The best laid plans…

You had the best intentions to practice your butt off all summer…but then Aunt Tina called and said she and the kids would be visiting. And you couldn’t pass up the chance to go to Universal Studios with your buddies (discounted tickets, too!). Oh, and summer really is the best time to finally get rid of those wisdom teeth–oh, that hurt!

Whatever the excuses, you now realize that auditions are happening soon and you are required to play Tombeau de Couperin and the Brahms Violin Concerto. Or you’re looking at your symphony season and see that the first concert features Daphnis and Chloe. Uh-oh. Not wanting to be shamed, you decide to double down on your practicing. But don’t let panic rule how you practice. If you practice smart, you can get a lot accomplished, and avoid mental and physical stress. Despite all the information getting out to musicians about health issues related to playing an instrument, a recent survey of college students still reports that a large majority of double reed players are experiencing pain from playing.

There are a lot of repetitive movements associated with playing double reed instruments. If you haven’t been playing on a regular basis and immediately jump back into a rigorous practice schedule, you could be setting yourself up for pain or injury. So take time to consider how you practice. Sometimes incorporating time for simple stretches to warm your body up can help. Splitting up physical practice time with time for mental practice and visualizations can be enormously useful as well. The short video I produced “Practice Tips” has some information on how to practice smart as you get back into the swing of things with your playing. I hope you find it useful and will share it with friends and students.

With just a little planning, you can have productive and purposeful practice sessions, with positive musical outcomes, as well as positive physical outcomes.