Would you like to enhance your recorder practice?
It’s not good enough to just practice for a longer period. You must practice better. More effectively. And included in our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning The Recorder’, we are going to provide you with all of the knowledge you need to practice the recorder better.
How Come Recorder Practice Is So Difficult?
Practice. If you do it regularly enough, you’ll become great. Everyone knows this. So just why is practice so difficult?
Motivation is key. Without motivation, you’ll not force yourself to go back to the instrument day after day. So how do you get motivated?
By winning. Yes, that is what I said. Winning. You’re in continuous competition with yourself, and whenever things go perfectly, you really feel like you’re winning. When you’re in this frame of mind, it is simple to practice. It’s the circle of life – winning more provides you with far more motivation, so you practice even more. Practising more usually means you win more, as a result, it gives you much more motivation. And this goes on and on exponentially.
If it’s that straightforward, exactly why is practice still so difficult?
Drum roll… The answer? Because it’s not that easy! Just practising isn’t good enough. You could practice for fifteen hours a day and never improve.
If it’s not the amount of practice that places you on the circle of life, what does?
Quality. Quality. Quality.
Practising for 15 minutes a day, targeted, useful high-quality practice is far more beneficial than 4 hours of vague, ‘auto-pilot’ practice.
So you simply need high-quality practice so that you can jump aboard the circle of life train?
In your dreams! Nothing is that easy. Combine quantity and quality, and you’ll finally be a first-class passenger.
Read on to discover how to buy your first-class ticket, and ways to continue on the train as long as you want…
Structure Your Recorder Practice
Just how long should you be practicing each day?
15 to 20 mins is an excellent place to start, and probably no more than 45 minutes or so each time. After that length of time, human beings usually tend to zone out – and then the practising will become less successful. As a rule of thumb, any time you really feel your focus waning, quit. Be pleased that you just showed up to your practice session, and don’t stress over the length of time you practice for.
How often should I be practicing?
This particular one is an easy answer – practice daily. This way, you’ll convert your recorder practice into a routine. A dedicated, focused, regular practice is more beneficial than twice each week an hour at a time. And keep in mind, in case you’re thinking “but how can I find the time to accomplish twenty minutes on a daily basis? !? ” – just grab some of your time and energy from social media over to the recorder. We do, in fact, spend on average 142 minutes on social media a day!
When should I be doing my practice?
It makes no difference when you practice, just so long as you do practice. Test out creating a preset schedule for yourself vs. being ad-hok. See which options are best, and stick with it.
Recorder Practice Top Tips
1. Stop Probable Disruptions
It is ‘you‘ time. Just as when you go to the cinema, be sure you switch off all of the nagging devices that can ping, ding and disrupt you. Focus is definitely the name of the game.
2. Get Really Comfortable
With time, you’ll be spending a massive length of time with your musical instrument, so it’s really vital that you get as comfy as possible. Make sure you have some water, a pen and a piece of paper for creating notes.
3. Goal Setting
What do you want to accomplish? Make an effort to establish an ambition that you could achieve inside your practice session. Using objectives, you’ll develop quicker and a lot more efficiently.
Perhaps Monday you’ll learn the first twelve bars/measures. Then Tuesday you’ll study the last 12. Wednesday can be the complicated little bit in between. Thursday can be reminding yourself of all things you’ve learnt to date, and Friday could be attempting to play the sections minus the music (from your memory). Whatever you have to do, fix your targets in writing and then make them happen. So when you accomplish your goal, celebrate! I would suggest a good bottle of red…
4. Find Your Undesirable Habits
We all get it drastically wrong, well before we get it correct. It’s called practice! The obvious key is to remove the wrong things as soon as possible. If you don’t do that, then we begin to acquire undesirable habits.
So when you see a horrible habit – say hi to it. Recognize it’s there, and crush the little blighter before it’s too late…
The only way this works though is when you’re consistent. Don’t ever allow undesirable habits to sneak in. You’ll be sorry!
5. Keeping It Exciting
Have you ever driven to a location, then when you arrived, you had absolutely no memory or recall relating to the trip. You drove completely on ‘brain auto-pilot’. The same can happen when practicing the recorder.
If you practice exactly the same way every time, your advancement will slow, your commitment will decrease, and playing the recorder will end up a chore. It is possible to overcome this tiny gremlin by changing your practice methods.
There are lots of solutions. Shut your eyes to perform. Consider playing the piece of music backwards. Attempt standing up or sitting down. Play whilst wearing earphones. Play everything softly, or possibly loudly. The list goes on and on. Creativity is the name of the game, and whatever you do, don’t lose interest!
6. Become Your Personal Coach
Most people understand best when we have somebody over our shoulders, offering us their feedback. However, unless you own Amazon, you’re not likely to be able to find the money for a private recorder instructor 365 days per year. But Mr Bezos can keep his squillions because we do not need them. We have our very own unique teacher inside us.
