gleaned from long tones or flexibilities, yet they are essential if we are to develop mastery over the instrument, so that it functions as an ally rather than an enemy when it comes to making music. Many players view these exercises as chores to be endured, but the time invested would reap greater rewards if they enjoy the process.
Throughout all the various stages of my life, mornings have been reserved for and devoted to trumpet practice. It is such a regular part of my daily routine—coffee, then trumpet—that my mind and body have become conditioned to expect it. My lips welcome the workout in the same way that a body may crave a fitness routine. Like physical fitness, the workout is only enjoyable if I am in shape. Therefore I am loath to miss a day, and I rarely do. Sometimes that means getting up before sunrise to allow time to practice. I don’t feel ready to proceed with the day until I have reestablished my relationship with the horn, and if I leave it until later, I run the risk of running short of time and/or mental focus.
Because practicing is an everyday occurrence, it is not something I have to remember or convince myself to do; it is simply something I do. I enjoy practicing the trumpet, but more to the point, I can’t imagine not practicing. While not as essential to the continuance of life as eating and sleeping, it feels every bit as integral.
Make practicing a daily habit, and you may find that it becomes a pleasure, not a chore.
About the Author
Chase Sanborn is a jazz trumpet player based in Toronto. He is on the faculty at the University of Toronto and is the author of “Brass Tactics,” “Jazz Tactics,” “Tuning Tactics” and “Music Business Tactics.” Chase is a Yamaha Artist.
Visit his website at www.chasesanborn.com. Questions about all things brass-related can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.