Have you ever walked (or dejectedly shuffled) into the practice room, begrudgingly opened your case, assembled your instrument….and wondered what the heck you have to practice?

           Maybe you’re overwhelmed with excerpts. Maybe you have to learn your scales for All State auditions. Or maybe you don’t even know what you should practice. Not to fear, my trusty Practice Pyramid is here!

           You’re probably familiar with the food pyramid from health classes past. It’s undergone a few makeovers recently, but the basic idea is essentially the same. A daily diet with the right proportions of certain foods will increase your overall health. Like the food pyramid, your practice routine should also have balanced proportions of fundamentals and repertoire.

           Practice pyramids may differ slightly for each musician, depending on age, skill level, weaknesses, and personal/professional goals. Below, I describe the elements of my personal practice pyramid.


Scales are the fruits and vegetables of your musical diet. Like fruits and veggies, there is quite the variety of scales, and you should sample them all for optimal musical health. Scales are the foundation for all music, and I believe that they are the single most important thing you can practice. Daily scale work is the easiest and fastest way to improve technique, agility, and finesse.

Long tones: 

As a former non-believer of the power of long tones, I am now a dedicated long tone enthusiast. Nothing can turn a sound around like consistent long tone practice. In addition to your sound (aka musical voice), long tones can improve tone, tuning, timbre (believe it or not, these are three distinct qualities), breath support, lung capacity, air control, and connection between notes. This is the first thing I play every single day, and the only reason that I didn’t put long tones as the foundation of the practice pyramid is because too much time on long tones causes embouchure fatigue – not good for the rest of your practice session!


For my fellow Zelda fans out there, articulation completes the warmup Triforce (along with scales and long tones). It is crucial to develop and maintain fast, light, clean, and symmetrical articulation in all styles and patterns (legato, staccato, marcato). You should practice articulation daily, but keep in mind that articulation is best practiced in smaller increments to avoid tongue fatigue. This is probably the only element of practice which gets worse the more you practice, so make sure to focus to get the most benefits during your articulation regimen.


This is the meat and potatoes of my musical diet (tofu and potatoes, since I’m a vegetarian). This includes études, orchestral excerpts, solo literature, and any other music for band, auditions, or performances. Make sure to allot enough time for each piece during the repertoire portion of your practice routine.


Consider sight-reading the omega-3 fatty acids of your musical diet. Great in concentrated doses, but not necessarily more effective in larger quantities. Sight reading skills are developed over time, so don’t cram this into a few practice sessions. Consistent sight reading will yield the best results.


This is the decadent chocolate cake, tiramisu, New York cheesecake, double fudge brownie – insert dessert of your choice – to your musical diet. Be sure to occasionally indulge on music that you love. Maybe it’s Disney soundtracks or favorite pop songs. Dedicate a few minutes towards music for music’s sake. No analysis, problem-solving or critical thinking. Just have fun!

Wynton's Twelve Ways To Practice

As a boy growing up in New Orleans, I remember my father, Ellis, a pianist, and his friends talking about “sheddin’.” When they got together, theyʼd say, “Man, you need to go shed,” or “I’ve been sheddin’ hard.” When I was around 11, I realized that sheddin’ meant getting to the woodshed – practicing. By the age of 16, I understood what the shed was really about – hard, concentrated work. When my brother Branford and I auditioned for our high school band, the instructor, who knew my father, was excited about Ellisʼ sons coming to the band. But my audition was so pitiful he said, “Are you sure youʼre Ellis’ son?”

At the time, his comment didn’t bother me because I was more interested in basketball than band. Over the next several years, however, I began practicing seriously. Practice is essential to learning music – and anything else, for that matter. I like to say that the time spent practicing is the true sign of virtue in a musician. When you practice, it means you are willing to sacrifice to sound good.

Even if practice is so important, kids find it very hard to do because there are so many distractions. Thatʼs why I always encourage them to practice and explain how to do it. I’ve developed what I call “Wynton’s 12 Ways to Practice.” These will work for almost every activity – from music to schoolwork to sports.


1. Seek out instruction: Find an experienced teacher who knows what you should be doing. A good teacher will help you understand the purpose of practicing and can teach you ways to make practicing easier and more productive.

2. Write out a schedule: A schedule helps you organize your time. Be sure to allow time to review the fundamentals because they are the foundation of all the complicated things that come later. If you are practicing basketball, for example, be sure to put time in your schedule to practice free throws.

