tenet (ten' it), noun: a principle, doctrine, or belief held as truth

Welcome to my blog! Here I will share some of my thoughts on horn playing and teaching, which I think about a lot, and maybe some other things, too. Since my job (which thankfully, allows me to do a lot of playing and teaching) keeps me very busy, as does my wonderful family, I may not write frequently. My goal will be quality, not quantity!

Please share your comments.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Practice Tips

     This is a list that I gave to my students at one of our weekly Studio Classes last semester.  It was partly an outline for the discussion we had, and partly a list that they could refer to as a reminder during their practice time.  In many cases, each of these items could serve as the basis for a separate blog post--and I may discuss many of them in greater detail in the future--but here they are all together!  We can all use reminders of these things occasionally.  I've only given credit on a couple items, but very few of these ideas are original.  

     If you're a student, I encourage you to read the list slowly, and let each item really sink in - some of them have HUGE implications.  If you want further clarification on anything, please ask.  Happy practicing!

Get a good warm-up – consistent daily routine
Consistency is the key to consistency.  You cannot cram for a lesson or performance.
What is “Deliberate Practice”?
Quality over Quantity
Practice with your brain switched on all the time
You should be drained mentally and physically
Form deteriorates with fatigue – bad habits can creep in
30-45 minutes in a session, maybe an hour
-2 or 3 smaller sessions a day are much better than 1 huge session
Practice efficiently – don’t waste your time
Listen to your body – take breaks, esp. during warm-up

Have a plan – for the hour, day, week, etc.
Schedule your practice time, and stick to it!
Prioritize practice (Beware of Marching Band!)

If you always sound good in a practice room, then you’re practicing the wrong things.

“Failure” is where it starts – it’s an opportunity to improve
Difference between “learning” and “practicing” – Farkas
-You only start “practicing” a passage when you can play it correctly

Use a metronome and tuner
-train your ears & rhythm – don’t become dependent on the tools
Use a pencil
Make a decision, then mark it - you can change your mind later.
Take notes during lessons and practice – keep a notebook/log/journal

You have to have the ideal performance in your mind with crystal clarity, then listen intently to compare what you’re playing to that.
-"You must sing all the music in your imagination, as you play, with such intensity, conviction and energy that the little that "leaks" out into the music as it is heard will ravish the listener." - Keith Hill and Marianne Ploger (www.musicalratio.com)
-Listen to great players for tone and technique.
-Listen to a recording of your piece over and over
Record yourself
Get outside opinions
Be hard on yourself, but also patient with yourself
Be your own worst critic, and your own biggest fan!

Go sloooooooooooooow!
Play it right many more times than you play it wrong
Do whatever you have to in order to have success (i.e. play something "perfectly") then build on that foundation (add notes, get faster, etc.)
Practice small chunks
Keep score – penny game
Balance detail work with “continuity” work
Break it down, build it up (out of context, then work it back in)
Use a good airstream always!
Invent abstract exercises to overcome obstacles
Practice extremes – play it even faster, higher, louder, etc.


Books: Practiceopedia and The Practice Revolution by P. Johnston
            The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
            Talent is Never Enough by John Maxwell
            The Art of Practicing by Madeline Bruser

         http://www.insidemusicteaching.com/  (by Philip Johnston)           
         http://www.practicespot.com/home.php (by Philip Johnston)
         “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” (article by K. Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Romer) available as a PDF download at: http://projects.ict.usc.edu/itw/gel/EricssonDeliberatePracticePR93.pdf


  1. great blog, Dr. Bennett; always enjoy reading your posts..........

  2. Some fantastic tips here, I'm so glad I found your blog!