How to Practice

Developing Good Habits

Practicing outside of ensemble rehearsals and weekly school lessons is ESSENTIAL to our success individually and as an ensemble. Consistent, daily practice is important. Gratification is not always instant with instrumental music, therefore developing good habits will help us through the good times and the bad. Success is dependent upon dedication and when it is achieved, it is worth so much more! So, how do I develop good practice habits?
  • Schedule a consistent, daily time for practice. Routine is important. 
  • Practice in a quiet space where you can focus. Turn off distractions - this means no cell phones, computers or television! In order to be an efficient and effective use of your time, you need to be mentally present during your practice session.
  • Consider keeping a practice journal. Jot down notes that remind you: what you worked on? Any questions you have for your next school lesson? Things you should work on tomorrow? Etc.
Schedules will always be busy - Set up a time to practice EVERY DAY.  Put the practice session into your day before the day begins.  Some days you may only have a few minutes to practice.  Practice anyway!  Pick something to do: scales, rudiments, a rough spot in the music, etc.

Practice Session Outline

Be MINDFUL in your practice.  Practice the things you can’t play.  Practice with a metronome.  Write things in to help you remember.  Count out your rhythms.  Blow through the phrases.  Do not play from the beginning to the end and keep going if there are mistakes.  15 minutes spent on a trouble-spot will help you play that spot even better the next time. 
ALWAYS warm up first - just like sports! Spend 5-10 minutes warming up. This is important to make sure you not only warm your instrument up, but that you also give your muscles time to warm up before you play repertoire.

Examples of warm-ups:
Long tones (with or without a drone)
Mouthpiece buzzing (brass players)
Articulation Exercises (with metronome)
5-Note Chromatic Drills (woodwinds)
Trumpet Scale Drill #1
Lip Slurs (brass)

After you are warmed up, take the time to practice assigned scales or etudes (additional instrument, specific repertoire).

Practice playing the arpeggio (1-3-5-1-5-3-1) after each scale. This semester, each instruments assigned scales can be found on our Microsoft Team page.

Band Repertoire
Do NOT play through the entire piece. Use the techniques we are learning in our group lessons to practice your band repertoire at home.

Find the challenging part and use some of the following techniques to help you break it down, learn it and put it back together!


PRACTICE RHYTHMS - one of Ms. Melvin's favorite exercises!
- Long-Short-Short
- Short-Short-Long
- Triplets
Remember stay with the Practice Rhythm - Do not move on to a new rhythm until you have mastered the one you are working on. After you have worked through the practice rhythms, go back to "as written". 

"The Moving Window"

Consider alternate fingerings

Practice Articulations
- All Tongued
- All Slurred
- Slur 2 - Tongue 2
- Tongue 2 - Slur 2
- Slur 3 - Tongue 1
- Tongue 1 - Slur 3