Date: Fri, 18 Aug 2000 23:06:15 -0700
From: "Eric Bolvin" <>
Subject: RE: New Routines

This is my current routine, which is totally cool. It's all about jazz trumpet. I've been developing these types of routines due to the limits on my practice time due to my gigs and teaching schedule. This is something new that has been working for me quite well. I studied with Claude, so I'm into routines totally. These routines will help all players, but I've been working on them so that I can focus my limited practice time on what I like- jazz improvisation. Please follow the instructions and purchase the required materials.

1. You must know the first eight studies of the Clarke book. These are no longer fingering exercises to you. You know all your keys and preferably play the studies (without the etudes) from "memory". You can concentrate on putting air through the horn and tongue level. Play light and soft with no effort. This first part of the routine is critical as it sets the attitude for the later, more aggressive sections. Since you are new to this approach, play Study 1 for two weeks. Slur each line four times. You don't have to do it in one breath, but you might. Rest as much as you play. You should be able to play the line that goes from F# to high C four times. If you can't, you simply need to rest more during the study and practice it everyday. Never over-do it. The secret of Clarkes is to forget the fingerings and concentrate on the position of your tongue and the air that sizzles over it.

2. Well, we're not playin' jazz just quite yet, because we need more help. This comes in the form of buzzing. That's right folks! Lip buzzing! Most teachers teach lip buzzing as a warm-up or first part. Not me. I'm now into a totally new school of thought on buzzing. Buzzing is simply an exercise for the lips. Who said it has to be the first thing you do everyday?

To tell the truth, I've never been a big fan of buzzing, but I've done some over the years. Until I met Nick Drozdoff. His mp3 site has the greatest buzzing exercise on it called the "Peel-Away" and lip buzzing. Go.
I usually spend about ten minutes on his exercises.

*NOTE* During the routine you must be aware of how your chops feel. The whole idea of this routine is to always feel fresh and if you don't then you are not resting enough. You can not build endurance if you are practicing  tired, it's just plain stupid.

OK. You've rested now and are ready for what I call Stage II.

3. Now's when the meat meets the grinder because you will need the book "Pentatonic Scales For Jazz Improvisation" by Ramon Ricker published by Warner or Belwin or Aebersold; heck I just got it in two days, it's in print. Skip to page 49, chromatic exercises. The book is written for sax range. At this time only play up to high C. This means that the pattern starting on F would take you to high C (F G A C ). You must be somewhat creative at this point so you get a good flow going on these exercises. Play the first four, using the models: ST, slur2, slur2-alternate, slur all. Once you have learned the patterns a metronome is always helpful. Write your tempos in the margin and notch it up one only everyday.

4. Transcribed solos, step one. Parker omnibook in Bb. This book is a gold mine! Get a cd of Bird playing as many tunes as you can find that are in the Omnibook. Don't listen to the tunes 'cause they'll kill ya! Practice them first, then listen to them. Make sure you own no weapons. Sleep with the Omnibook under your pillow. Take hostages.

5. Pedal tones. Yeah, I know. Many of the teachers who contribute to this group are against the use of pedals. They seem to feel that pedal tones are used to relax the lip muscles. This is not the purpose of my teaching. The trumpet is an instrument that is divided into registers. This can be heard when playing a low C and comparing the sound to a low C#. Different registers. The practice of a pedal tone exercise that covers not only the distinct pedal registers, but also all the normal ranges of the horn is quite beneficial. I am now doing Claude Gordon Daily Routines Lesson 12. Add the octave at C for now.
I'm assuming you know how to REST by now. This routine takes all day.

You've now done quite a bit. Once you start feeling good you must do "free improvising". I like to play mind games with myself where I limit my range and style or feel. For example, just try to play like Chet Baker for an hour. Chet would be like a circle that you can't step out of. You can never play too much blues. Every street corner's got a bar and in that bar there is blues. The notes you play mean nothing. It's the feeling and texture that makes what you play important.

Eric Bolvin
Trumpet, EVI, arranger, producer, educator
(408) 236-2009     Hear  "The Eric Bolvin Group" at