Shift to summer with stacking

This is the time of year I shift from my normal academic trumpet routine–whatever that might be–to a new routine for summer. For the summer break we get in academia and many playing jobs. I realize with what irony I say this while there is snow on the ground in Colorado, where I live (it’s May 11).

It’s a chance to rethink what you do. A chance to find ways to get your faded fundamentals feeling fresh while your eyes are on the big goals. Most of the time this means stacking my clarified goals onto my mundane fundamental needs. But before I get into stacking, we should look at goals. Everyone has their own big goals. I’ll share my top five.

  1. Get tenure at Colorado State. For me this means being a better recruiter, teacher, and performer.
  2. Be creative. This is a driving force for me.
  3. Be healthy. This means physical and mental fitness, doctor and dentist stuff.
  4. Family
  5. Being a good leader in the Historic Brass Society

The big goal that most easily “stacks” with my trumpet playing is getting tenure at CSU, because that what I do. I am the trumpet professor. The summer shift means being deliberate about the portfolio of music that I am practicing. In July, I will do a major solo recording project, so that is the most important repertoire on my stand. There are other pieces on the horizon, but for today’s post, I’ll concentrate on this recording project.

My goal is to make a great video recording, collaborating with my colleagues and making media material that will interest people in the CSU Trumpet Studio.

My strategy for preparation is to think of my chop fitness, my mental preparation, my visual presentation and some technology issues with one of the pieces (it has computer-generated accompaniment).

  1. For chop fitness, I mean my overall fundamentals. I’m trying to spread them out over the several instruments that I have to play, so that they are all comfortable. It’s no good having a great high register on one piece and, at the same time, not be able to play pianissimo on a low flugelhorn note. So, for instance, I’ll play my Clarkes or slur studies on the flugel.
  2. Mental preparation: even though all of these pieces are newly-commissioned compositions, there are some recordings I’ve made of the material over the last year, and there are some midi-recordings the composers have provided. Practicing with a recording is a huge benefit that will help my ensemble and memory work. Memory would be a great goal, especially for the two unaccompanied pieces. Not sure if I have time, but I’ll try.
  3. Visual. This will be video-recorded. I should put some effort into looking organized in my body–while at the same time relaxed and fluid. Practicing expressions, both while playing and while resting can be helpful. Video recording myself during practices, mirror practice are two ways to tackle this.
  4. Technology. I have to practice one piece with lots of little pedal cues for the computer. There are a lot of things going on, but it would be great to look confident on a video recording of this piece.


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