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Practice, Do You? Part 2-3

Dom Minasi By

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I practice my horn from time to time, but my practice involves working in other ways. Usually my standard practice involves music given to me by other composers, especially if I am going to play their music, and especially if it is notated. The last really difficult wood-shedding I did was to play a concert in Colorado with the young, gifted alto saxophonist/composer Aakash Mittal. He is finishing up a residency in Calcutta as we speak, and his music reflects his Indian roots. It is difficult music for me because it is full of runs and notes using different modes and odd time signatures. I had to learn to feel the music and beat and sound as I went along. I'm not sure how well I succeeded. I felt like a first-time cornet student.

I consider that composing on other instruments and listening exercises are essential practice. It gives me another perspective which is important for garnering freshness and creativity.

I usually begin with simple patterns, which come entirely from listening to myself at the moment. I will repeat a sequence of improvised notes until I feel that it's time to change one note, then another and another, until the sequence, pacing, rhythm, and tone have changed. This was taught to me by the great Jimmy Lyons.

Matt Lavelle

I have no choice but to practice because I play two very different horns in trumpet and alto clarinet. I have a full time retail job plus I'm taking two classes in school plus 2 yoga classes a week and gigs plus 2 students and a girlfriend plus my blog, but I still make as much time as possible which is often 1-2 hours a day no matter what.

Trumpet is always first. Trumpet is the foundation for cornet, fluglehorn, and pocket trumpet and I play them all. Trumpet is the most unforgiving horn in the world because the embouchure requires daily maintenance. Half of my practice is keeping my chops intact. It's been this way for 25 years and with slow progress it's taken me the entire time to get to where I actually want to be. My progress has been hindered by a full time job the entire time. I wish I had money in the bank but as always I subsist week to week. Looking to change that.

I gave up Bass clarinet for the time being because of these time constraints. I gave all my bass chops to the alto clarinet. I'm very focused on getting a real clarinet sound as taught to me by Sabir Mateen. I have a sound on this horn that has been cast aside by just about everyone and I'm not backing down from trying to establish it's legitimacy as a bonafide member of the great jazz horns.

After chops I practice speaking my own musical language in every key. I work on airflow, hot Yoga has changed everything. I take pieces of my favorite melodies, change them into every key and then change the note of resolution on a quest to be more lyrical on my own terms. I studied with Ornette Coleman and Harmolodics is the backbone of everything I do. Another reason to have an Eb horn like the alto, that's part of OC's master plan. At times I will practice playing songs and playing changes, but it has to be one's that I enjoy like Ellington and Strays. Monk on a fairly regular basis. After a few rounds of chords I get bored and have to open it up.

Joe McPhee

I do still practice, but not nearly as much as I should or need to. Normally I try to keep my chops up in order to get to ideas with as little thought as possible, thinking and consideration of choices and or consequences slow things down. The brass instruments require the most time and practice. A day off of the horn usually requires a week to get up to steam. I practice Long tones and ballads. Anybody can play a million notes faster than greased shit (if you'll pardon the gross and way too graphic expression and catch attention, but you can't hide in a ballad. In a ballad, you are totally exposed and naked.

Dave Douglas

I practice every day. My Laurie Frink routine takes 2 hours if I have the time! Then I practice the music I am writing and the music I have to learn. Writing is part of practicing for me, extending concepts and exploring curiosity. Also exercising other concepts related to my practice in every facet.

Jack Walrath

I still try to practice everyday. My routine comes out to between 2—3 hours a day. 2) I have an extensive warm-up. I mainly practice music. I do a lot of play-along's for a couple of hours. When I practice long tones I also am circular breathing.

Paul Smoker

I still practice 1.5-to 2-hours/day maintenance, and 4-5 hours close to a gig or concert. I work on fundamentals (trumpet players will know these sources):

1. From Schlossberg Daily Drills & Technical Studies—long tones, lip slurs & trills, extreme dynamics (ppp to fff), ranges exercises, etc.

2. From Clarke Technical Studies—1 to 4 complete sections extending into both "above high 'C'" and pedal registers, varying speed and dynamics.

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