By Lexi Nomikos Reed and Woodwind Instructor, The Lesson Studio Boulder
As a career musician, I’ve learned to have patience with myself in my practice routine. Here are a few mantras that I apply to my practice and advice I give during woodwind lessons that everyone, beginner or not, can use:
If you sound good while practicing, practice something else:
Many people, when they’re getting the hang of a practice routine, tend to practice what they are already good at. The right idea is to focus on the weak points of your playing. Struggling with sight-reading? Practice sight reading. Struggling with scales? Practice scales! It’s important to have some discipline in your practice to keep getting better at your instrument.
Progress over perfection:
This is something I’ve struggled with before. Musicians can get so caught up in being perfect that it hinders any progress they could be making long-term. This one goes hand-in-hand with the first point – if you keep trying to perfect something you’re already good at, you will inherently neglect the weak points in your playing. The goal in the practice room is to be better at something than you were yesterday.
Embrace the process:
Like many things in life, there is no concrete end goal in terms of your ability with your instrument – it’s a never-ending process! Embrace the fact that you’re lucky enough to have music in your life and that you can get better at it every day. This is especially important to me, as the rest of my life is embracing the process of doing and getting better every day.
In these phrases, you will find things easier to narrow down and focus on what is really important to practice day-to-day. At the end of the day, practicing is to make you a better musician, and to make music even more fun than it was yesterday! It’s also important to remember that life will and does get in the way sometimes. When you simply can’t practice, there’s no need for guilt – go easy on yourself and recognize that you’ve done everything you can and you’re human. Life experiences, good and bad, only enhance and inform the music you play and make you a better musician.