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Students are recommended to practice an average of 20-30 minutes per day if they are to make noticeable progress. Beginners are recommended to practice 10-15 minutes daily to develop an embouchure.
The following is a suggested routine for practice:
Warm-Up -10 Minutes
This should consist of Long Tones, followed by scales and exercises (rhythm practices). This is perhaps the most important part of a students practice, and yet it is almost always the most overlooked by the student. Most professional players consider this the most important part of their practice.
Long, sustained tones, in a variety of ranges and dynamics, combined with a deep concentration on the part of the student on the quality of sound and the center of the pitch will improve every aspect of a student's playing in a remarkable way. Such practice takes a lot of self-discipline and patience, which is why it is often neglected by young students.
Scales are another essential practice item that must be addressed every day by the young student. All music is based upon scales and arpeggios. If you can play a scale, you can easily learn to play any song based on that scale or key. Scales should be practiced very slowly at first (phase 1), with the emphasis on perfect rhythm and even fingers. Only when a student can play a given scale perfectly, many times in a row (the rule of 5), should he increase the speed. Adding octaves to scales allows you to increase your playing range - how high or low you can play.
Band Music or Test material-10 minutes
Work on music to be performed and exercises assigned as test material.
Song Practice-10 minutes
Students should spend this part of their practice time playing songs they like. There are many song books available at area music stores that contain popular and traditional songs for instrumentalists at varying levels of proficiency. Students should spend some time looking through these books for material they would enjoy learning. Scales, long tones, and exercises are necessary to build the control needed to play music. Band music does not always have the melody line in every part. To become a good musician, and to enjoy playing, students should play melodies every day!
The old adage, "Practice Makes Perfect" is only partially correct. You must add "if Practiced Perfectly" if you are to get real benefit from your practice. Much of what we call practice is really necessary experimentation. Many students "experiment" many times until they get it right, and then think they are finished. In truth, each unsuccessful attempt is just experimentation to learn how to achieve a result. Once the correct result is achieved, you must repeat the correct response over and over. This is what practice really is, playing the song, scale, or exercise correctly, over and over again. Remember, if you play something 4 times wrong, and play it correctly on the 5th try, you have a 1 in 5 chance of playing it correctly on the next try. Only when you can play the song 5 times in a row, without making a mistake, can you really say you know the piece. This is called the "rule of five".
Be efficient! Here are some ways to make good use of a practice session. Dont just play the stuff you already know.
Slo Mo - Slow Motion. Slow it down. Get it right. Play each section as slow as you can. Try for accuracy in getting every note exaclty right. Gradually speed it up once you've got it.
Chunk It - Break each section down into 1-2 note tidbits. Once you play these notes right add one more, then one more, then one more...
Pencil Power - Write it in with pencil
Rule of Five - Play sections through five times in a row without making a mistake. If you can't play it perfectly five times in a row start over at 1 and try again..and again...and again.
Think It, See It, Do It - Practice without your instrument. Try tapping the rythum on your lap or a table. Play an imaginary air instrument while you move your fingers along. Try blowing and tonguing (or sticking) as if you were actually playing.
Forgetta 'Bout It - De stress by playing something you can play really well.
Idol Audition - Sing it through! Belt it out! Try to sing the same pitch as your instrument.
Record Yourself - Record yourself playing and listen to what you sound like.
Perform for Others - Play for someone that loves you unconditionally. Set up a recital atmosphere where you are the center of attention.
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