The past couple of weeks have been tumultuous to say the least. Finding time to practice was difficult but I did manage to put in around 40 minutes daily except for one day when I didn’t play at all. Just one day. Well you’d think I hadn’t picked up the horn in months by the way I played for several days after that one day of rest.
I think I’ve discovered a trend. If I back off my usual two hours of practice per day, or heaven forbid, skip a day, I play poorly for several days after. Then I get a bit better than I was before my lapse in practicing. When I read my practice notes from way back I noticed that every time I missed a day or more of practice I suffered for it. What’s hard to understand is how some of my fellow band members manage to play quite well – decent tone, only a few missed notes, etc. – each week at rehearsal without picking up their horn during the week. They walk in, toot a few notes as a warmup if they aren’t late, and get through an entire rehearsal. And this is band so we play non-stop for the whole rehearsal.
I was talking to my horn teacher last week about this and we thought this might be a ‘the more you play, the more you need to play’ problem. In other words, the muscles in my chops are used to playing a couple of hours a day every day and consequently, need to be used a couple hours a day. This is different than the typical weight training schedule of working one group of muscles one day and resting them the next day. For most things rest is usually helpful. This doesn’t seem to be true for me when it comes to playing the horn. Do any of you experience anything like this? Will I get to a point where I can take a day off and not pay for it with several days of poor horn playing?
My schedule eases off after an orchestra concert tonight so I should be able to practice everyday and stick to a plan. When I have band rehearsals I don’t practice for more than 40 minutes, if that, in order to save my chops for the rehearsal. I don’t have rehearsals again until the first week in January. It will be interesting to see if several weeks of very consistent practicing will make a noticeable improvement.