I’ve been watching a bunch of videos on Brent Vaartstra’s Learn Jazz Standards site. Brent has done a great job creating this terrific jazz resource. If you don’t know about him, check out: https://www.learnjazzstandards.com/start-here/
One of Brent’s videos is how to get huge results from a 30 minute jazz practice session. The video is good because it helps players become more organized and disciplined within their limited time. Doing something a little every day is monumentally better than a herculean effort taken once in a while. I talk to players who think they must practice a lot more or they just won’t get better, but I think that we can all make our practice time more efficient and this is one good way.
As I watched his video, it struck me how much our instrument affects our perception of things. Brent is a jazz guitarist who begins describing how the 30 minutes can be apportioned, and suggests a 5-minute warm-up called Technique as the first portion of the 30-minute practice, and proceeds to run a few jazz patterns as part of that technical warm-up.
I think to myself that as a trombone player, I need 30 minutes just to get to where I can play over a decent part of my horn’s range. I need 30 minutes just to locate my technique. I don’t know where it went. It’s buried in there somewhere! My mouthpiece buzzing could last longer than 5 minutes!
It’s just interesting how we frame the world influenced by our instrument.
I realized that I’m actually jealous because I can’t pick up my instrument and not suck for the next 30 minutes. I’m also jealous of guitar players because as brass players, we have to hunt down a secluded sound-dampened place to play. Guitar players are up wailing in their hotel room. No one next door will be disturbed. No hotel security explanations.
This is how I avoid security explanations in New York:
While I’m on a roll, I’m jealous that there’s pretty much no place that you can’t just whip out a guitar and sound cool, romantic, macho, or just fun. Trombone? Not so much. I may test the waters next week when I’m in New York. If I have time, I’ll create a video of me playing down in the subway somewhere. Safe to say it won’t have the panache of Brent playing a solo guitar rendition of Wave but I’ll at least get to play loud!!
Last, I want to plug the podcast Brent did recently with my friend Rodney Brim. Dr. Brim is a wellspring of insight into how our brains work and was in great form for the 30-minute conversation he had with Brent. Check it out here.
I’ve got to get back to practicing. I’ve finally warmed up almost enough to play a few arpeggios now.