Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

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obreitys
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Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by obreitys » Thu May 14, 2020 8:54 am

So I play trombone (tenor), tuba, and cornet on a regular basis, and have found that it's best to stick to one horn a day (for me at least). For example, when I practice trombone in the morning, then try to practice tuba later in the day, I find my tone to be very thin, tight, not as full-sounding, even with several hours' rest in between.

In general, I've found that it's easier for me to "tighten up" than it is to "loosen up," so I started moving through a progression with my instruments, going from the biggest to the smallest, i.e. tuba to trombone, or trombone to cornet. But even with this method, my tone is still not as good on the second instrument as when solely practicing that instrument. It's frustrating because I know I can sound better on my secondary instruments.

Is this an aperture issue? Anybody have any tips for practicing multiple instruments in a single day?
Redthunder
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by Redthunder » Thu May 14, 2020 9:14 am

I also find it easier to go from big to small, rather than the reverse, in my own experience.

A practice that I've adopted that I have found to benefit my success is adopting a similar warmup for each instrument, usually starting in the middle ranges (middle B flat for example), and expanding outward in either direction, high and low. Additionally, starting even higher in my range on the larger instruments often results in a much easier transition when I switch to the smaller instruments. So even on bass trombone and tuba my first note of the day might sometimes be high B-flat, or F above middle B-flat.

I also try to avoid playing excessively loud on any of the instruments I practice, but especially the larger instruments. I'm not a stellar bass trombone player by any estimation, but I've found that being very deliberate about how I approach that instrument in particular has had enormous benefits across the board for my playing.
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TimBrown
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by TimBrown » Thu May 14, 2020 9:52 am

I imagine there is a myriad of ways to approach this, depending upon the player, etc.

What works for me is a formulated warm-up consisting of three keys; two of which reside in the middle range:
1) Flexibility
2) Double-tonguing
3) Range (tenor high; bass low)

If I can take 10 minutes to warm up and get those three keys working pretty well, then I know I have a reasonable chance of performing adequately. There's just something about those three keys that - for me - "set" my chops right.
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Burgerbob
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by Burgerbob » Thu May 14, 2020 12:49 pm

I keep it random. In real life (still a ways off for us working musicians, sadly) you don't get to choose.

Some days I'll pick one horn. Most days I'll play two, in no particular order. Some days I'll play all of them. I try not to make any of it perfectly routine.
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TriJim
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by TriJim » Thu May 14, 2020 2:21 pm

I am forced to alternate instruments/days. Tenor Trombone / Swiss Alphorn

Playing tenor with a 5G (~25 mm ID) causes fatigue that limits the duration and high range when playing Alphorn with a 17.5 mm (about French Horn size) MP. Likewise, practicing the alphorn leads to rapid embouchure fatigue on the trombone. I can play both on the same day, but fatigue and loss of range leads to diminishing return on my practice time.

I could play Alphorn with a 24 mm MP, but then I lose many of the notes required for middle and high range playing (on the Alphorn).

I have settled on an every other day practice cycle which allows sufficient embouchure flexibility and recovery to maintain high range with the small mouthpiece and stamina on the larger trombone mouthpiece.
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by marccromme » Thu May 14, 2020 2:32 pm

The OPs challenge seems to be switching, so switching is maybe not what you should avoid, but practice. I play BB and EB tuba, and bass and tenor trombone. Usually, I warm up on one instrument for 15 min, grab another one for an additional 5 min warmup, then practice on that one. Inbetween I do some light playing, songs, or now piazolla tangos, where I study to the same song, but switch instrument every 5 min. The goal is to keep the music and flow go, across different instruments. I sight transpose to get stuff in my comfort range on each instrument, and just concentrate on sound and music. This way I trained to adapt to any mouthpiece size within 30 secs. Maybe you want to try this approach for a couple of weeks?
obreitys
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by obreitys » Thu May 14, 2020 3:15 pm

marccromme wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 2:32 pm
The OPs challenge seems to be switching, so switching is maybe not what you should avoid, but practice.
Fantastic idea! I never thought of this!
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Mv2541
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by Mv2541 » Thu May 14, 2020 10:32 pm

For me if I take just a couple seconds (<10) to buzz the new mouthpiece before switching it makes the switch infinitely easier. In the real world we obviously don't have that luxury, but unless it's a really fast change I like to put the different mouthpiece on my face and let my chops feel it out before I breathe and blow. The feeling of the bigger mouthpiece on my face tells my brain it's time to kick into 'bass bone mode', and the same in reverse. Granted my doubling was never anywhere as extreme as trumpet to tuba.
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Doubler
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by Doubler » Thu May 14, 2020 11:47 pm

Burgerbob wrote:
Thu May 14, 2020 12:49 pm
I keep it random. In real life (still a ways off for us working musicians, sadly) you don't get to choose.

Some days I'll pick one horn. Most days I'll play two, in no particular order. Some days I'll play all of them. I try not to make any of it perfectly routine.
Exactly.
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SimmonsTrombone
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by SimmonsTrombone » Fri May 15, 2020 4:32 am

In concerts, I frequently have to play bass trombone on one piece, then tuba on the next. I practice that way - both instruments, and occasionally tenor trombone, in each practice session.
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dershem
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by dershem » Sat May 23, 2020 9:07 am

How are you going to use them? If you only ever play one at a time, then practice one at a time. But if you get gigs wherfe you have to switch back and forth you need to practice doing that.
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torobone
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by torobone » Sat May 23, 2020 9:51 am

Interesting responses. Based on what I've read, my question is: how much is your mouthpiece required for your embouchure?

In my practice room, I have my 891Z and Xeno bass both beside my music stand. Depending on my mood, I pick one or both up and play, often alternating. My bass trumpet is handy in its open case. Pre-COVID, I played the 697Z, 891Z, 882GOR and bass in various groups every week. My regular range is F1 - F5 (edited, I can't count), with a note or two on each end that I practice.

To answer my questions above, I would say that my embouchure is well formed away from the horn. Of course I need to create a good seal to the mouthpiece, but otherwise I use little pressure against the mouthpiece. As such, it is easy to switch mouthpieces and instruments.

I am not trying to tell others what to do, but in 2007 I started on my current path after playing for 40 years.
Last edited by torobone on Tue May 26, 2020 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Basbasun
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by Basbasun » Sat May 23, 2020 12:40 pm

I have for many years practised the same music, scales broken chords etc on bass trombone tennor trombone tuba, switching around. Includes high on bass and low on tenor. It might take some time to find out how you embouchure works, then aplie that on all horns. Many years I also practise some on horn and trumpet, not today though.
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Re: Practicing Multiple Instruments in A Single Day

Post by imsevimse » Sat May 23, 2020 3:51 pm

For me as I learned to double I did the exact opposite. I started on the smallest mouthpiece and then switched to larger. In the beginning I could not play Alto after I had played bass trombone. I think in the beginning as you learn you need to find out what works for you. After a couple of years of switching I noticed that problem was gone and I could switch in any order.

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