For starters, it is more than likely that at least 50% of the time you are performing the recorder, you’re too busy concentrating instead of actually listening to what you’re playing! It may sound absurd, I am aware. But it’s true… So now that you’re mindful of it, correct it! Hear your playing WHILST you play…
Subsequent, with the magic of modern technology, it’s now increasingly simple to record your playing. So get your smartphone out, record, and critique yourself.
And even if the world’s richest individuals wanted to seek the services of my own instructor, they couldn’t afford to pay for it!
7. Whatever You Do, Do Not Start off...
It seems right to start a piece at the beginning. The catch is should you do that each and every session, the first few notes will sound wonderful, but still become disproportionately practised compared to the remainder of the piece. Mix it up. Begin right at the end! Or in the centre! Or shut your eyes and randomly select a section. Just don’t always begin from the beginning!
8. Omit The Simple Parts
We are all attracted to the path of least resistance. In music, that means playing the straightforward parts. After we find an easy bit that sounds good, we usually tend to play it again and again. The trouble with this is the fact that we don’t advance. It’s actually a dreadful practice strategy. So bypass the easy pieces, and concentrate on the sections that you’ll really need to work hard at.
Think logically now; which elements is it advisable to learn first? Yes, that’s correct. The hard parts. The easy bits will sort themselves out.
So don’t ignore this. Go find that complicated aspect and warm it up…
9. Don't Perfect The Piece
Sight-reading is a fantastic exercise to round off your practice with. There is no pressure to perfect the piece, and it can be a lot of fun too! Additionally, it lets you test your recorder playing skills out on a totally different piece – or even a different genre.
The metronome is there as your buddy, not foe. So use it and abuse.
For much faster, hard sections set your tempo at half of the ‘target’ speed. Practice the section on a daily basis, and every day raise the tempo by 5 beats (BPM). You’ll have so gradually increased the speed, that before you expect it, you’ll be at full speed.
And right here is a bonus tip – always try and overshoot by 10%. When you have to be at 150BPM, ensure that you can play it at 165bpm – that way 150bpm will appear easily manageable!
11. And The Most Important Thing...
Did you detect in point number three that I talked about a treat? Well, I do believe it’s so essential I’m mentioning it twice! Remember to make it rewarding…
Exercises are an absolute nightmare. But it is a must in sports to warm-up, and playing the recorder is absolutely a sport for your fingers (and mind). There are many different exercises that strengthen your fingers and lungs, but the main one is:
There are many recorder books which offer a complete method for your practice. Find one which fits your style and use it daily to develop all areas of your recorder playing – think of it as your recorder gym!
Some of the most popular are:
- Paul Harris – 50 Graded Recorder Studies For Descant Recorder
- Walter van Hauwe – The Modern Recorder Player Volume 1
- Hunt – Orchestral Studies For Recorder
- Hemlut Monkelmeyer – Handleitung Für Das Spiel Der Altblockflöte
Recorder Practice Bonus Tips
1. Sort Out Your Brain
The brain learns whenever you choose to do something new. It creates a neuron, much like a tiny branch of a tree. Whenever you repeat the very same thing, with absolutely no differentiation, that branch gets a little stronger. If you do the task enough times, in precisely the same manner, that branch becomes a strong arm. This is basically the point where your body and mind can just do a thing ‘without thinking about it’.
Furthermore, if you play things differently every time, you are creating different neurons, different tree branches. For those who play it differently every time, five times, then you’ll end up having 5 neurons. 5 tree branches.
So is that a concern? Without a doubt! A branch is a choice. Once you come to a performance and get to the related area, if your brain has a choice of various different neurons to pick from, it can choose the incorrect one. It could opt for the one that includes a mistake within it. For once, the choice isn’t a good thing. If you have just one single neuron which is correct, your brain offers no choice – it has just one choice – the right one.
So, become consistently correct from the first time of playing something. Understand stuff at a tempo you can perform well. And focus on your neurons!
2. Recommended Reading
Here are some great books that really helped me when I was starting out and I regularly recommend them to students to this day.
Music Practice: The Musician’s Guide to Practicing and Mastering your Instrument like a professional
I also highly recommend you include How to Read Music in 30 Days in your must-read list. If haven’t already read our guide on How To Read Sheet Music, then do check that out as well.
Recorder Practice - Summary
If you’ve learnt one thing from all the above, it needs to be the following:
Practice is a vital element with studying a musical instrument. Do not leave it to chance. Establish a practice procedure. Mix it up. Print off this post and continue referring to it. And make sure you treat yourself…
Remember that variety is the spice of life…. Try not to get stuck on the same thing for too long in your practice as you will just get bored!
Always make music, even when you are just practising techniques or studies, even scales can be expressive!
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