How I Put Impossible Stuff Into My Warm-Up Routine

I clearly remember listening to Wynton Marsalis playing the cornet on his famous “Carnaval” album.

One of the pieces is Grand Russian Fantasia. One of the sections in this piece employs 32nd notes. Even a musical novice can listen to that and be intimidated.

All that to say, it goes really fast. So fast, that I remember thinking, “There’s no way I’ll ever be able to play that fast.”

I’m a 19 year old trumpet player at the time, just left home for the first time. I was the star trumpeter in high school, but now in the Army, I was getting a little taste of real life musicianship.

Well, I let that self-defeating thought linger inside of me for quite some time. After leaving the Army in 1998, I pursued non-musical things such as bible college, cleaning windows, cleaning up construction sites and much more.

Trumpet was a side hobby at best.

Fast forward 10 years or so. I decide I’m going to take trumpet more seriously. I begin practicing. A lot. So much, that I realize I’m beginning to kind of sound like some of the great trumpeters I’ve heard on the recordings I’ve listened to over the years.

Then the thought comes to me. “You should practice Grand Russian Fantasia.”

So I did. The right way. Setting the metronome super slow, then getting it right 5 times straight, then bumping up the metronome a click or two.

It didn’t happen overnight, but soon enough I could play that fast section with all the 32nd notes.

The section that the 19 year old version of myself thought was impossible.

These days, it’s practically second nature to play it. It’s almost easy. After I’m done with my long tones and scale exercises when I play, I just play it once or twice just for fun.

I think it’s to stick it to myself because I limited myself as a musician like that for so long.

When I began as an online entrepreneur a few years ago, there was – and still is – a lot of information to sift through.

Quite frankly, it was overwhelming to think of all the things you have to do to be successful.

Building an email list.

Producing a podcast consistently and at a high level of quality.

Social media presence.

Yep. It’s a lot. And like those 32nd notes in Grand Russian Fantasia, it’s easy to think it’s pretty near impossible to do it.

But people are doing it. Musicians and non-musicians alike.

How are they doing it?

They get out the metronome and start slow. They set small, achievable goals, then bigger goals when they reach those. Soon enough, they’re firing on all cylinders, making real money and quitting the job they’d rather not be doing so they can focus on the work that really fires them up.

It’s sad to see musicians talk so negatively about the opportunities going away, as if there’s nothing to replace the gigs that were around 20 years ago.

There are opportunities to make a real living doing what you love to do, and as a musician you really have an advantage over a lot of others. You’ve worked up Grand Russian Fantasia (or whatever challenged you as a youngin’) on your axe. If you did that, you sure as hades can do it in another realm, such as the Internet.

Just start slow. You’ll surprise yourself how quickly it comes to you.

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