3. Set goals: Like a schedule, goals help you organize your time and chart your progress. Goals also act as a challenge: something to strive for in a specific period of time. If a certain task turns out to be really difficult, relax your goals: practice doesnʼt have to be painful to achieve results.

4. Concentrate: You can do more in 10 minutes of focused practice than in an hour of sighing and moaning. This means no video games, no television, no radio, just sitting still and working. Start by concentrating for a few minutes at a time and work up to longer periods gradually. Concentrated effort takes practice too, especially for young people.

5. Relax and practice slowly: Take your time; donʼt rush through things. Whenever you set out to learn something new – practicing scales, multiplication tables, verb tenses in Spanish – you need to start slowly and build up speed.

6. Practice hard things longer: Donʼt be afraid of confronting your inadequacies; spend more time practicing what you canʼt do. Adjust your schedule to reflect your strengths and weaknesses. Donʼt spend too much time doing what comes easily. Successful practice means coming face to face with your shortcomings. Donʼt be discouraged; youʼll get it eventually.

7. Practice with expression: Every day you walk around making yourself into “you,” so do everything with the proper attitude. Put all of yourself into participating and try to do your best, no matter how insignificant the task may seem. Express your “style” through how you do what you do.

8. Learn from your mistakes: None of us are perfect, but donʼt be too hard on yourself. If you drop a touchdown pass, or strike out to end the game, itʼs not the end of the world. Pick yourself up, analyze what went wrong and keep going. Most people work in groups or as part of teams. If you focus on your contributions to the overall effort, your personal mistakes wonʼt seem so terrible.

9. Donʼt show off: Itʼs hard to resist showing off when you can do something well. In high school, I learned a breathing technique so I could play a continuous trumpet solo for 10 minutes without stopping for a breath. But my father told me, “Son, those who play for applause, thatʼs all they get.” When you get caught up in doing the tricky stuff, youʼre just cheating yourself and your audience.

10. Think for yourself: Your success or failure at anything ultimately depends on your ability to solve problems, so donʼt become a robot. Think about Dick Fosbury, who invented the Fosbury Flop for the high jump. Everyone used to run up to the bar and jump over it forwards. Then Fosbury came along and jumped over the bar backwards, because he could go higher that way. Thinking for yourself helps develop your powers of judgment. Sometimes you may judge wrong and pay the price; but when you judge right you reap the rewards.

11. Be optimistic: How you feel about the world expresses who you are. When you are optimistic, things are either wonderful or becoming wonderful. Optimism helps you get over your mistakes and go on to do better. It also gives you endurance because having a positive attitude makes you feel that something great is always about to happen.

12. Look for connections: No matter what you practice, youʼll find that practicing itself relates to everything else. It takes practice to learn a language, cook good meals or get along well with people. If you develop the discipline it takes to become good at something, that discipline will help you in whatever else you do. Itʼs important to understand that kind of connection. The more you discover the relationships between things that at first seem different, the larger your world becomes. In other words, the woodshed can open up a whole world of possibilities.

5 Ways for Trumpet (brass) Players to Build Endurance!!

Daniel Mihajlovic | trumpet

Endurance is often a breathing problem. It can be frustrating when you can only practice 20 minutes or when you worry during a gig that your endurance might not be strong enough to get you through to the last note…


Play more economically

    The most important concept in building endurance is that you learn to play more skillfully and waste less of your power, which means you will have more endurance! Instead of jumping right into endurance exercises, first strive to unlearn habitual, excessive, and obstructive tensions. This can be done in two ways:

    First, be in a relaxed state of body and mind before playing. Then be aware of how this state changes while you’re playing. Ask yourself, “What am I thinking, e.g., about playing this slur exercise, that makes me tense my shoulders while playing it? If this shoulder tension wasn’t part of my subconscious ‘plan’ of what must be done to accomplish this task, my brain wouldn’t be sending directions to those shoulder muscles to contract.” Thanks to this long-term strategy, I use a fraction of the effort while playing as I did two, five, or ten years before.

