Shift to summer: new explorations

Over the last several days, I outlined a summer plan of practice that will help me get my performance repertoire ready. But what is summer without a vacation or two? And by vacation, I mean exploring new things on the trumpet. For me, two “trumpet vacations” come to mind: playing jazz and working on natural baroque trumpet (without fingerholes and with a considerably larger mouthpiece than my modern one).

I like the idea of getting better in both of those areas, but I don’t want to detract from my main goals–my musical commitments. Do you have similar side interests, but are doubtful that they will fit into your workload? I suggest the two-minute rule.

I wrote about this a while back in a blog on building habits, borrowing from James Clear’s “Atomic Habits.” The idea is that if you want to do something well, you have to be in the habit of doing it. One of the most important concepts in building a new habit is consistency. Doing it every day for a long time can bring about big changes. Usually, however, we get overly enthusiastic about our adventures into new habits. We typically want to get the results right away, so we increase our time and energies. We get out of balance with our normal commitments and routines. Then, in the end, we typically burn out.

Instead of this unfortunate cycle, I suggest that you limit your new ambitions to only two minutes a day. Do this for a month. This is enough time to play through a jazz tune a few times. It’s enough time to play a movement or a few exercises on the natural baroque trumpet. It’s just enough time to get your toes wet with whatever new skill you are hoping to get good at. Try it out, and enjoy your “trumpet vacation.”

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