Are we good learners?

Brass players love learning, mmm hang on, let me re-word that - Brass players love talking about learning. 

Learning is something that brass players love to talk about, books, teachers, workshops, you name it, we talk about it. But the sad reality is that sometimes thats all we do, talk about it. 

I travel a lot around the country, and spend a bit of time talking to individuals and bands about ways in which we can improve as brass players. Now, its important to note that 15 years ago when I talked about breathing and buzzing exercises I would get a similar look as if I had said I was trying out for the All Blacks. People looked at me like I was all sorts of crazy, and yet its the least crazy thing about playing a brass instrument. Now-a-days, its almost worse, I get a look of agreement, a look that tells me that they are going to go home and do these exercises everyday for the rest of their lives…but the reality is they wont. The reality is that we love hearing the information, but the implementation of the information is a whole other can of worms. 

When I join a new gym, an instructor tells me what I need to do to lose weight, to get fitter, and to meet my goals. I am drunk on the information, and love the idea that this is going to change my life - a week later I have stopped doing the exercises and am back doing the same old stuff I have been doing for years, and doesn’t work. 


I don't want to sound negative, well I do, but I don't want us to feel all is lost! I want us to realise that sometimes the information is only the start, it doesn't make us better players unless we do it over and over again. 

The internet is one of the most incredible sources of information and motivation we could wish for. Every week I sit down and play my warm ups at Alessi Music Studio alongside Joe Alessi, Principal Trombone of the New York Phil, and I do breathing exercises with videos by Trumpet guru Kristian Steenstrup in Scandinavia - all online and only click of a button away. 

Kristian Steenstrup's breathing regime.

Kristian Steenstrup's breathing regime.

We need to be more than just information gatherers, we need to be information processors. I have been to a tonne of classes, lessons, workshops, where I have been given information that didn’t work for me. I tried it, I persisted with it, and then I realised it wasn’t for me - thats fine. The key to this process is processing the information, and persisting with it, not for a day or a week, but for months - thats how we see benefits and progress. 

So - if we are going to change, then lets do it together. I am going to post 7 blogs in 7 days, with exercises on a range of topics, starting tomorrow. If you have questions - ask. If you have problems - let me know. Most importantly, lets change our practice methods, lets be better players and better learners, because learning is not something that stops, its a never ending quest to be better everyday.

And for the record, I am going to start a new gym regime tomorrow, and try and stick with it!