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:
- 1. Play some long tones – You don’t need to try to play as hard, loud, or fast as possible. Ease into your first week with some nice mezzo pianolong tones in a comfortable range. All we’re trying to accomplish good air movement through the instrument. Just focus on playing with a good sound
- 2. Articulate eighth notes – Once you have moved air through your instrument, subdivide your long tones into sequences of eighth notes. For example, play eight eighth notes in the same sequence you just played your long tones in. To make this as simple as possible just play your favorite major scale.
- 3A. Play some lip slurs (Brass only) – Once you have moved some air through the instrument, play some comfortable lip slurs. Focus on simple lip slurs in half and whole notes. For example, F to low Bb or F, high Bb, low Bb and so on.
- 3B. Play some scales (Woodwinds and Brass) – Once we have moved some solid air through the horn, we can add some finger/slide action to the mix. Focus on playing comfortable scales and articulating each note clearly and just focus on producing a good sound and getting your tongue in-sync with your fingers.
Now that you’ve done all of these things you can focus on more technical work, solos, etudes, and learning new music! If your chops swell up, take a break and try the above sequence later in the day. After 2 or 3 days of this, you should feel pretty close to where you were before summer break! After a week it will probably feel totally normal again!