It can be hard enough to keep a consistent practice schedule during the school year, and it somehow gets harder in the summer when you supposedly have more “free time”. But this “free time” quickly goes away if you’re traveling, taking summer classes, or if you’re on a staycation, destination Couch. Well, we’ve got some tips that will hopefully keep you on some sort of practice routine.
1. Make a schedule. Write it down, set alarms, plan to go to your school’s practice rooms (if they’re open) with your friends. Schedule private lessons over the summer and/or watch MusicProfessor videos for a review. Practice at a time when you know it’ll be easier to focus.
2. Practice even when you’re on vacation. Brass players - you can take your mouthpiece and do some buzzing exercises in your hotel room or in the car. Woodwinds - practice making your embouchure to keep your muscles in shape. Even 10 minutes of practicing while you’re waiting for your turn in the shower is better than nothing.
3. Don’t forget the basics. If you haven’t practiced in a while, it’s important that you start out with basic tonguing/buzzing/scalar exercises. Start out simple and slow with 10-15 minutes of practice, then work your way up to 30 minutes, then an hour if you desire. This will help you avoid sloppiness in the beginning, and after a few practice sessions your body will quickly jump back into gear.
4. Find other groups to play with. Look into band or instrument camps in your area. Play with local church or theatre groups. Consider joining a community band. Create your own ensemble that can go play at retirement homes, hospitals, or at community events.
5. Remember, playing is fun! Have a concert for your family and friends. Go on an excursion to your local music store (or the web) and buy a music book from your favorite movie or artist and learn to play those songs. Or, if you’re up for the challenge, try and figure out the melody of a popular song on your own.
6. Reward yourself. Once you’re done practicing, take a break and go outside (or back to your couch)! But don’t forget to properly take care of your instrument. That means cleaning it after you play it, storing it properly, disposing of reeds when they’re old, using valve oil and cork grease to keep your instrument in good working condition.