The 50 Percent Rule for Effective Practicing

posted in: YouTube Feature | 0

by Eddie Lewis

A YouTube Video Redo

Here’s a new video to replace an old one. I originally did a video on the 50 Percent Rule for a website called Trumpet Live. That website folded and I ended up reposting my the video on my YouTube channel.

The Trumpet Live website was a pretty big honor to me. I was about the only no name on the roster. It was a great opportunity to have my video included with work by some of the biggest names in the trumpet educators world.

The problem was that the original 50 Percent Rule video was my very first instructional, trumpet tutorial video. Not only was it not my best work, but it was also not consistent, stylistically, with the rest of my videos. That’s why I decided to do another version of the video.

The 50 Percent Rule

Simply put, the 50 Percent Rule says that at least 50 Percent of your practice time should be spent practicing music, not exercises.

Alex Practicing Trumpet with the 50 Percent Rule.

The 50 Percent Rule seems simple enough. If you have two hours to practice, at least one hour of that should be spent practicing music. Stated conversely, your exercises on that day should be less than one hour of your practice time.

If you only practice an hour, then at least half an hour should be spent practicing music.

Simple enough, right?

For the most part, it is simple. The problem is that the 50 Percent Rule is less effective if you are not practicing properly, but we will get to that later in this blog post.

Why We Practice this Way

I go into more detail in the video, but reason why we use the fifty percent rule is because great trumpet playing requires us to think and do more than fifty things at once. This is a feat that is impossible for us to “manhandle” with our conscious minds. To become great trumpet players, we need to delegate each one of those mental tasks to our subconscious minds.

Our subconscious minds are far more powerful than our conscious minds. It is said that we can only think of one thing at a time with our conscious minds. And even if you are remarkable enough to be able to think two thoughts at the same time (without merging them into a single thought – which is something I’ve toyed with and have had some success with it), you are still a far cry away from fifty!

The purpose of practicing exercises is to focus on specific aspects of trumpet playing or music by removing all distractions from that one aspet. A great example of this is long tones. These are exercises that remove all technique, which gives you an opportunity to focus only on your sound.

By focusing on one thing at a time, you push that one thing deeper into your subconscious. The more you do this, the deeper into the subconscious it goes and the easier it is to do that thing more naturally, from the subconscious, as a second nature effort. When this happens, you can do that one thing AND all the other necessities, too, at the same time.

In contrast, when you are practicing music, you are practicing doing all of those automatic things at once. I like to say that playing music is like juggling over fifty items. It’s just that you are juggling them with your mind, not your hands. We need to practice juggling to get good at it.

Someone who doesn’t practice music doesn’t get THAT specific type of practice. If all you practice is exercises, then you never learn how to juggle the fifty thoughts. If you never practice music, you never get used to “trusting” that the subconscious can actually handle all of those tasks.

Which brings us to the issue of proper practice…

Proper Trumpet Practice

Without proper practice techniques, most of what I’m saying here is irrelevant. For example, if you don’t practice your exercises properly, then those tasks cannot be reliably sourced from your subconscious. Remember, garbage in, garbage out, right? If something is input into your subconscious mind with errors, then errors are what you can count on in performance.

The same is true for improper practicing of music. If all you do is “try to get the music right”, then your subconscious mind will be filled with errors and all this stuff we are talking about here no longer applies to you.

So, you see, the 50 Percent Rule implies that you know how to practice correctly and that you are diligent in following those kinds of practice procedures. For trumpet players with no self control or who haven’t learned proper ways to practice the trumpet, the benefits of the 50 Percent Rule will be minimal.

The One Range Book

The fifty percent rule is part of the One Range book. I believe I go into greater detail in the video, but in a much less organized fashion. The One Range book is a summary of my overall strategy to Chop building on the trumpet. That’s why I call it, One Range: A Trumpet Chops Strategy.

The 50 Percent Rule is a very important part of the One Range strategy. Without the 50 Percent Rule, a lot of our expectations for the One Range method might never be achieved.


One Range Trumpet Chops Strategy Guide

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