Practice big for piccolo: the 2-for-1 strategy

In 1991, I was a member of the National Repertory Orchestra. My roommate was a dear friend––the late Ryan Anthony, of Canadian Brass and Dallas Symphony Orchestra fame. He was perhaps 22 at the time, and was very youthful in his whole outlook on life and the trumpet. He had already played Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (“BB2”) a number of times by this point in his career, so I asked him for some advice in getting ready to play this piece.

Normally, he––and most of us trumpeters––would play this on the B-flat piccolo trumpet. But, he said one thing that worked really well for him was to practice the piece in the correct octave on the normal, big B-flat trumpet, with his normal big mouthpiece. He recommended playing it with the same fingerings as the piccolo trumpet (with a lot of 1-3 combinations, for instance) and to not hold back in dynamics. After doing this, he felt a lot more secure on the piccolo! Maybe we can call this the “2-for-1” practice strategy!

I have followed his advice over the years, with at least one attempt at practicing the “BB2” on the big horn to prepare for the piccolo. I have also performed the BB2 on the baroque trumpet, but this doesn’t work so effectively for preparing such a performance. However, I imagine that if I could get a natural F instrument (such as a hand horn, or just add a lot of crooks to a normal baroque trumpet), then I could try the 2-for-1 strategy this way, too!

This Saturday, I am performing BB2 with the Fort Collins Symphony, and I thought I would share a little of this 2-for-1 practice strategy with you in this little video. I hope this might help you, too, if you need to prepare this very high piece.

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Make a trifold mirror for your studio!

Most teachers have a mirror on their wall, so that their students can look at themselves when playing. But would you like to offer up a side view to your students? If so, you would need a trifold mirror. If you shop for one on the Internet, already made, you are looking at about $800-900. This is quite expensive! What about making your own? I’m not handy, but I tried. It worked! If I can make one, you can, too!

I already had a full-length mirror on my studio wall, so I didn’t need to buy that. I wanted to have two mirrors on either side of this mirror.

So, I bought two door mirrors from Target for $17 each. Then I bought two continuous hinges (1in. X 48in.) for $15 each. These come with very small (#4) screws. I also bought some #6 wood screws and some drywall anchors for these. The total cost to me was about $70. I already had the tools I needed: a drill, a 3/16in. drill bit, and a very small phillips head screw bit.

I screwed the hinges into the back of the mirrors (into a kind of tough cardboard). One hinge for each mirror. Then I propped up my mirror with some boxes, so that I could easily mark the wall for the pilot holes that I would drill. I drilled them, put in the plastic anchors, then put the mirror back on the boxes, so that they would be in the exact same place vertically. Then I screwed in the #6 screws (not the #4 screws that came with the mirror–these were too small). I took me about an hour and a half to make the whole project.

Take a look and see what the view is like with the trifold mirror!

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