Practice Tips Posts

How to Ease back into Playing After Summer Break

I speak from experience when I say that playing after a long break is tough! If you haven’t picked your instrument up in a few weeks, it can be really difficult to play! Everything feels alien—your chops swell up, you get exhausted after a few notes, you lose your range, and etc. I get it, I get it—hanging out at the pool with your friends is more fun than playing concert F for 30 minutes a day. Here are a few tips to ease you back into playing after summer break:

A Summer Practice Guide for Middle School Band and Orchestra Students

The article below is written by Mr. Alex Keim, band director, at Noblesville East Middle School. When we asked him if we could post it here, he mentioned “It is geared toward 6th grade band, but it is definitely applicable to all middle school students returning to 7th or 8th grade.”  We felt like it was great advice that all middle school band and orchestra students could benefit from.

Mouthpiece Clocking: Voodoo Magic or Real Science?

As a brass player, there are naturally good days and bad days. Days where the instrument sings effortlessly, and days where you want nothing more than to touchdown spike your instrument into the pavement. What if I said that this issue could partially be within your control without changing the way you play?

The Importance Of Breathing Well

The most important factor in brass and woodwind performance is breathing. If you aren’t breathing well, it is very difficult to achieve a great sound on a wind instrument. The best instruments in the world won’t sound great unless you are breathing well!

Here is a short exercise that will enhance your awareness of your breathing:

Practicing Over Break

We like to share this post each year to give you some ideas for practicing at home over break!

You’ve made it through the first half of the school year! For many of you, that means you’ve probably played a few concerts, recently completed your marching band season, or maybe you’re headed to the Rose Parade. With winter comes the thrill of pep band, the improvisation of jazz band, the spinning of winter guard, or the rhythms of winter percussion. You know by now, being a musician is a never-ending process with performances and rehearsals perpetually around the corner.

With so much going on, you’re probably ecstatic to have a few weeks of winter break to take a break from all the commotion. While it’s great to take a break from any activity that takes up so much of your time, it’s important to incorporate a little bit of practice during your off-time to maintain your peak condition. Many professional athletes can attest to the same thing: just maintaining your physical state during the off-season makes it much easier to perform at your best when it’s game time.

Here are few tips for musicians to maintain their “chops” during the off-season:

Long tones

For a few minutes a day, simply play a few long tones. This will get your air moving and will help you keep the embouchure you’ve developed (brass and woodwinds).

Scales

Working your way through a few scales a day will keep your fingers flexible and coordinated. Any scale (major, minor, chromatic, and etc.) will work!

Lip Slurs (brass)

A few lip slurs will go a long way over winter break. For the purposes of winter break, choose a few simple slurs and take it nice and slow.

Do any combination of the above for 10 minutes a day and you’ll be able ease back into your normal rehearsal routine and perform your best in 2018!