Onmutu- Trumpet Article

Staying in Shape Over Break


For my students in middle school/high school as well as college they all have a break from school that lasts anywhere from two to four weeks---during the winter holidays and often two to three months during the summer breaks. Often our first reaction to a break in schedule is to slow down and take a rest. I subscribe to this philosophy but with a caveat. You see most of us are creatures of habit and we do better if there is some structure (or for some a lot of structure) to our days. This is true for breaks and vacations as well.

As for the trumpet (and virtually all musical instruments) it is vital to have a plan to remain in good shape for when things start up again in earnest.

I recommend taking the first day or two off completely if you can. If you are a professional or a working college major than you will need to take a different path. For those first couple off days get extra sleep but also remain active and take part in some leisure. I’m not a big advocate of TV/Hulu/Netflix or Video Games so I’d encourage you to spend time outside, go for a bike ride, go sledding, go for a walk or run, head to the beach.  How about a good read? A novel? What about helping someone in need? You can volunteer to ring the bell for the Salvation Army or help at a soup kitchen.  How about helping the elderly or mowing an older neighbor's lawn?  These things take initiative but they are much more fulfilling.

I recommend a great book called: Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. This is a fantastic book.

As for practice ideas and time during break here are my suggestions:

Beginners: 10-20 minutes daily (yes-daily we need daily time even over break). You need a simple but effective plan to work from---ideally a few warm-ups and a selected group of pieces or songs that you can learn.  Ideally with the guidance of a private teacher.  Otherwise it is easy to either become frustrated or continue with it until you are challenged and then stop.  Put your time in early in the day (like right after breakfast) so you are available for other activities during the rest of the day.

Middle School/Junior High/High School:  20-45 minutes daily (yes-daily we need daily time even over break). Much the same philosophy as with the beginners with a strong emphasis on weekly private or group trumpet lessons.  At this age there will be more focus on specific repertoire and upcoming music for the next semester or fall (marching band, concert band, jazz band, solo for contest, All-State or similar music competitions, etc).  Choosing to practice early in the day is wise and will give you a good sense of accomplishment for the day as well.

As you can see a major component to success while on break or through a vacation period is a good private teacher.  Other important elements include goal/reward system and quality music to work on.  Additionally, make and keep a commitment to doing this each day (or say 5 days/wk).

As for content please take time to play music that you enjoy. It may be to learn that new movie theme or jazz song. Maybe there is a church hymn or song that you want to learn. For musical ideas and actual music please let me know and I will be happy to help!

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