Today we'll discuss getting ahead of the competition by staying focused over the summer.
Summer is a great time to get ahead of your competition by working on fundamentals. Many people take it easy over the break. Last summer I made it my mission to improve my range both low an high. I set a goal of adding an octave and ended up adding about an octave and a half. You can read all about how I did it here.
Staying focused on the single goal of increasing range last summer worked so well that I decided to pick a different goal this summer and work towards it. This summer I want to increase my double tongue speed from sixteenths at quarter = 150 to sixteenths at quarter = 200.
I was inspired by a shooting drill that basketball superstar, Lebron James does after practice. He takes three point shots until he's made 400. That's probably around 1,000 shots after he's been practicing and training all day, by the way. I like the idea of trying to improve double tongue technique with a high-volume (lots of repetitions) drill. My plan is to play through the Brum! exercise from the Brass Gym (euphonium and tuba) 200 times each practice day. There are 12 lines, so if I play the exercise top to bottom 17 times that's a total of 204 lines!
In the past week I've increased the tempo of the exercise to 160. I don't expect linear gains for very long. At some point I'll have to slow tempo increases down to 5 beats per week, then 2.5, then 1. Once I reach a plateau I'll switch exercises to some of the more advanced double tongue examples from the Arban book. After that, a different exercise. After that, maybe I'll experiment with tongue placement and try to find something more efficient/faster.
Without getting too far into the weeds, make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely). You can find more about SMART goals here.
What're your goals for this summer?
Thank you for reading!
Jeremy is Associate Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at West Texas A&M University.