Welcome to the blog devoted to brass playing and classical music. A blog by two brass teachers: Matt Hurley and Doug Battson.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Burn Out

Recently I had to participate in an intervention.

Let me give you the background. I've had this student for about a month. He's not yet in high school, but has amazing skills and tons of raw talent. Fantastic tone quality, excellent range, and a fine sense of musicianship. The problem: it wasn't much "fun" playing anymore.

I asked him what his practice/rehearsal schedule was like and was told that he was playing between 45 minutes to an hour every day. Without exception.

If you ask highschoolers that question, you're lucky to get 15 minutes a day.

This student's father is very "jazzed" about his son's talent and the pressure was there for him to keep at it. Which is good to a point, but my fear was that this student was facing burn-out. And that would have been a tragic waste of talent, so I made sure to let everybody know that it is okay to have a life too.

Practicing is important, but so is enjoying it. When it becomes a chore, it's time to stop looking at the clock. How long the practice session is isn't near as important as the quality of that seesion. I'm a believer that 90% of brass playing is mental, and you have to be in the proper mindset in order to achieve success. With maturity and experience, the trumpet player can perform at peak conditions for a longer duration of time; and developing that skill is what practicing is all about.

The problem with clock watching is that it isn't results oriented. And that is the key characteristic of a successful practice session.


Blogger Doug Battson said...

I agree with Matt. When I was in college, I got to the point where I was being pressured to put more time in the practice room on a daily basis. There are only so many hours in a day. With all of the classes that I was taking, with all of the ensembles that I was in, and with having to work to pay my way through school, there sometimes just wasn't enough hours in the day to be able to practice the amount that the professors wanted me to. I am a better player now than I was back then, probably thanks in part to the amount of time that I did put in, but it got to the point were it wasn't fun anymore. Music is supposed to be fun.

I have a 68 year old student who never played an instrument before in his life. However, he always enjoyed music. When he retired, he picked up a horn and started taking lessons. He does this for his own enjoyment. That is what music is about, enjoyment for the performer and the listener. I'll take a dozen students like that any day of the week.

30/8/04 4:10 PM


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