Home Practice


Home practice plays an important part in the musical growth of any musician. Furthermore, educational research has proven that a student’s ability to perform on a musical instrument will improve at a rate directly proportional to the quantity of time and effort expended in practice. We therefore seek parental help in encouraging home practice habits. Your awareness will enable you to offer praise when praise is due.

A completed, signed practice record should be turned in by the student each Wednesday for a grade given by parents according to the grade/time scale. Practice records will not be accepted after Thursday. If the student practice record is not turned in, the student will receive a zero. A signed student practice record turned in on time will warrant at least some points even if the student has not practiced. In this way, responsibility is rewarded.

Students must practice an average of at least 30 minutes per day if they are to make progress. Warm-Up should consist of long tones, followed by scales and exercises. This is one of the most important part of a student’s practice, yet is almost always the most overlooked. Most professional players consider this the most important parts of their practice. Long, sustained tones, in a variety of ranges and dynamics, combined with deep concentration by the student on the quality of sound and the center of the pitch, will vastly improve every aspect of a student’s playing. Such practice takes much self-discipline and patience, which is why young students often neglect it.

Scales are another essential practice item that must be addressed every day. If we can play a scale, we can easily learn to play any song based on that scale. Scales should be practiced very slowly at first, with the emphasis on perfect rhythm and even fingers. Only when a student can play a given scale perfectly, many times in a row, should he/she increase the speed. Adding octaves to scales allows us to increase our playing range.

On Practicing

  • Metronome and Tuner – get ’em and use ’em
  • Folding music stand
  • Choose a time and place with no distractions
  • Good “mind set”, intentionality, presence, no distractions
  • Have goals in mind to accomplish by the end of session – reasonable according to how much time you have

Cover a “balanced diet” Everyday

  • Long tones – especially important for everyone’s embouchure and tone development – remember Fast Wind is the key to a beautiful full sound.
  • Things for physical development – Brass lip slurs, woodwinds long tones
  • Basic technique (scales, articulation), Percussion rudiments¬†
  • Style and character studies
  • Method book exercises
  • Performance repertoire
  • Creative things – improv.¬†
  • Have fun!

Practice Until Your Tired – Then Stop
Pace yourself according to length of session

    • Exertion? Yes
    • Rest? Yes
    • Pain? No
    • Fatigue? No – time to quit. You can’t train tired muscles

Alternate Taxing Things with Relaxing Things

  • Vary your material freely – alternate styles, registers, dynamics, etc. Avoid getting in a rut.

Preparing for a piece:

    • Different stages of learning require different kinds of practice.
    • Drill tough licks in small chunks
    • Lots or REPETITION – mindful repetition (not mindless) 
    • SLOW PRACTICE  when appropriate – and always in PRECISE RHYTHM
    • Practice for facility and fluency
    • Practice for musical effect
    • Eliminate hesitations and errors
    • ALWAYS play with a beautiful tone quality

Warm-down at the end of session – finish with easy, relaxing playing