Pro-tips for efficient practicing!
#1 Break things down into "digestible bites." This means to play one measure or note at a time until it's correct and then put each piece together. For example, play measure 1 until correct. Then play measure 2 until it's correct. Now combine measures 1 and 2 until correct. Add measure 3... and so on...
#2 Practice at the same time each day. If you practice at approximately the same time of day each day then your brain will remember and process things more efficiently. It has to do with the fact that your brain works best in routines. When you practice consistently then your brain knows how long it has to process the information each day and will produce better results. This is why having band every day has such a large impact on your playing abilities.
#3 Listen to recordings of pieces, but don't play along with them every time. You should learn the notes and rhythms on your own. Occasionally playing with the recording is OK, but if you do it all the time you will rely on that to be able to play. Everyone should be able to play their parts individually to be the most successful.
#4 Download a metronome app, use the metronome on the website link that is on the 'Help & Games' page, or buy one. A metronome will force you to keep a steady tempo while practicing. It especially helps when the piece is very slow or very fast.
#5 Download a tuner app or buy a tuner. Tuners will help you to play in tune yourself for practice purposes, but also help you tune yourself before performances.
#6 If you have a piano (that's been tuned recently) then practice with it. Remember it reads concert pitch music so a 'G' on the piano will not be a 'G' for you if you play a Bb, Eb, or F transposing instrument. If you need help with the transposition difference ask me and I'll help you out!
#7 For strong dynamics, it isn't about using less air for soft or more air for loud. Soft playing should still be supported by plenty of air so that your pitch doesn't bend. Instead strong dynamics are the control of the air. The only way to play louder or softer with lots of air is through lots of practice.
#8 Brass players! Having some trouble getting better? Check out this article and maybe it will give you some ideas! Feel free to ask me any questions! http://dansr.com/wick/articles/609/four-fundamentals-of-troubleshooting-for-brass-players-by-bobby-shew/
#9 The best way to practice DYNAMICS - Pick your favorite note (or a note that you can play really well). While holding that note out try to play softer and louder like a siren. To do that make sure you're controlling the air stream by keeping the embouchure firm and not moving. If you don't then the note may squeak (for woodwinds) or have a really bad tone quality (for woodwinds and brass). PERCUSSION should work on striking the note softer and harder trying to emulate a siren as well.
#10 When working on Accents please make sure that the note sticks out, but does not sound significantly louder than the other notes. Make sure that you are using more air AND more tongue, not just one or the other. Finally, make sure that you are playing the accented notes with good tone quality. Don't sound like you're throwing up through the instrument!
#11 FAST passages - When working on a part that is particularly fast then start slow. VERY slow. After you've mastered it at a slow tempo then go just a little faster. Master it at that tempo and repeat. Do this until you can play it a little faster than the actual tempo. You do this because then when you play it at the actual tempo it will seem slow and your brain will have more time to process the information.
#12 Just practicing for an hour or two doesn’t mean that you’re practicing effectively. Quantity does not equal Quality. You need to focus your practicing so that you are achieving a goal and improving, not just playing the same mistakes for a long period of time.
#13 Practice something fun! Practicing should be about getting better at something specific, but it should also be about enjoying playing your instrument too. Find your favorite song online and learn to play it or play your favorite exercise from one of the books. Enjoy yourself as much as you work hard to get better!