The Little Things

I often think of a story I once heard about Cal Ripken Jr (possibly apocryphal): to help avoid hand/wrist injuries he could be found slapping his hands against the asphalt after practice to build callouses/thicken bones/become generally more badass. The point being that he was going that extra step to condition himself for play… and in his case, condition himself so well that he would earn the record for the most consecutive games played. A record that had stood for 56 years.

It leads me to ask myself “what little things are other musicians doing?”

There are stories about Christian Lindberg, trombonist, and Bill VerMuelen, horn player, repeating high notes hundreds of times.

John Marcellus, Professor of Trombone at the Eastman School of Music, developed an intense routine of upper register lip slurs.

Marcellus - High Register Extensions

Rafael Méndez, trumpet player, would practice rapid articulation for minutes at a time, allowing him to do this:

David Waters, former Professor of Trombone at Rice University, broke down vibrato into a meticulous exercise to develop control (others do a similar exercise):

Waters - Vibrato

With so many skills to master most musicians have devised at least one unique approach. I’m pretty sure that if Cal Ripken was hitting his hand on the sidewalk it wasn’t the only thing he was doing. He had an intense routine of many “little things.” Each of the musicians above has/had an intense routine of many “little things:” fundamentals, exercise, score study, singing…

What little things do you do?

Leave a Reply