Practice Tips

Practice as if you are the worst. Play as if you are the best. – Anonymous

      This is The Best Advice You’ll Ever Hear

Have a Plan and a Grateful Heart

  • “Every time we have the opportunity to sit down and practice, you know what’s my best recommendation? Take three seconds, only… three seconds. As soon as you are ready you put your book (out), you get your horn, get a glass of water, sit down, and then take three seconds, look up, and say “Thank God.” Three seconds. The frame of mind that’s gonna create because you’re so grateful; you’re so glad that instead of doing something else, you’re about to start practicing. You take it as a gift from God.”
  •     Arturo Sandoval   (Arturo Sandoval interview May 2013).  Watch video.

Should you be practicing

 Have a Place and a Time 

  • A room or space that you use to play every time you play
  • Schedule time,  just like you do for other activities and tasks

     Have Everything you Need

  • Good attitude – think of Playing Music rather than Practicing
  • Chair – one that promotes good posture
  • Music – in a notebook or folder-organized
  • Music stand – not your bed
  • Tuner – check your tuning every day, tune your guitar daily
  • Metronome – EVERY time you practice. Slowly.  Here is a free online metronome
    Metronome by
  • Pencil
  • Audio / video recorder – an effective teacher
  • Mirror – another effective teacher

End your practice Positively

  • Playing something You Like
  • Play something that is Fun
  • Play something that makes You sound Good!

Listen to Good Players and Copy them

  • Live Concerts
  • Your Teacher
  • YouTube
  • CDs
  • DVDs of concerts and performances – you’ll have the best seat in the house!
  • Check out recordings and videos from the library

Video Your Playing

  • Make a video recording of your self playing alone, with others or with a track.  Then watch it and see what you think about your playing. Then make changes.

Brass Players:

  • Lip Buzz – 15-30 seconds-in the manner I teach you in lessons.
  • Mouthpiece buzz – all trumpets, French horns, trombones, euphoniums, tubas. Long tones with correct set and very little mouthpiece pressure, James Stamp drills.
  • Flow studies (Vincent Chicowicz). Buzz them, sing them, play them as if playing a beautiful melody. (There is a free copy on the Free Music tab).
  • Flexibility drills/exercises (Schlossberg)  Using tongue arch (Ahhhh, Aaa, Eee) and air compression. (There is a free copy on my Free Music tab).
  • Technical studies- I use Arban, St. Jacome, Clarke Technical Studies and Characteristic Studies, these materials cover major scales, arpeggios, rhythms, articulation studies, intervals and etudes.
  • Work on something that is difficult for you – Arban, Clarke, range studies, songs, audition music, transcriptions, solos.
  • Play something lyrical and beautiful.
  • Play something you enjoy, that is fun, that you like, that makes you sound good. End your practice in a positive way.

Guitar Players

  • Tune your guitar first-carefully
  • Finger coordination, flexibility, strength exercises
  • Choose a song you like and learn how to play it or chord it
  • Scales – Start with minor pentatonic, then blues, major, minor, arpeggios
  • Chords-Start with the basic chords, then power chords, then barre chords
  • Reading songs-learn to read notes on the staff; rhythms (I use the Hal Leonard Guitar book 1)
  • TABS – learn to read tabs
  • Songs that interest you-if you’re not having fun, you won’t practice or improve

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