How to Prevent Your ‘Bad Practicing Day’ From Coming Back
Ory’s Flute Tips
Have you ever experienced a ‘bad practicing day’? A day in which nothing you have done seemed to work? A practice session in which you had the feeling you can’t get any proper tone and you had no idea what happened and why this was happening to you? How often does it happen to you?
Let me first tell you that it’s really OK if such a day happens and it should not discourage you from keeping practicing and improving. Nevertheless, you can reduce significantly the chances that such days will happen again by changing the way you practice and your use of your warm-up routine.
The forecast: a ‘Bad practicing day’ is approaching
Let me ask you the next question:
How long do you need at the beginning of your practicing session/day before you are happy with your tone quality? Does it take a few seconds? Few minutes? Half an hour? A full hour of warm-up exercises maybe?
You’ll be surprised, but in fact, the longer time you’ve answered that you’d need, the higher are the chances that such ‘bad practicing days’ will appear.
Why does a ‘bad practicing day’ happen?
In general, I believe these are the 2 main reasons for such days to happen:
- The mental aspect – concentration, motivation, and mental focus difficulties
- The physical aspect – confusion and lack of control over your muscles
The first reason is really under your control and you’re the only one who can help yourself. You might have all kinds of thoughts and worries about for example the coming concerts, exams, personal life matters, and many other thoughts that might distract your mind from focusing during your practicing session. In addition, you’ve got your mobile phone ringing every few minutes with calls or notifications which don’t help either for your concentration.
Lack of motivation can have an effect as well on you and can contribute to your thoughts wandering away from practicing.
When you start practicing, make sure you help yourself to resist all of these exterior temptations that very likely will affect your concentration: turn off the WiFi, shut off the phone’s sound, turn off your computer. Put them even in a different room or in a place where you can’t see them constantly. Try to empty your mind from all worries and thoughts and get ready to focus on your playing – and more importantly, the physical feeling of playing (or in other words: how do your muscles feel when you play and how can you repeat this feeling?).
The physical part is a bit harder to achieve on your own (at least at the beginning you could really use some guidance) but it’s far more effective than any other practicing method and it will help you as well with the concentration issue.
Become the Flutist You Wish to Hear.
Quickly and Efficiently.
It’s time to get physical
Let me surprise you: You could have an excellent tone quality from the first note you play at the beginning of your practicing day. The warm-up routine will eventually be used for fine-tuning of your muscles and control over the flute and expanding your limits even further.
If you do need half an hour or an hour before you could play with good tone quality, then I suspect that both you and your muscles (or more precisely, your brain that send the commands to your muscles) are somewhat confused and not sure of what exactly you should do in order to get a good tone from the first moment.
In order to change that, what you’ll have to do is to develop your awareness of the physical feeling and your physical control over your muscles. Only when you’ll know exactly how it physically feels to play a note with good tone quality, will you be able to repeat it instantly at any moment you wish. This is in fact as well exactly what your warm-up routine should aim at and achieve – your control over your body and your muscles.
The other benefit of this physical approach is that you will be much more resistant in stressful situations (such as auditions and concerts). You’ll gain much quicker access in your brain to the commands that control your muscles and stress will not interrupt anymore this process – meaning you won’t lose your tone quality even when you’re under stress.
You might think that such a change would take a very long time to achieve, but as I’ve experienced with all the students in my intensive masterclasses, all you need are only a few days of very focused and intensive work. Avoiding the ‘bad practicing days’ is in your hands and I’m more than sure that you can eliminate them completely with the right mindset and practicing routine.
You are very welcome to leave your comments and questions,
Ory Schneor is a principal flutist with the Munich Chamber Orchestra, Tongyeong Festival Orchestra and member of the Geneva Camerata. He is teaching masterclasses around the world and he is the founder and instructor at FLUTEinWIEN – Intensive Masterclasses in Vienna.