When we first start playing a wind instrument like the clarinet or the saxophone, we begin learning basic tunes and technique as soon as we can get a sound from the instrument. This initial sound, however, can be thin and squeaky, and usually doesn’t match up to the sound we hear from more experienced players. How often have you felt demotivated because of wobbly notes or an involuntary screech? Good tone is so important on any instrument, not only because it indicates good technical habits but also because it makes playing so much more enjoyable and rewarding. To help you improve the quality of sound on your wind instrument, here are some useful exercises that I often use with my students (with audio examples).
A good practice routine will include warm ups of some sort, but sometimes this initial part of the practice can seem boring and disconnected from the central aims of the session. In this post I will suggest some ways to connect the two so that your warm ups are relevant to the rest of the practice rather than an unrelated intro to your main work.
One often overlooked factor that can make or break the effectiveness of your practice is how you set up your practice space. Most of us probably haven’t given the subject much thought (me included until recently!), but having a space that has been set up thoughtfully can have surprising effects on your musical progress and enjoyment. In this post I’ll look at the benefits of having a good practice set-up, and give some tips for how to make the most out of your music space.
When I was at school and having music lessons every week, I knew that I should be practising, but I was never really sure what constituted good practice, or how often I should have been doing it. It is only as an adult that I have discovered how to practise efficiently, through trial and error, learning from other musicians, reading books on the subject, and teaching my own students.
I thought it might be useful to put together a little compendium of tips that aid my own personal practice, for anybody who is looking for some guidance on the subject (and for myself to refer back to when needed!).