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One musician's 'workday'

Taylor Haskins

A lot of people I meet ask me what I do all day, 'work'-wise, and I've always have trouble conveying it clearly.  I thought I'd break it down for those who aren't musicians/creative types and also (mostly) for myself, as I thought it could be a valuable exercise to write it down, which I've never done.

All of these times are variable even beyond these parameters, but this is what occurs in a very general sense:

15 to 30 minutes a day = valve trombone pre-warm-up

I've taken to doing this while I drink my morning coffee in the kitchen, which I'm not sure my family is so happy about.  I do try to keep it soft and pretty, which is part of any good brass warm-up anyway.


1.5 to 3 hours a day = trumpet practice 

This breaks down as such: 

  1. 15 to 30 minutes of breathing exercises (depending on how much Yoga and/or valve trombone I did before I start my trumpet practice),
  2. 30 to 60 minutes of what I call 'trumpet calisthenics', which includes long tones, lip slurs, articulation work and other minutia of brass playing.
  3. 30 to 90 minutes working on various aspects of trumpet playing that relate to improvisation: fluency in all types of scales and scale-based patterns, arpeggios, etc, including their application on chords and harmonic patterns.

I usually practice in blocks of time 20-30 minutes long and then I'll 'rest' about 1/3 that, which is when I'll practice other instruments...most often it's drums, but sometimes it's the piano, a synthesizer, melodica, wooden flutes, didgeridoo.



1 to 3 hours a day = composition work

This can include anything from sitting directly at the piano working on new music to continuing my trumpet practice in a 'composer-like manner' (occasionally I'll even use looping tools and effect pedals to experiment and create nuggets of inspiration for later exploration).  Also, my 'composition work' often includes studying music books and scores as well as meditative activities, such as walking quietly in the woods, that help bring deep focus and encourage quiet contemplation.  Music is born out of silence; I find sometimes an internal silence alone is sufficient, but often times not.

3 to 4 hours a day = computer-based music work

This can (and usually does) include a mix of things in any given day from recording, editing, mixing album projects and writing commercial music demos to doing music-related research and reading music blogs on the internet.

In addition there are frequent performances, of course, but as you can see they are just a part of what I do as a musician.

Like everyone, my day of course also includes lots of what I think of as my 'Thich Nhat Hanh chores' like doing dishes, dropping off and picking up kids/things, cleaning (a little), cooking (a lot), taking out the garbage, chopping the firewood, fixing things, building things to replace broken things, etc.  

I hope this information is interesting.  I think it's been useful for me to write it down.