    Second, examine the details. Observe a movement in great detail and make precise improvements. An example would be breath support. In this example, ask yourself, “Could my abdominal muscles be more relaxed before and after playing? Could I synchronize the beginning of the tone and breath support better? Is the effort appropriate, concerning pitch and volume?” When you practice exercises for dosing of air pressure, you can observe the movements of the tongue in slow motion. Is there too much tension? Are your vocal cords involved, even though they should stay out of it? And so on. By examining the details and making appropriate adjustments, you can experience a dramatic increase in how effectively you play.

Don’t waste your power

    I am amazed to see some trumpet players give their best to be completely exhausted before the rehearsal or concert begins. They play as high and loudly as they can; they play loooong notes (exhausting!). The list goes on. If you’re doing any of these things, here’s my advice: Stop it!

    Particularly in wind bands, there’s a collective warm-up at the beginning of rehearsal which has only one effect on brass players: lip fatigue. I conduct a wind band, and I make sure the most exhausting pieces are played at the beginning of rehearsal. I also refuse to schedule a three-hour, so-called “sound check” right before a concert, which clarinet players feel would be a great idea. Maybe you can pass these ideas along to your conductor.

    It’s also not a good idea to practice for 4,000 hours on the day of the concert. Just play a couple of minutes, if that makes you feel more comfortable. Don’t try out the high, demanding phrase 27 times right before the concert just to make sure it really, really works. By doing so, the probability that it will work in the concert decreases because your muscles will already be tired.

    And the last point I want to make here: if absolutely necessary, you can, of course, skip that long pianissimo note–which nobody can hear anyway because the saxophones are drowning it out! You might also shorten the half-note a tiny bit to relax.

Benefit from breaks

    Another tactic is based on your heart’s endurance strategy. The heart muscle can work consistently over many, many decades because it immediately relaxes after activity. It truly helps to be able to relax completely, even if it’s just a small break. The concept here is to make a habit of completely relaxing when you breathe in. Let go of any tensions and get back to a neutral, relaxed state. Small tensions tend to accumulate, and after a while, you end up with an enduring tension that diminishes your endurance. So, it’s a good idea to train yourself to automatically “push the reset button” on a regular basis.

Practice smartly

    Practice the most exhausting stuff at the beginning of a rehearsal session. This way, you incrementally learn that it’s relatively easy. The opposite of this smart approach is to practice scales starting with C major, C# major, D major, etc. When you finally reaching the high C or above, it’s really hard to play because of the 10 minutes you spent playing before that.

    It’s the same with pieces. The high phrase at the end might be difficult only because you are already exhausted. If you always start at the beginning of the piece, you will link “exhausted” to this phrase. It would be much smarter to practice it at the beginning to connect it to a feeling of success. The next step would be to start with the phrase right before it, in other words, to include it, step by step, into the whole context.

    We all have blind spots like this. We are unaware that we’re not practicing smartly, so it can be a big help to get feedback from time to time and to think through your routines.

Endurance training

    Finally, and only now, it makes sense to additionally build muscles – as the cherry on top. We’re especially talking about lips and tongue here. There are lots of effective exercises available including “bodybuilding” for lips and tongue.


    There are no shortcuts to acquiring better endurance. Learning to play more efficiently in combination with muscle building is a feasible option for everyone. Now, choose one of the ideas presented in this blog, and add it to your practice routine.

The 4 Rituals That Will Make You an Expert at Anything by Eric Barker

We hear a lot about “10,000 hours” being what it takes to become an expert. But the majority of people totally misunderstand the idea.

So I decided to go to the source and talk to the guy who actually created the theory.

Anders Ericsson is a professor of psychology at Florida State University. His wonderful new book is Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

So what does everybody get wrong? 2 things.

First, the “10,000 hour rule” is not a rule and it’s not an exact number. The amount of time varies from field to field. It’s an average. But it’s always a lot and more is better. Here’s Anders:

“In most domains it’s remarkable how much time even the most “talented” individuals need in order to reach the highest levels of performance. The 10,000 hour number just gives you a sense that we’re talking years of 10 to 20 hours a week which those who some people would argue are the most innately talented individuals still need to get to the highest level.”

What’s the second mistake? Becoming an expert is not merely doing something over and over for 10,000 hours. There’s a right way — and an awful lot of wrong ways — to spend that time.

Let’s learn the right way…


1) Find A Mentor

The most important part of deliberate practice is solitary practice. Hard work. But that’s not the first step.

