By the time I graduated from college, I probably had a dozen different warm-up and fundamentals routines on my shelf. Everyone has a favorite, and everyone has their own special tweak. The fact is, using a routine to keep tabs on the basic issues of production and facility is very important, but there are no new ideas. Long tones, lip slurs, articulations, the same basic elements are in every routine. What makes each routine unique is how these items are arranged to focus on various aspects of playing.
I have made no secret of my admiration for the Adam Routine. It is intelligently designed, covers all the main areas, and can help players at many different ability levels. During the periods of time when I made the most progress on my instrument, I was doing the Adam Routine several times a week. Why not every day? Because it takes well over an hour to do properly. This is a common theme; in an effort to address all the important areas adequately, many of the well-known routines are quite lengthy. For instance, David Vining’s Daily Routines is spectacular, but at 103 pages, even one of the recommended subsets is a significant commitment.
I’m all for investing lots of quality time in the practice room. It’s the only way to develop the quality necessary in this highly-competitive market. Being “very good” is not good enough to get a job; in order to actually make money playing the instrument, we have to hone our skills to a world-class level just to get a cheap Tuesday-night gig. However, our available practice time varies through different phases of our lives. When I was a student, I was always able to plan practice into my class schedule. As a freelancer, my schedule was flexible enough to fit in a couple of practice sessions throughout the day. Now, I have a very heavy teaching load plus a young child at home. The idea that I could spend more than an hour on a routine and still have time left in the day to practice repertoire is ludicrous.
I need a routine I can do in the last half of my office hour after no more students need help. I need a routine I can do between the time I drop my son off at school in the morning and when my first class starts. If I get through just part of the Adam Routine during those pockets of time, I won’t hit all the bases regularly. If I try to improvise my way through that time just to get the horn on my face, I will lack consistency. I need a specific routine designed to maximize the value of these shorter practice sessions. I know that such a shorter routine will not cover as many elements, and it won’t cover them as completely. A more robust routine is preferable when it’s possible. But, when I have 20 minutes because my Music Theory exam got out early, I want to have something appropriate ready to go.
So after all that preamble, here is my expedited fundamentals routine. It comes with two variations, so that by alternating which side of the page I’m reading, I cover more material throughout the week. Each page takes around 20-30 minutes and covers efficiency, long tones, lip slurs, articulation, key centers, articulation, consistency, and multiple tonguing. The routine is influenced by the Adam routine, but departs from it to hit some of the items I like to work on regularly.