The quality of the practice is more important than the length of time it takes.
Objectives: Practice has several basic objectives:
- Quality Sound: You want to achieve a full, warm sound. Listen to professionals, and try to emulate their sound.
- Phrasing: Phrases are like musical sentences. You use phrases to create a musical line, which gives meaning to your music. Remember, to always end a phrase as well as you begin it. Make a phrase out of everything you play, even scales!
- Articulation: This is the physical start and end of every notes. The clearer your articulation, the easier it is to understand what you’re playing. Clean articulations allow you to create meaningful phrases. Be sure to differentiate various articulations (staccato, legato, accent, etc…).
This is where you focus on the basics of playing. Specifically, creating a quality tone, while using lots of air. Be sure to always use a lot of air. Play soft, long tones. Focus on playing in your middle/lower range, don’t try to play to high. This is should last about 15-20 minutes.
Practice your scales. You should practice every scale, everyday. Start slow, and slowly speed it up, as you perfect it. You need to work towards memorization of every major and minor scale. Scales are essential, because every piece of music is based on some form of a scale. This is should last about 15-20 minutes. Remember, you can practice a quality sound, phrasing, intonation, and articulation while practicing scales!
Focus on performing your music. Remember, to practice your music slowly and then speed it up. Never speed up, until you can play it perfect 3 times! Always use a metronome and tuner. In addition to getting notes and rhythms, you need to focus on dynamics and tempos. Don’t be afraid to write in your music! If you make a mistake, write yourself a reminder. No mistake should ever happen more than once! Make sure your make at least one thing perfect, every time you practice!
Tips and Tricks to Practicing:
- Choose a room that is quiet and free of distractions…no TV or radio.
- Be sure to use proper seating and playing position.
- Use a music stand. You can purchase a folding stand for a small amount of money.
- Use a metronome. You have SmartMusic, which has a metronome…..use it!
- Break down hard passages into smaller segments.
- Practice at a slow tempo.
- Slowly increase tempos, after you’ve played it perfect at least 3 times in a row.
- Practice for results, not just to “put in time.”
- Realize that there are some things you can fix in one practice session while other things may have to develop over time.
- Play for your parents. Let them see and hear what you are doing in class.
- At the beginning of each practice session, determine what your main goals are so that you don’t lose focus.
- Use your practice log to keep a record of your practicing. Remember to be specific. Use measure numbers, and be sure to keep track of how long you practiced it.
How much should I practice?
In order to progress on an instrument at the expected rate, a regular practice routine must be followed. There is no “set” amount of time a student should practice each day, but here are some general guidelines:
A beginner in the first six weeks of study should practice about 20-25 minutes per day. A beginner should increase this time to 30-45 minutes per day starting in the second six weeks.
A second or third year player should plan on practicing at least 30 minutes per day, but, preferably, more like 45 to 60 minutes. This may be broken up into two sections (for example, 15-30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon).
A high school student should be practicing 60 minutes per day. This may be broken up into two sections (for example, 15-30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon).
It’s okay to take a day off occasionally, but in order to maintain consistency, you should practice at least five days a week. The student should try to avoid taking multiple days off in a row.
Remember, the band is only going to be as good you make it!