Practice: Jean Laurenz
Trumpet player Jean Laurenz loves the transition between learning a piece
and actually being able to play it.
“Practice, practice, practice,” might as well be a moniker for Carnegie Hall. Yet, we spend very little time talking about the physical and emotional undertaking during practice. We’re accustomed to musicians presenting us with their seemingly effortless performances instead of the struggles and reality of practicing. Here, we dive into the world of practice: Musicians of Ensemble ACJW talking honestly, and realistically, about their relationship to practicing.
How you feel about practicing? Is it work or play?
Oh, it’s different every day, and it’s both of those things. But I’d say very rarely is it the extremes for me. I never really feel like it’s work—like it’s never a chore that has to just get done. But also rarely do I just go in and it’s purely imaginative.
My practicing tends to be pretty structured and very analytical, and I know what I want to get done. I try to leave a small chunk every day for some sort of creativity or creation without analysis. But let’s say it’s somewhere in between both of those things, but oftentimes, it’s more work-structure oriented.
How do you structure your practice sessions?
Well, really specifically I have a warm-up, and then I have a book thing that I want to work on. So whatever my biggest priority is coming up tends to be a bigger chunk and it’s usually right after the warm-up or whenever I feel the most fresh.
And then I like to have something—it’s really silly, but I call them tidbits; they’re like 10-minute bursts of things that you want to keep in your repertoire or skills you want to keep fresh. Because it’s easy if I’m taking a lot of orchestra auditions to get super excerpt-oriented and then forget about the flourishy solo stuff. So I use that idea of bringing in a couple 10-minute chunks every day of practicing something that’s totally opposite of what my book stuff is.
How long do you practice every day?
I try not to do more than two hours. I’ve been trying lately to make it less and less time, but more and more focused.