Tuesday, March 3, 2009

For those who practice

Hey there! So, as I practiced flute today, I once again found myself overwhelmed beyond possibility. However, the lovely Jen sent me this, and it's fantastic. I think it applies not only to flute and every other instrument, but just to anything we do routinely. Fantastic stuff:

Practice With Joy

Apply Madeline Bruser’s Ten Steps to Artful Practice:

  1. Stretch
    • back, legs, hips
    • shoulders, arms, hands
    • neck, jaw
  2. Settle down
    • breathing exercise
    • developing awareness of sensations in surrounding environment
    • mentally and emotionally prepare as you would to perform
    • select conducive practice space (sound proof, mirror, stand, piano, good temperature, good light)
  3. Tune in to your heart
    • ensure that your are making music (in scales, warm-ups, pieces, etc.)
    • recognize your personal connection to what you are playing
    • play mindfully
  4. Use body in a comfortable, natural way
    • posture – use mirror and bio-feedback
    • passive joints
    • pain free
    • take breaks (10 minutes per hour, separate hours)
    • take days off
    • less is more, learn to get maximum results with minimal effort
  5. Follow non-judgmental curiosity
    • a plan is not always necessary
    • listen to your interests and desires
    • honor your intelligence
    • use practice tools preventatively and prescriptively
  6. Recognize struggle
    • identify if problem is physical, emotional, or cognitive
    • reference known solutions or seek new ones
    • know when to interrupt repetition of bad habits
    • reinforce good habits
  7. Be simple and drop your attitudes
    • leave personal problems outside of the practice room
    • forget about “the voices”
    • reward yourself
  8. Listen
    • use a recording device
    • sing what you are playing
    • place your attention on the vibrations
    • reference recordings of yourself and others performing your repertoire
  9. Organize notes
    • mark breaths, dynamics, use of B flat key
    • bracket, circle and group notes as needed with pencil markings
    • study score
    • do melodic and harmonic analysis
  10. Pay attention to the sensations of touch and movement (Alvarez, The Conscious Flutist)
    • feel the flute under your fingers
    • feel the breath move through your torso, throat, and mouth
    • learn what good sound feels like


Use good time management skills:

  1. Create a written schedule
    • fit in class times
    • include practice time
    • schedule study blocks
    • put aside time for breaks, meals, fun
    • schedule exercise of other extra curricular activities
  2. Make Lists
    • short-term (weekly assignments, lesson goals)
    • long-term (semester exams, paper due dates, recitals, auditions)
    • big picture (grad school, job, competitions, creative projects)
    • different categories (academic, music, errands, shopping)
  3. Use piles
    • prioritize practice goals: weekly, monthly, daily, per semester
    • prioritize reading assignments
    • prioritize homework assignments
  4. Know your limits and your pace
  5. Allow yourself to be flexible within a structure
  6. Be realistic about the demands you place upon yourself
    • optimal flow occurs when your skill level and the skill level of the challenge at hand are most compatible (Chicksenmihaly, Flow)
  7. Learn the difference between what is essential and what is expendable
    • create must do, need to do, want to do, and would like to do grid
  8. Work backwards from big goals to schedule what is necessary to meet them


EDIT: PS. Jen just gave me the URL for where this came from:

http://www.laurabarron.net/resources/techniques.html Thanks Jen!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sheila,
You can add the link to which webpage this great list comes from:


Best, Jen

Mariah said...

I just printed this out and read it over before I start practicing today. :)