• How to Practice

     

    There are three main stages in a practice session:

                Warm Up                    (5-10 minutes)

                Music/Exercises        (10-15 minutes)

                Cool Down                  (2-5 minutes)

     

    As a general rule, a 20-minute practice session will only have 10 minutes of actual playing.  The other 10 minutes will be resting between exercises and time to think about what you are trying to accomplish.

     

    TIPS

    • It is important to learn to practice efficiently and with a focused mind.  A solid 20-minute practice session should not include T.V., iPod, phone, or anything else distracting.

     

    • Pick a place in the house where you can focus on improving your instrument and musicianship without distractions.

     

    • Set a timer for how long you wish to practice.  Setting a timer will allow you to focus on practicing and not how much time has gone by.  It also will help you prioritize your practice session.

     

    • Every practice session should have an attainable goal, such as:

     

      • better tone
      • cleaner tonguing
      • rhythm/counting
      • changing notes

      

     

    Warm Up  (5-10 minutes)

     

    1. Prepare your mind and body to make music.  Get in correct playing posture (feet, back, shoulders, head, and hands), and think about what you want to work on and make better.

     

    Flute:  Start with the head joint.  Slowly bring the tone hole to your lips, make a correct playing embouchure ("we too").  Breathe from you stomach and blow cold, fast air with a "poo" shape of the lips (no puffing cheeks).  The sound should be full and straight.  Hold for as long as you can, then move to resting position.  Repeat this at least 5 times or until you can consistently make a nice, full flute sound.  Make every time better than the last!

     

    Clarinet:  Assemble the mouthpiece and barrel (with reed and ligature).  Slowly bring the mouthpiece into your mouth using a correct embouchure (bottom lip, corners of your mouth).  Make sure the mouthpiece is in place and set.  Breathe from your stomach and blow (no puffing cheeks).  The sound should be full and straight.  Hold for as long as you can, then move to resting position.  Repeat this at least 5 times or until you can consistently make a nice, full sound.  Make every time better than the last!

     

    Saxophone:  Assemble the mouthpiece and neck (with reed and ligature).  Slowly bring the mouthpiece into your mouth using a correct embouchure (bottom lip, corners of your mouth).  Make sure the mouthpiece is in place and set.  Breathe from your stomach and blow (no puffing cheeks).  The sound should be full and straight.  Hold for as long as you can, then move to resting position.  Repeat this for at least 5 times or until you can consistently make a nice, full sound.  Make every time better than the last!

     

    Brass (Trumpet, Cornet / Baritone, Trombone):  Assemble your instrument and play a C or Bb, whichever it is for you (Trombone is Bb).  Get that pitch in your head, then take the mouthpiece off and set the instrument down safely.  Get ready to play that pitch only on the mouthpiece (hold at the end with only thumb and two fingers).  Slowly bring the mouthpiece to your lips using a correct embouchure (lips, corners of your mouth).  Make sure the mouthpiece is in place and set.  Breathe from your stomach and blow (no puffing cheeks).  You should be playing the same pitch you played on the instrument.  Try to hold the pitch as steady and straight as you can.  The buzz should nice and full.  If it sounds thin and wimpy, you need to push more air through (wind!).  Move the mouthpiece to resting position.  Repeat this process at least five times on C/Bb, D/C, and E/D.  Make every time better than the last!

     

    Percussion and Bass:  Begin with something slow and simple (choose a few exercises from the first couple pages).  Focus on playing with correct body posture, hand technique (left and right hands) and with excellent steady beat.  Do not allow yourself to be lazy on easy exercises--how you practice easy exercises sets you up for the harder stuff!

     

    Music / Exercises

     

    1. Start with the music/exercises that are hard for you to play.  There is no reason to work on stuff you can already play well.

     

    1. Pick three to five exercises for the week that you will be focusing on.

     

    1. Speed doesn't matter!  Go as slow as you need to so that you play with a beautiful sound and are not messing up.  Once you master that speed and can play the exercise properly, increase the speed a little.  Keep doing this until you find your "breaking point."  The breaking point is the speed where you feel out of control--this is the speed you need to work up to.

     

    1. Take breaks!  If you played for a minute, rest for a minute.  If you played for two minutes, rest for two minutes.  Resting does NOT mean going to watch T.V., talk on the phone or doing anything else.  Focus on the exercise you are working on and think about how you are going to make a better sound, better rhythm or better counting.

     

    Cool Down

     

    1. Play something fun!  End your practicing with a song or exercise you like to play.  Practicing can be hard and frustrating, and we want to end it on a good note.  ... good note, get it?  Hahaha!  ... um... yeah...  *wink*

     

Last Modified on August 11, 2017