Dr. Carrillo's Trumpet Blog

This page is targeted at my trumpet students here at James Madison University and any other trumpet students or enthusiasts. I hope you find something helpful to your path here.

The Art and Craft of Practice

The Process...

How we get better on our instruments is a beautiful combination of the wonderfully simple and staggeringly complex.  As my entry title suggests, our practice is a combination of a highly artistic cognitive process and a highly skilled motor-kinesthetic process.  These two processes live sympathetically with one another and are both essential for our improvement on the instrument.  The combination of artistic and kinesthetic is not a zero-sum game.  That is to say both are important as we develop and improve on the instrument.  

At it’s most essential core, our goal in the practice room is to create expert habits within the context of artistic expression.  The more you practice, the more habits you create, good or bad.  So as we go into the practice room, let’s take care in considering the expert artistic habits we are creating and reinforcing.


Some expert habits I’m thinking about these days include:

1.  Think musically and let the technique follow

2.  Let the air flow through the instrument like a bow across a stringed instrument

3.  Keep body aligned for maximum efficiency

4.  Balance the air through the aperture

5. Sing, sing, sing, sing through the horn

6. Listen to great musicians


Some Practical Tips for Effective Improvement...

1.  Have a set of goals for the week/semester/year

2.  Create measurable objectives to help achieve those goals 

3.  Plan your practice sessions intelligently  

4. Have a plan before you enter the practice room

5.  Mistakes are fine!  (They are wonderful opportunities for improvement)

6.  Focus on the habits you are creating


Now what...

I hope these thoughts and ideas will spark discussion in our lessons and studio class.  We are all students.  I certainly don’t feel like any sort of master who will bestow unlimited genius upon you, but I have been on this trumpet journey for a long time and I can help facilitate your personal path of musical development.

Talk about this with each other….

Talk about this with me….

Ask questions about this of guest artists…

Be curious...

Question everything...