Practice Routine Reboot

Sometimes it can be difficult to stay motivated and excited about practicing, especially during this time of year–coming off of a vacation, getting back into the swing of things, spring gig season entering into the picture faster than we realize.

In looking for some inspiration to kick off the new year’s practicing sessions the right way, it’s time to ask yourself why you are practicing. To be the best! (obviously) Below are the steps to take in order to reboot your practice sessions and be on your way to achieving your best!

Step 1: Make A List

If you had to list the top 5 characteristics of THE BEST playing you have ever heard, what would they be? There are a lot of different choices here and each person’s answer is going to depend on their own experiences of playing their instrument and the performances they have heard.

Step 2: Journal

Once you have identified the 5 qualities you have noticed in the playing you wish to emulate, journal about them. Why did you list that particular quality? What is your own philosophy on that particular aspect of playing? Spend 5 minutes free-writing about each of your 5 listed elements.

Step 3: Take Action!

Once you have finished writing, read it back to yourself. Reflect on what method books, warm up routines, exercises, styles of practicing, and mentors might best match each of your focused elements of playing. Now it’s time to build your new routine. Make a list of exercises for each of the 5 elements (don’t forget sight singing, listening and score study!). Think of players who embody each of those playing characteristics–listen to their recordings, reach out to them for a lesson. Ask friends and colleagues to help add to your specialized 5-characteristic database of resources. Get in the practice room and track practice sessions based on each of your 5 categories. Take action!

Below is a snapshot of my practice routine reboot. What 5 categories did you choose? Comment below!


 

Endurance
How do I work on endurance? Practicing for longer chunks of time but also with a good form in mind. Being consciously aware of corners, contact with mouthpiece, and air use. Do not practice too far beyond noticeable fatigue. Make long tones a part of daily routine.
Accuracy
The key to accuracy is in the positive mindset of the player. Consistent practice will provide the confidence to know what is possible and to give accurate representation of pitfalls. Switching seamlessly from the stop and go of a rehearsal mindset to the ‘keep going, think ahead’ performance mindset is key. Strong aural skills allow a player to hear notes more clearly before playing them.
Tone
The concept of tone is a combination of modeling after horn greats and utilizing physical capabilities. A good tone also is defined based on culture and type of horn. Vibrato, note connections, and lip flexibility are playing qualities found within the tone construct.
Intonation
This includes being in tune on an individual note, between a series of notes, and with other members of the ensemble. In being in tune within an ensemble, decisions must be made on who to match on any given phrase based on the strengths of other players and the instrumentation and melodic content of the phrase. A strong individual sense of intonation will provide ensemble intonation flexibility.
Articulation
The tongue should not stop the tone in the front or back of the mouth. The air stream should remain strong, consistent, and supported throughout all kinds of articulation. Fingers must coordinate with tongue and air during note changes. A study of all instruments and their full range of articulation must be observed in order to inform the horn’s full range of articulation possibilities.