Practice Tips

Please apply them to your practice routine.

  1. Make time to practice.
  • Practicing should be part of your daily homework routine.
  1. Create a good Practice Environment!
  • Create a good practice environment that will allow you to be productive. Use a music stand, sit in a good chair, have a tuner and metronome, and focus!
  1. Create a Practice Routine!
  • Establish a good practice routine, like what we do in class. Start with long tones, play some velocity exercises, then some articulation exercises.
  • Spend a few minutes on “maintenance practice”. Meaning, go over skills that need to be kept up on a consistent basis such as arpeggios, lip slurs (brass), etc.
  • Most importantly, PRACTICE SECTIONS IN YOUR MUSIC THAT YOU STRUGGLE WITH! Work on these things at home so that you can contribute more to your performance ensemble!
  1. Record Yourself!
  • Record yourself playing your instrument, go back and watch the video or listen to the recording, and give yourself some feedback! You will hear things that sound better than you expected them to be and things that aren’t as good as you think they are! Use these recordings to help guide your improvement.
  1. Practice with a friend or two!
  • Get together with other people in the band and practice together. Come up with ways to make playing your instrument fun!
    • Perform for each other and give feedback.
    • See who can sustain a single note the longest with only one breath.
    • See who can get through their major scales the fastest with the least mistakes.
    • Be creative, come up with your own ideas, and share them with us!
  • Get together with other instruments from your band and play your music together! You can create your own smaller ensembles and play through your music. You will begin to hear how your part fits with everyone else and will encourage you to have your part down!
  1. Find a recording or video online of the piece you are working on!
  • Most of the music we play has been performed before. Go to youtube and look up your piece! Find different ensembles playing it and listen!! You can also play along.
  • Go to and search for your piece. Most of these compositions have recordings on this website.
  1. Break. Things. Down!!!
  • Take difficult “licks” slow and break them down. Take one count at a time MULTIPLE TIMES SLOWLY! Then add counts and gradually speed them up until you exceed the intended tempo, then slow it back down to the actual tempo.
  • This is tedious and somewhat annoying, but super helpful!
  1. Analyze your music!
  • Take small phrases and analyze it. Figure out what the rhythmic counts are and count them out loud. For example, figure out if the notes are on the downbeat vs. upbeat, “e’s and a’s” of the 16th note variations, etc. Then sing/clap/play rhythms to a metronome.
  • Go through your music and really understand how the accidentals fit into the line that you are playing and practice them “slowly”, repeating many times.
  1. Repetition is key! Repetition is key!
  • Once you practice something and it finally sounds good, repeat it multiple times! Set a goal to play something correctly 5 times in row. If you make a mistake, start the count over!
  • “Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong!”
  1. Take 5 minutes to watch this video
  • After you’ve watched it, reflect on the information, and reflect on how you practice.
  • I just might make this into a Google Classroom Assignment….
  1. Don’t get discouraged!
  • Often times, practicing reveals many things about our playing that isn’t very good or needs immediate improvement. That’s ok! That’s what practicing is for! Some of the greatest athletes take the off-season to develop skills, to learn more about their game, and to work on things that they want to improve upon. Musicians do the same thing!
  • Always say to yourself, “I can do that better.” Play something, find a way to make it better, and keep repeating it until it improves. Once you feel satisfied, move on to the next thing. Repeat!
  1. Get a Method Book for your instrument!
  • If you don’t have one already, get a method book that focuses on your instrument! These books will have exercises and etudes that were designed for YOU!
  • I still have my method books from my high school and college years and STILL read and work out of them.
  • Just Google (your instrument) Method Books and a TON of them will magically appear.
  • Even though the beginning might seem basic, go through it anyways and continue on through the book!
  • Now come up to me and say the code word “Syncopation”…