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Improving on your instrument and learning to make music includes a lot of subtle discoveries. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget the fine points of the previous days discoveries, the details of that practice and the approach or technique involved. Keeping a daily practice journal can be quite helpful in managing ones practice and making its as productive as possible. All of your AH! moments should be noted as well as the material involved and the approach or techniques used. Write down any thought, idea or question that you have. Reviewing the previous days notes will remind you of those things that need special attention both technical and musical.  Over time you will see that you become more efficient at keeping a journal and of course you will see better results from your practice efforts. Its important to remember that we can often learn more from a moment’s reflection than we can from just blowing another bunch of notes.
Don’t practice stopping. If you stop every time you make a mistake you are actually practicing stopping. Of course we all want to fix our problems but if you stop every time you miss a note it will be difficult to develop musical continuity and accuracy. Learn to play through the mistake. By keeping the flow of the musical line going you will increase your accuracy and musicality. Of course this doesn’t mean that you ignore mistakes, you must fix them. Ok, so you’ve worked on your phrase, piece or excerpt, now play it without stopping even if you make a mistake. Then go back; isolate the problem parts and work on them.  Then play the phrase again without stopping.  Repeat the process. As you learn to play without stopping you will eventually make far less mistakes and far more music. This technique will also help a great deal with performance concentration.
If you study the practice habits of the great players you will find that rest breaks are included in their daily practice sessions. Too often players will practice until their lips are exhausted or until they flatten out or play into complete collapse of the embouchure. This non-productive approach can lead to stiff lip syndrome, poor endurance, poor range and a lack of flexibility. Straining and forcing your lips will not help you to become a better trumpeter. Herbert L. Clarke*, the great American cornet soloist and pedagogue, encouraged players to play for a minute and rest for a minute. Throughout his famous technical study book he stressed the importance of keeping the lips “fresh and elastic.” He writes: the muscles of the lips must be trained until they are elastic and strong, and always remembering that only the slightest pressure and not brute force is necessary to produce a tone." All professional players understand the importance of rest in practice. The great Russian trumpet virtuoso, Timofei Dokshizer, practiced in 20-minute segments with 20-minute rest periods. Other players have different ways of including rest in their practice. Some do 15 minutes of practice and 5-10 minutes of rest. Some include 1 to 5 minute rest after each exercise. There can be different variations on when to rest and for how long but the important thing is to rest enough so that the lips maintain their elasticity. For young players it can be a good idea to rest for 10-20 seconds between exercises. If you are a player who practices one or more hours a day try practicing in segments with rests in between. Including rests in ones daily practice is an important part of efficient and productive training.
* Clarke’s “Technical Studies for Trumpet” is one of the great trumpet study books and an absolute must for any serious player
“Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect”
                                                                     Vince Lombardi
This is an interesting quote, easy to say and easy to dream about but can be difficult to accomplish. A helpful approach to perfect practice is to pay attention to every detail as best as you can. Professional or beginner, we must all practice with care. Work out the most obvious mistakes first then move on to the subtlest ones. Repeat the difficult sections slowly. Don't play fast until you have the section learned, which might take days or weeks. After the section is learned you can gradually play it at faster tempos. Remember that speed is a final destination. The longest journey in the world is one step at a time. Give each of your steps all of your attention and you will without doubt improve.
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