The first step is social. You need to know what to do. And that’s where mentors, coaches and teachers come in. (To find the best mentor for you, click here.) Here’s Anders:

“They need to talk to somebody that they really admire, a person that is doing something in a way that they would like to eventually be able to do. Have this person help you identify what it is that you might need to change in order to be able to do what that other person is doing. Interview that person about how they were able to do it, and then have that person help you identify what is it that you can’t do right now and what are the steps towards reaching that desired level of performance.”

The secret here is “mental representations.” You want to be able to clearly and specifically visualize the right way to do something in your head. This is what separates the experts from the chumps.

From Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

“What sets expert performers apart from everyone else is the quality and quantity of their mental representations. Through years of practice, they develop highly complex and sophisticated representations of the various situations they are likely to encounter in their fields… These representations allow them to make faster, more accurate decisions and respond more quickly and effectively in a given situation. This, more than anything else, explains the difference in performance between novices and experts.”

How good can those mental representations get? Top chess players can play blindfolded.

They can see the board in their mind’s eye. And Anders explains that they don’t even train to do this, with enough hours it just occurs naturally.

So you need a clear idea of what it is you’re trying to do, whether it’s playing an instrument or performing an appendectomy. The clearer your vision of it, the better you’ll be able to detect and correct mistakes. Here’s Anders:

“What a skilled musician does is think about what kind of experience they want to give the audience. Once you have an idea here about what it is that you want to produce, then you can now start working on trying to be able to generate that experience. That requires a representation about what it should sound like. Then, when you try to do it, you’re going to find that there are going to be differences between the representation and their performance. Those differences you can now focus on and eliminate. Successively, you’re going to be able to produce that music performance that sounds like what you had originally imaged.”

And you want to keep improving those mental representations as you learn, creating a clearer and clearer image of every detail.

(To learn the four rituals new neuroscience research says will make you happy, click here.)

Okay, you talked to someone who is better than you and you’ve got an image in your head of how to do things right. Now just do that over and over until you begin crying uncontrollably, right? Wrong…

Eric Barker: How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert


2) It’s Not “Try Harder”, It’s “Try Different”

Anders says the biggest problem most people have with getting better at something is that they’re not actually trying to get better at something.

Doing something over and over again does not necessarily make you better at it. If it did, we would all be excellent drivers. Repetition is not expertise.

To prove the point (and to scare the crap out of you) I’ll mention that this applies to doctors as well. Think your surgeon is better because he’s been doing this for 20 years? Nope. He’s probably worse.

From Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

“Research on many specialties shows that doctors who have been in practice for twenty or thirty years do worse on certain objective measures of performance than those who are just two or three years out of medical school. It turns out that most of what doctors do in their day-to-day practice does nothing to improve or even maintain their abilities; little of it challenges them or pushes them out of their comfort zones.”

To improve, you need to get out of your comfort zone. Anders says this is one of the most critical things to remember. Mindlessly going through the motions does not improve performance.

When you try to get better at something is it fun? Yes? Congratulations, you’re doing it dead wrong.

Anders cites a study where they talked to singers after practice. Who was happy? The amateurs. The experts were pushing themselves. It was hard. And they were tired afterwards, not elated.

Dan Coyle says you only want to be succeeding in 50-80% of your attempts. Less than that and you’ll get frustrated. More than that and you’re not pushing yourself.

And you want to be working on your weak points. That’s how you get better.

From Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

“First, figure out exactly what is holding you back. What mistakes are you making, and when? Push yourself well outside of your comfort zone and see what breaks down first. Then design a practice technique aimed at improving that particular weakness. Once you’ve figured out what the problem is, you may be able to fix it yourself, or you may need to go to an experienced coach or teacher for suggestions.”

And your goals need to be specific. Don’t say, “I want to be better at business.” Say, “I want to get better at engaging the audience at the beginning of my presentations.”

(To learn how to be happier and more successful, click here.)

So you’ve accumulated the knowledge on what’s right, what you’re doing wrong and what you need to do to get better. And that’s where most people breathe a sigh of relief. And then they fail miserably. Here’s what’s missing…

Eric Barker: New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy


3) It’s About Doing, Not Knowing

You’ve read half this blog post. Are you half of an expert now? No.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that knowing equals doing. It doesn’t.

Watching a lot of football does not make you a great quarterback. 60 years of sitcoms hasn’t made people funnier.

From Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

“When you look at how people are trained in the professional and business worlds, you find a tendency to focus on knowledge at the expense of skills. The main reasons are tradition and convenience: it is much easier to present knowledge to a large group of people than it is to set up conditions under which individuals can develop skills through practice.”

Once you have the knowledge, you need to focus on building the skills. Remember the three F’s:

    1    Focus

    2    Feedback

    3    Fix it

You need to concentrate on having your execution match your mental representation. Then you need objective feedback on how well you performed. Then you need to analyze what you did wrong and how to do it better.

From Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

“Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress.”

(To learn the schedule that the most successful people follow every day, click here.)

So you know the right system for improving any skill. But a lot of people might say, “I’m not a violinist or an athlete. This won’t help me in my career.” Wrong…


4) Study The Past To Have A Better Future

Sometimes feedback isn’t fast. And this is a big problem for most jobs you want to get better at. Only getting an annual review turns 10,000 hours into something more like 10,000 years.

Anders says doctors can improve their skills by looking at older x-rays where the patient’s outcome is already established. Here’s Anders:

“One way that you could actually train this more effectively is to have x-rays for old patients where they now know what the correct diagnosis was, and now you can guess these diagnoses and get immediate feedback. That turns out to be a very effective way of actually improving performance, where you can now, maybe in an afternoon, encounter and get as much feedback as somebody might accumulate over a year or even longer.”

Look at examples of work that has already been evaluated. Can you detect the errors? Or what was done well? This is a good way to develop your mental muscles and improve your skills when feedback is scarce or slow.

When’s the best time to do the work needed to get better? First thing in the morning, when you’re fresh. Here’s Anders:

“Often it’s ideal to make that the first activity of the day. Then you can basically move over and do whatever else you need to do. I think that constraint of for how long you can actually sustain this deliberate practice, where you’re really attending 100% and stretching yourself to really change, that that time is actually limited.”

(To learn how to get people to like you — from an FBI behavior expert — click here.)

Okay, let’s round up what we’ve learned about learning and get the happy secret to staying motivated…

Eric Barker: New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Be More Successful


Sum Up

Here’s what Anders says can make you an expert:

    •    Get Help: Find a mentor who can help you develop that image in your head of the best way to do something.

    •    It’s Not “Try Harder”, It’s “Try Different”: Design specific activities to address your weak points.

    •    It’s About Doing, Not Knowing: Remember the three F’s: Focus, Feedback, Fix it.

    •    Study The Past To Have A Better Future: Find examples that have been judged and quiz yourself.

Don’t worry; you do not have to be a genius to become an expert at most things. In fact, Anders says it might be an advantage not to be a genius.

When elite chess players were studied, the ones with lower IQ’s often worked harder and then did better because they felt they were at a disadvantage.

From Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

“…among these young, elite chess players, not only was a higher IQ no advantage, but it seemed to put them at a slight disadvantage. The reason, the researchers found, was that the elite players with lower IQ’s tended to practice more, which improved their chess game to the point that they played better than the high-IQ elite players.”

Expertise takes a lot of hard, solitary work. That can be difficult to get motivated for. But this is where friends come in. Surround yourself with people who love and support you.

From Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise:

“One of the best ways to create and sustain social motivation is to surround yourself with people who will encourage and support and challenge you in your endeavors.”

When I interviewed Yale professor Nicholas Christakis, he talked about just how important the people who love us are in the process of achieving our goals:

“It’s very important for people to understand that when they make a positive change in their lives it doesn’t just affect them. It affects everyone they know and many of the people that those people know and many of the people that those people in turn know. If you make a positive change in your life it actually ripples through the social fabric and comes to benefit many other people. This recognition that we are all connected and that in our connectedness we affect each other’s lives I think is a very fundamental and moving observation of our humanity.”

There’s an old saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I believe it.


Conditioning VS Improvement by Weston Sprott



Hello Weston Sprott,

First I must tell you how much I love your site. The playing tips section has some real gold nuggets, I look forward to your further comments.

My question for you: Has your playing changed much since a few years ago when you joined the orchestra? Are you simply refining the skills/technique that won you the job or have you since discovered a more efficient way of making music on the horn? I’m curious to hear what you have to say about keeping in shape vs. refining technique vs. learning new or different approaches that might replace the old.

Also, just got your cd and am really digging it. The Casterede in particular I keep coming back to.





First of all thanks for the compliments and thanks for submitting your question. Hopefully, more people will feel comfortable sparking conversation as well!

