How to practice when you do not have time to practice

To practice or not?

Writing blogs is an interesting concept to me. I still can’t decide if this is just a weekly diary to keep track of my ramblings or a place of articles about things that interest me. Not sure I will have time to write each week.

This week has been a slow one for trumpet playing. I have hardly played this week and I will try to rectify this next week. Why I haven’t I played? Well, I haven’t had many rehearsals and no gigs yet this year, I actively don’t want to and honestly don’t have the time. I did retire from playing 7 years ago and vowed to myself that I would probably never play again having taken a job teaching IT and Business studies. (Although I wasn’t gone from Music for long)
The marching and chop abuse from the Army had taken its toll and I was fed up with trying to play how I wanted to without good results. My lip was dead and I couldn’t even get a tingle out of it no matter how much I horse flapped my lips. Over a period of 12 years, I had seen my playing get worse not better, even though I played every day without fail, sometimes 10-12 hours. When we went on holiday I would take a trumpet with me and play everyday. I should have used my leave time to put it away in the case and let myself recover, my body regenerate and my mind unwind. I guess it is sad that I grew to hate the instrument that I love so much. But luckily the itch for playing slowly returned thanks to the Central Band of the Royal British Legion. Hale Hambleton asked if I would like to attend a rehearsal and when I did the love for playing reappeared, not instantly but when I was asked to perform in a concert at Cadogan Hall. The buzz for playing came back by performing in a lovely concert hall with a top notch conductor David Cole. It was nice to play in a section that wanted each other to do well.
For me now, if I want to play, I will. If I don’t, I won’t. I can take it or leave it, long gone are the guilt feelings about not spending long enough warming up or wondering if I had done enough long tones or flexibility. Maybe it was just OCD. The saying rest as much as you play is so important. A friend used to say that my playing issues were in my head, he was kind of right, but not in the correct sense. The issue was my approach to how much time I spent with the horn in my hand. I probably cared too much rather than just letting it happen. Well a few years wiser now, I know how to play the trumpet (apparently) and I always have fresh chops. People have asked how I sound so well when I do little to no practice. The secret for me is being efficient and I will talk more about this is my next ramble.