A Survey of Daily Routines
By George Palton, Marshall University
In February 2004 a total of 150 surveys were mailed to professional tuba and euphonium players in the United States. A majority of the participants are current college professors, prominent freelance musicians, and musicians in professional ensembles such as military bands and orchestras. First, questions ranged from personal information such as instrument, current job, and their general practice habits. Then, specific questions were asked about their daily routine habits. Questions in this section focused on what specific components of tuba and euphonium playing they focused on. They were asked the likelihood of focusing on one particular aspect of playing, and if they did, how they did it, how long they did it, and in what order did they structure it. The respondents were also given a chance to write in detail about any of these things if they so desired. By November 2004, a total of 47 people have responded.
The results provided some worthwhile insight into the practice habits of many successful tuba and euphonium players. Many of them stressed a need for a consistent routine that still allowed for flexibility to meet the individual’s current performing demands. For most of the components isolated in this survey, a majority of the respondents indicated that they work on them every day or almost every day. This shows that most of the professionals surveyed aim for consistency in their daily warm-up. Most of the respondents indicated that they work on a very standard list of components such as breathing exercises, mouthpiece buzzing, long tones, lip slurs, low range, high range, scales, and tonguing exercises. Many of those who were surveyed stressed the importance of using actual music instead of exercises as often as possible. Also, many advocated the need for regular sight-reading practice as well as to actively listen to music more as a part of a daily routine.
|A. W. Lehman, U.S. Marine Band, “President’s Own”
Doug Whitten, Pittsburg State University (Kansas)
Dr. Mark Thompson, N.W. St. University Louisiana
Jerry Young, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
Joseph Skillen, Louisiana State University
Bill Keck, Constitution Brass Quintet
John Stevens, University of Wisconsin
Steve Lamb, U.S. Coast Guard Band
Steven Perry, Hartford/Springfield (Mass.) Symphony
Michael Forbes, Illinois State University
Steven Winteregg, Dayton Philharmonic
J Eric Paul, Freelance Musician
Joe Dollard, U.S. Navy Band, Washington, D.C.
Torrey Lawrence, University of Idaho
Sy Brandon, York (Penn.) Symphony Orchestra
Douglas Hunt, Orchestra/Quintet Musician
Scott Cameron, U.S. Army Field Band
John Cradler, U.S. Marine Band, “President’s Own”
|Jas Linford, Freelance Musician
Kyle Turner, Freelance Musician
Ron Bishop, Cleveland Orchestra
Michael Grose, University of Oregon
Hank Feldman, Freelance/F.A.M.E. Foundation
Joseph Williams, Amateur Musician
Ben Pierce, University of Arkansas
Fritz Kaenzig, University of Michigan
John Mueller, University of Memphis
Marc Dickman, University of Northern Florida
Skip Gray, University of Kentucky
Gene Pokorny, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Michael G. Know, Freelance Musician
Joanna Hersey, Freelance Musician
Neal Corwell, U.S. Army Band/ Soloist, Washington, D.C.
Kelly Diamond, U.S. Navy Band, Washington, D.C.
Floyd Cooley, Retired, San Francisco Symphony/College Professor
Willis Traphgan, Orchestral Musician
Additional 10 Anonymous Participants
Daily Routines Survey Results
Section 1: Personal Information
1. Which of the following best describes you?
2. What is your main instrument?
3. What type of instrument do you regularly practice? (Tuba Players Only)
4. Euphonium Players: Do you regularly practice the baritone?
5. In an average week, how many days do you practice?
6. How many hours do you average in a day?
7. Do you regularly practice your secondary instrument?
8. How many days a week do you do a daily routine?
9. On average, how long do you spend on your daily routine?
Section 2: Daily Routine Habits
How often do you do each of the following?
1. Breathing Exercises
2. Mouthpiece Buzzing
3. Long Tones
4. Three or Five Note Lip Slurs
5. Flexibility Lip Slurs
6. Low Register Exercises
7. High Register Exercises
8. Single Tonguing Exercises
9. Multiple Tonguing Exercises
10. Other Technique Exercises
11. Lip Trill Exercises
13. Phrasing/Melody Exercises
14. A secondary daily routine
Section 3: Conclusions, Observations, and Quotes of Interest
Floyd Cooley- “Always practice in front of a mirror watching for unusual cues…”
Kelly Diamond- “I practice scales everyday everyway. You can do anything and everything with scales.” “It is important to remember a daily routine is not set in stone. It must be flexible to accommodate changes in yourself or your circumstance.”
“Your routine should be like home. Use it as a reference to gauge your needs, weaknesses and strengths. Also, use it to right the ship when something isn’t working as well as you think it should.”
Gene Pokorny- “It is very important to listen a lot more to music then we regularly do. To imitate great Artists is one the best ways to learn.”
Torrey Lawrence- “We do a Monday, Wednesday, Friday studio warm-up, it is great to do this in a group to keep it fun and build studio togetherness.”
Steven Perry- “I went to a master class in grad school with Pinkus Zuckerman (viola/violin), and he said a survey was taken from players in the top 20 U.S. orchestras. The number one reason that helped them get a big gig was that they all had a regimented warm-up that they did religiously.
Other Notable Conclusions:
The top non-tuba/euphonium method books cited were the Clarke and Schlossberg books.
Many of those who were surveyed advocated regular sight-reading practice.
Many of those who were surveyed advocated using real music as often as possible to focus on these elements of playing.
Most focused on breathing, buzzing, long-tones, and flexibility early in their routine.
A majority of those who were surveyed practice 4 or more days a week.
A majority of those who were surveyed practice 1-3 hours a day.
A majority of those who were surveyed do a daily routine 4 or more days a week.
A majority of those who were surveyed spend between 15-60 minutes on their daily routine.
For most of the components isolated in this survey a majority of the respondents indicated they work on them every day or almost every day. This shows that most of the professionals surveyed aim for consistency in their daily warm-up.
Overall, the conclusion this survey brings is that the standard items stressed by many teachers for improving their playing and their students are items focused on consistently by professional musicians.
Any questions should be directed to author. Thank you to all who have taken the time to participate.
This study was conducted as part of an indepedent study with the author’s doctoral advisor, Dr. Skip Gray, at the University of Kentucky. Funding was provided by the university’s School of Music.
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