I recently read about keystone habits in Wiff Rudd’s wonderful new self-published book, Side by Side: Building and Sustaining an Effective Community in the Music Studio. Wiff, trumpet professor at Baylor University, is a voracious reader, referring to many inspiring books throughout. One of them is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and from this source, Wiff brings up the concept of “keystone habits,” which are habits that, when fully embraced and followed through for a long period of time, will bring about positive change. For Wiff, his example was introducing group warmup for his studio (“The Hang” or “Tone Bath”). This was such a critical change for Wiff and his studio, building great fundamentals, community, and a shared musical vocabulary.
At the CSU Trumpet Studio, we have been doing group warmups for about three years now, but we can grow with some of the very innovative thoughts Wiff introduces (like skits). And we shall. As of now, my graduate teaching assistant runs the once-a-week warmup, but my goal is to introduce a second warmup session that I will run more like the Baylor Trumpet Studio “Tone Bath” with more fluidity and projects to prepare for professional life (at Baylor, there are two warmups).
I also think about my own keystone habits more keenly now, and I am doing one of them. Writing in this blog. Often I have been discouraged from writing because I have felt that I don’t have anything to contribute, but this is just old man Doubt trying to hold me back. I have come to realize that Trumpet Journey is such a great place for me to learn and share my learning about the trumpet. The other keystone habit that is so critical for me is exercise. When I exercise each day, my body and mind are much more awake and willing to do the work they are capable of doing (plus, during exercise, I can practice Pimsleur French and listen to Audible books!).
Author Elisa Koehler is now the chair of the Department of Music at Winthrop University. She is a great trumpeter and writer about the trumpet. When she was at Goucher College, she came out with several books including A Dictionary for the Modern Trumpet Player, published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2015. You can find this title on Amazon in hard cover or Kindle, and you should get it, because it is a great resource for any trumpeter. Completely cross-referenced, it alphabetically takes on the most important facts, people, equipment and makers of the trumpet. One of the things I love about the book is its focus on the most relevant information–just enough to help explain something to a trumpet student who is wondering what a “keyed trumpet” might be and perhaps help start a student essay on the subject. But there are many obscure entries, also:
phorbeia. Ancient Greek version of the capistrum, a strap used to support the cheeks while playing at loud volumes on the salpinx or the autos.
There are entries for most of the truly important players, like Louis Armstrong (“Known by his nickname, Satchmo, in 1924 he joined Fletcher Henderson’s band in New York, but returned to Chicago in 1925 and began recording.”), Philip Smith (“…Smith won the audition to replace Gerard Schwarz in the New York Philharmonic in 1978….” and Valaida Snow (“…she is the only female trumpet player of the vintage or swing eras to be extensively documented on record.”).
Perhaps the best thing about this book is that Dr. Koehler chose to illustrate certain instruments and other equipment with line drawings by Todd Larsen. Line drawings can be so helpful in getting the true gist of a physical object. Here’s an example:
Drawing by Larsen on p. 29 of Koehler’s Dictionary
The one complaint I have is that this book is that it is expensive at $72. This is comparable to most academic books these days, but is still a little out of reach for most students, who may have to find this title in their local library.
This may sound crazy, but I would encourage a curious trumpeter to just start reading this book from the beginning. It’s not as daunting as you might think at just 219 pages. You will become much more knowledgable about your instrument.