I've written before about daily routines and their importance to the development of every brass player. My stance on that certainly hasn't changed. The daily routine is where the majority of your progress as a brass player will take place. Something I've been experimenting with recently though is the use of multiple routines over the course of a few weeks.
The reason for this experimentation is this: I'd been doing the same routine (Routine III) for a two years.
I'd made great progress, become a more complete player, and...reached a point with one of the exercises in particular where I was becoming overly concerned with the mechanical aspects of playing. This is a bad thing. It's called paralysis by analysis. More on that next time. Long story short though, after a certain point you should really only think about what sounds you want to come from the instrument.
In any case, I thought Routine III had run it's course for me. So I decided to adopt a new strategy. I'll probably come back to Routine III during my off-season (starting in MAY!). Until then though, I plan to rotate every couple of weeks to a different routine. The performance season is September-May this year. So for what's left of performance season I'll use Daily Fundamentals for the Trumpet by Michael Sachs, The Brass Gym, Daily Drills and Technical Studies for trumpet by Max Schlossberg, and a few others I've found online.
I'll let you know what I find out as I go through the process of developing this idea. For the time being, I'm excited to be trying something new because I believe it could yield great results. At the very least, it will help me to stay well-rounded during the performance season.
Let me know what you think.
Thank you for reading!
Today I'll introduce new materials on JeremyLewisTuba.com.
I recently took a group of students to the International Euphonium-Tuba Festival. There were lots of great activities at IET like private lessons, masterclasses, recitals, and ensembles. We had an awesome time. I was asked to present during the festival and in preparation I compiled three tiered daily routine packets. Here they are!
Routine I (tuba and euphonium)
This is the routine I give to anyone who hasn't worked through any of my routines yet.
Routine II (tuba and euphonium)
Routine II is a bridge between Routine I and III
Routine III (tuba and euphonium)
This is basically the routine I do every day.
A Few Notes on the Routines
Start with Routine I and increase difficulty incrementally each day. To increase difficulty you can extend the range of exercises (down and up), increase tempi, vary volume, change rhythms, etc. Once you've reached a plateau on any given exercise and been stuck for a few days, drop the difficulty back a few days of incremental increases and work your way past the point where you plateaued. Keep doing this until you are no longer able to break the plateau.
Once you've reached the limit of Routine I, move on to Routine II, then III. Note that you probably won't upgrade to Routine II or III all at once. That is to say, you can upgrade to Routine II Range before Flexibility, or Chromatics, or any of the other exercise categories. This is okay!
Keep a journal of everything you do in your routine. In my journal I put the date, how low and high I play during the Range exercise, and tempo in Chromatics, Flexibility, and Articulation. Refer back to the previous entry and go lower/higher, and faster.
Take your time. Be honest with yourself. There is no need to force progress to happen. Execution is of the utmost importance, not speed, volume, or high/low. If something doesn't sound like you imagine it should, slow down. If a slur isn't smooth, slow down!
The routine is the most important playing you'll do every day. And you should do it every day (unless it's your day off). This is where progress really happens. Push yourself further every day and don't settle for anything less than your best. You'll be amazed by what you can accomplish. Record yourself playing your routine every now and then. More importantly, listen to and analyze what you hear.
How're your summer goals going?
Thank you for reading!
Jeremy is Associate Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at West Texas A&M University.