I know many of you are practicing feverishly preparing for all-region, all-state, lessons, concerts, orchestra auditions, concerto competitions, university auditions, recital hearings, juries, etc. Below are some tips that will help you make the most of your practice sessions.
7 Ways to Improve Your Practicing! by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
- Practice First: There’s a famous maxim in time management that says “Works expands to fill the time available for its completion.” (Parkinson’s Law) This means if you wait until you finish all your homework (or housework, etc.) to practice, then you won’t practice because you’ll run out of time. So, my suggestion to my students [and myself, yikes!] is that they practice first for at least one practice session before starting work on homework after school. This way they’ll get at least some practice in every day.
- Let There Be Light: Make sure you have adequate light in your practice space. FYI, you should own a couple of stand lights. Always take them with you to a gig – I used 2 stand lights on my stand last Friday night at an outside orchestra concert in a park!
- Care About the Chair: Get a good chair to sit in that is comfortable and the right height for you. Similarly, make sure you have a quality music stand that is adjustable.
- Straighten Up and Fly Right: Be sure you sit up or stand with good, relaxed posture – NO slouching, leaning over, leg crisscrossing, etc.
- No Fan of Fans: Do not have a ceiling fan (or similar) going above your head or near you while practicing. The fan will blow your sound around and you will not be able to accurately hear yourself.
- Turn Off the Dang Phone: Limit distractions by turning off all beeps, buzzers, and bells on cellphones, tablets, laptops, computers, etc.
- No Baseball: Do not do something else while practicing. I know someone who listens to baseball games while practicing. NO! Another friend warms up on his instrument while reading email. NO!
ClarinetMike says, “Check out the excellent book Deep Work by Cal Newport. The book discusses the need for improving our ability to do sustained Deep Work: ‘the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task [like practice!].’ (from the dust jacket flap copy of Deep Work by Cal Newport)”