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“How much should I practice?”

The quick answer is, practice as often and as consistently as possible. Remember, in order for anyone to become better at anything they do, dedicated hours of practice are of utmost importance. Establish an amount of practice time whether it is fifteen minutes or forty-five minutes a day, and stick to it! Use the recommend times below to help you figure out a routine that works best for you. Remember, this is just a guide.

Elementary School: 10-15 minutes a day, or 15-20 minutes every other day

Middle School: 15-20 minutes a day, or 20-30 minutes every other day

High School: 30-45 minutes a day.

“What if I just don’t have time to practice?”

Some days are hard, we all know. If you don’t have time to practice on a certain day, then just practice ten minutes, or look at the sheet music and sing it in your head on the ride home, go through the fingerings, or spend some time buzzing on the mouthpiece. The point is, do something everyday! I guarantee you’ll see great results!

More Practice Tips

! Keep a practice journal. Many musicians find it helpful to take notes on their practice sessions. These notes, when kept in a notebook, are called a practice journal. By writing down your goals, what you practiced and what you should do the next time you practice, you take the guesswork out of practicing. Practice journals help you keep track of how you used your time, what was a struggle and what was successful. You can write detailed sentences or just short notes. However you do it, be honest, consistent and thorough.

! Practice for rehearsal/performance. When practicing, try to conduct yourself in the same way as if you were at a rehearsal or performance. For instance, don’t sit on your couch and “mess around” with your instrument. Sit up straight with good posture. Try and imitate the way you are going to look and feel on stage. Every note you make, out of whatever instrument you play, should be an attempt to make beautiful music, even with sight-reading. Practice what you perform; perform what you practice.

! Practice with a metronome. Listen closely to timing and rhythmic accuracy. Start slower than the performance tempo then as you feel comfortable gradually build up speed. It is much more effective to play slower and emphasize important concepts and fundamentals than to play fast and lack control. Don’t jump into practicing by playing the hardest piece you know, as fast as you can. Warm-up properly and then start the music at a relaxed tempo.

! Remember what you are taught. As you play, think about what corrections were given specifically to you in rehearsal. Remind yourself of what the focus of each exercise should be. Be aware of any technique, rhythm, or tempo problems you may have.

! Practice in front of a mirror. Take a look at your embouchure, hands and sticks/mallets. You’ll be surprised at what you can fix by yourself. Practice with one or several others in your section and politely correct each other’s mistakes. Chances are, if you see one of your friends doing something wrong, you may be doing the same exact thing.

! How is your intonation? In other words, are you playing in tune? Be sure to have a tuner with you during practice. Another great way to tell if you are playing in tune is to play along with the CD that comes with some method books. The CD gives you a perfect example of how you should model your sound.

HAVE FUN! Each day play music that you enjoy! Most people like to do things that they are good at. But the way to get good at something is to do it correctly over and over again…practice! The hard work you put into practicing will pay off and soon playing an instrument will be more fun than work!

Nicholas Strandberg

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Teacher BOLD SchoolsBand Website: Skyward Contact

Liz Waskul-Wittman

Photo of Liz Waskul-Wittman
Teacher BOLD SchoolsMusic Website: Skyward Contact

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