Band rehearsal does not equal practice

Well, my ten days of really good horn playing has come to an end. Bummer. I really can’t play a thing today. I’m trying to figure out why.

Was it band rehearsal? I had band rehearsals both Monday and Tuesday evenings. On Monday the rehearsal was a little over two hours and on Tuesday about an hour and a half. My chops felt okay after both rehearsals. The previous Monday I practiced for an hour in the morning and really didn’t have the chops for the two hour rehearsal that night. I decided that I wouldn’t practice before the rehearsals this time but I got to them early enough to do a warm-up.

When I picked up my horn this morning things seemed okay at first. I do low register arpeggios first and they were good. Nice rich sound, good slurs, clear notes. It was when I got to the middle and high register that I had an inkling that things weren’t up to snuff. The arpeggios starting at middle C felt stiff and lacked tone. I moved on to exercise 1 in the Singer book and those long steady notes just sounded flat – not intonation flat but tone flat. Not a good sign. I took my usual twenty minute break after the Singer exercise.

Starting up again, I moved on to Kopprash. Hmm. Things are going downhill fast. Suffice it to say that the rest of my morning’s horn playing continued moving in the wrong direction. I started to work on scales in the Pares book figuring that at least I could work on those but no such luck.

So was it the lack of practice before the band rehearsals? Possibly. (Hopefully?) I play 4th in both bands so although I play continuously for almost the entire rehearsal I play in a very limited range.  Tons of off beats between middle C and F. Occasionally there will be a melodic line or two and maybe I’ll see a top space Eb. Once in a blue moon there might be a G. I’m guessing but playing within one octave for hours may stress ones chops in very different ways than a good practice session would. Again, this is just a guess. There could be no reason what so ever for my bad day other than it’s just a bad day. They happen.

I have a lesson tomorrow and I will ask my teacher about this. Maybe she’ll have some ideas. If I’m playing poorly again tomorrow maybe she’ll see something that I’ve started doing wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

So far, I’m not overreacting about this. I’m not going to change mouthpieces or horns or add gadgets or buy new method books describing new embouchures or… (insert any new fangled thing you want here.) It wasn’t that long ago that I would have leaped to the conclusion that I needed some new piece of equipment or needed to make some drastic change. I’d like to think I’m maturing – at least horn wise.

Nocturno –>

One thought on “Band rehearsal does not equal practice

  1. Band rehearsals do take a lot from your embouchure. I think it’s the constant playing in one octave or another. So, be kind to yourself … find a pre-rehearsal warmup that works for you. I used to do my entire warmup routine before rehearsal but found that sometimes it was too much, so now have cut it down and stop when I feel loose and relaxed.
    I try to think just one thing during rehearsals … air.
    And, cool down with a few easy notes (thinking air, relaxation) before break, and definitely immediately after rehearsal. Don’t just put that horn away. An athlete never stops a workout without a cool down, and neither should a brass player.
    The day after a long rehearsal I relax into playing again with some easy melodic etudes, nothing high, nothing too low, and try to never be frustrated. It’s a process, and there will not be positive results every single day.
    I enjoy your blog and am happy that you found a good teacher.


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