practice

Exercises For Improving Tone

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).

Avoid Forgetting Old Pieces With This Idea

Avoid Forgetting Old Pieces With This Idea

Finally mastering a piece that you’ve been working on for a while can be really rewarding: our fingers seem like they’re moving more effortlessly, we don’t have to think so hard about what’s coming next in the music, and we achieve a flow and fluency that only comes with familiarity and hours of practice. However, we can sometimes be too quick to file away a piece as ‘finished’ in our eagerness to move on to something new, only to find weeks later when we revisit it that we’ve forgotten parts and lost some of that proficiency. (Nobody wants to end up in musical Groundhog Day having to learn the same piece over and over because they’ve forgotten it!)

Eight Time-Saving Practice Techniques

Eight Time-Saving Practice Techniques

Although investing a great number of hours into your chosen instrument is crucial, the quality of that practice time is just as important. According to the leading authority in the psychology of expertise, K. Anders Ericsson, it is ‘deliberate’ practice that causes significant improvement, rather than mindlessly going through familiar motions. It is often much more beneficial to do twenty minutes of deliberate practice with a clear intention than it is to play aimlessly for an hour. With that in mind, here are eight practice techniques that I use in every lesson with my students and in my own practice, which will improve the efficiency of your learning and save valuable time.

Music stand and clarinet

What I’ve Learned About Practice

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!).