02.25.18

Great Clarinet Performances – Sabine Meyer

Posted in great performances, videos at 5:00 am by Administrator

Sabine Meyer is a renowned clarinet soloist from Germany. She began taking clarinet lessons as a young child, and made her solo debut at age 16. Since then, Ms. Meyer has performed with symphony orchestras and chamber groups all over the world.

To learn more about Ms. Meyer, please visit her website.

02.20.18

Common Practice Mistakes – Part 3

Posted in good musicianship, practice at 5:00 am by Administrator

Practice Mistakes!

Welcome to Part 3 of our series about things NOT to do in your practice! Last time, we talked about two big practice pitfalls–lack of focus and ignoring our problems. Today, we finish out our series with two very common practice troubles: one-way practicing and always starting at the beginning.

6. One Way Practicing
One way practicing means what it says; we use only one approach in our practice, like playing a piece over and over. Sometimes the best practice we can do isn’t necessarily playing–it may be counting, fingering, or drilling ourselves on note names. If we’re having trouble with rhythm, counting may be the best solution. If we get lost in our music, going through and saying our note names may help us find our way. One Way practicing is a one-way ticket to frustration, but using different approaches in our practice gives us extra freedom and makes practice more productive.

7. Always Starting at the Beginning

This is a trap that is extremely easy to fall into. When we start at the beginning of a piece every time, we end up knowing the first few bars very well, but barely touching the rest of the piece. This approach also keeps us from fixing trouble spots, because always starting at the beginning keeps us from isolating problems in other parts of the piece. Fixing this problem is as easy as starting in a different place. We can start in a random place and see if we can play it, or start right on a troublesome spot. When we start in different places, we get to know the piece from different angles. And the more we know, the better we play!

Are these problems plaguing your practice? Try doing the exact opposite of these troubles this week, and see what happens! If you need help making your practice more effective, be sure to talk to Ms. T; she’s happy to help.

02.18.18

Great Flute Performances – Sir James & Lady Jeanne Galway

Posted in great performances, videos at 5:00 am by Administrator

Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway are two of the leading flute players of our time. Both musicians perform all over the world, and devote a great deal of time to helping young flute players through workshops and masterclasses. To learn more about them, please visit their websites:

Lady Jeanne

Sir James

02.13.18

Common Practice Mistakes – Part 2

Posted in good musicianship, practice at 5:00 am by Administrator

Practice Mistakes!

Welcome to Part 2 of our series about things NOT to do in your practice! Last time, we talked about the dangers of practicing too little and not practicing consistently. Today, we tackle two big problems–lack of focus and ignoring our problems.

4. Unfocused Practice

One step above pseudo-practice is unfocused practice. This is like practicing on autopilot–we don’t think about what we’re doing or keep track of where we are in our music. As a result, we miss chances to fix trouble spots, and end up not knowing our instrument very well. When we focus on our notes, keep track of how our hands are moving, and make the effort to subdivide, it’s possible to practice half as long and accomplish twice as much. (And, we can use the time we save to do other things we enjoy!)

5. Ignoring Your Weak Spots
It’s no big deal to have weak spots as a musician–we all do! But when we ignore these weak areas, we can severely cripple our playing. If we have trouble with reading music, playing along with a CD won’t help us very much. If scales are tough, not practicing them will only make them harder. We become great players not just because we practice, but because we work on every aspect of our playing, even the stuff we’re not good at.

Are either of these blunders showing up in your practice room? If so, what are you going to do this week to practice in a more healthy way?

02.06.18

Common Practice Mistakes – Part 1

Posted in good musicianship, practice at 5:00 am by Administrator

Common Practice Mistakes!

In band class, we talk often about how to practice…but did you know that it can also be helpful to learn how NOT to practice? In this 3-part series, we’ll present several not-so-good practice habits that you’ll want to stay away from!

1. Practicing Too Little
The #1 mistake people make with practice is practicing too little. If you feel stuck in your playing and are frustrated that you’re not improving, you may want to ask yourself how much you’ve been practicing. Often, you’ll discover that you’re not improving simply because you’re not putting in enough time.

Learning to play music is like getting to know a new friend; if you don’t devote enough time to either pursuit, you’re not going to get very far. Practice creates results but it requires time and effort; there’s no shortcut to learning an instrument.

2. Inconsistent Practice
Practice produces the best results when we do a little bit every day. Practicing 5 hours one day and then taking a week off is about as helpful as feasting on Monday and eating nothing the rest of the week! Just as eating regularly keeps us well-nourished, practicing regularly helps us stay in shape and retain what we’ve learned.

3. Time-Wasting Pseudo-Practice
Practicing is work, and often, work is the last thing we want to do. When we feel lazy, it can be tempting to engage in timewasting pseudo-practice. In pseudo-practice, we try to look like we’re working hard when we’re really not. We might polish our horn for 15 minutes to get it “just right” before playing, practice with the television on, or organize our music instead of practicing. These activities may fool our parents into thinking we’ve practiced, but will they help our playing?

Have any of these poor habits showed up in YOUR practice? If so, try doing their opposite instead! You’ll end up with much less frustration in your life…and a lot more musical progress!