A Guide to Great Music Practice
STEP 3 - Warm Up
You know how to set goals and set practise times, now we talk about the importance to Warm Up.
Singing and playing musical instruments are physical activities, and warming up is just as important to the musician as it is to the athlete.
Don't play the hard stuff cold; you won't be playing to the best of your ability, and will be wasting time and energy, not to mention making yourself frustrated.
Warm-ups may feel like a waste of time, but you can turn them into some of the most productive minutes of your practice.
If your teacher or director has given you specific warm-up exercises, do them. If not, ask for some, find some on your own, or consider doing scales as warm-ups.
Scales too boring? Do the hard ones (how are your D flat major and C sharp melodic minor scales?), or do jazz scales. If you ever want to do solo or improv work, you've got to have your scales down cold.
And remember, warm-ups are supposed to be easy. You're getting your body and mind back into the playing "groove", which takes a few minutes.
Want to have a great practice? When you're working on the hard stuff, it can be difficult to remember to play with your best tone quality and musicianship.
It's a lot easier on the easy stuff. Sure it's only scales, arpeggios, or long tones, but try playing or singing them with the best tone quality, best technique, and best musicality you have.
This will make warming up a little more interesting, but the big payoff comes later; you will play with a better tone quality and musicianship later in your practice, even when you are too busy to think of such things because the music is so hard.
Now read STEP 4 - Work on It
Catherine Schmidt-Jones attended Rice University, completing a B.A. in chemistry as well as the B. Music and M. Music. Currently teaching brass and guitar privately. Further information can be found at connexions.