To answer your question, my playing has definitely changed a lot since I joined the orchestra. Obviously, back when I won the job six years ago, I had a lot of things going well enough to find myself in the winner’s circle. However, I think that just means I exhibited fewer bad habits than everyone else over that course of a few days and I had good fortune on my side as well. My playing is constantly evolving and improving. Playing in the MET Orchestra and having the opportunities afforded to someone who plays in such a great orchestra has opened my eyes to a ton of things that I can improve. The fact of the matter is there is always a lot to learn. As the old adage goes… the more you know, the less you know.

I am definitely refining the skills that won me the job in addition to learning how to play more efficiently. The basics of rhythm, pitch, tone and phrasing are things we can always work to improve. The details may get finer, but there is still work to be done. Anyone who says otherwise is either arrogant, no longer improving, or more likely, both! As for efficiency, playing at the MET has forced me to be a more efficient player. I think very few people can truly understand the amount of playing/work that is required of the musicians in the MET Orchestra. This past week for me has included two performances of Puccini’s Tosca, two performances of Berg’s Wozzeck, one performance of Strauss’ Capriccio and a Carnegie performance of Schoenberg’s Five Pieces and Brahms’ Second Symphony. That doesn’t include the 14 hours of rehearsal. Next week has 15 hours of Walkure rehearsal in addition to more Wozzeck, Tosca, and Capriccio performances. Throw in 8 regular weekly students and a couple of drop-ins, many of whom would like to have you demonstrate the more difficult passages they are working on, and you’ve got a nice 7 day work week. Did I mention we were playing Rheingold the week before?!! For those of us who like play recitals in addition to a schedule that regularly looks like this, learning how to be efficient is paramount.

During my first few years in the orchestra, I constantly found myself dead tired and playing on my teeth. As a result, I was forced to find a way to be more efficient so that I can have a long career that will hopefully be more free of injury and chronic fatigue. After a few bouts of stress, a couple of books about marathon and cycling training (to learn about people who routinely put a lot of hours on their musculature), and a handful of performances that I felt were compromised by extreme fatigue later, I have found myself with a completely different practice routine and set of equipment than I had as a student. I still haven’t gotten it all figured out, but I get closer and closer every day. Most importantly, I have a far greater understanding of how to play efficiently and correctly than I ever did before, and I find that knowledge base getting larger each and every day. Having the information I possess now makes me wonder how I ever achieved the things I did when my knowledge base was so limited. I suppose ambition and a lot of hours in a practice room can make up for a lot!

As for keeping in shape vs. refining technique… This is a different battle for each and every person. It surely varies depending on your school or work schedule and on your own body’s capacity for fatigue. During weeks the like one I described above, I don’t need to do anything to stay in shape. The job will keep you in shape. I simply put in 45 minutes or so of long tones, lip slurs, scales and arpeggios and save my chops for work. During weeks when the schedule is more reasonable, I have time for an additional hour or two per day on top of that mandatory 45 minutes of bare bones basics. That extra time is usually focused on solos and etudes. I’ve also come to realize that there are different times for certain types of growth. There are points in the season when I’m in recital preparation and other weeks like the one I described above where you are simply keeping your head above water. I find the summertime, when the MET is on break, to be my best time to make major changes in my playing approach. I’m actually afforded the time and opportunity to experiment with new things without worrying about paying the price in performance if they don’t work. If you’re a self-motivated person, being able to practice without being concerned about what’s coming up tomorrow can be a very positive and liberating thing! The summer also gives me the chance to put the horn in the closet for 10 days and hit the reset button. That’s quite helpful too!

As for learning new approaches… I’m always learning new approaches. I regularly read through the traditional trombone geek sites and sift through what I think is sensible and what’s not. Some of it’s useful and some of it is laughable. I also look through the webpages of great players just like you do in hopes that they will give me some food for thought. I really love Ian Bousfield’s new website and I think Jay Friedman’s monthly articles are generally spot on. Check them out if you haven’t already. I also attend a lot of performances in search of inspiration and a learning opportunity. After Wozzeck the other night, I raced to the east side of town to see John Fedchock’s quartet play and it was fantastic. I regularly visit Jazz at Lincoln Center to see my heros Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon and their friends, and I’m a regular at Carnegie Hall to see the world’s great orchestras on tour. Listening to all of that gives you plenty to think about when you practice!