How to get back in playing shape when going back to school
Updated: Sep 13, 2021
As some of you may already know, I took two years off between my Bachelors and Masters degrees and if anyone knows how hard it is to get back in playing shape after a long break it's me. A lot of students are getting ready to take ensemble auditions for band and orchestra and some people are getting ready for their first lesson with their private teacher ( It applies for first time college students, first year grad students, first year artist diploma students, and first year doctoral students). If you want to know my tips for getting back in shape in time for the first day of school, then keep on reading!😊
1. Practice with a tuner/drone
As an instrumentalist, the most important tool that you can have in your backpack is a tuner. If you're a singer reading my blog, I suggest that you get yourself a pitch pipe. The worst thing that can happen during your first band/orchestra rehearsal is when your conductor gives the first downbeat and your first note is either 20 cents sharp or 20 cents flat.😩 For that not to happen, you would have to tune carefully before your band director/orchestra conductor comes on the podium and I would also add that working on your intonation a little bit every day will help stabilize your sound.☺️
2. Work on your technique
It is vital for any serious musician to work on your technique because when one works on their technique, it will be easier to tackle technical passages of whatever repertoire you are working on. You can also work on your technique by chunking (This is a tip that I first learned in undergrad, but I didn't really put it to good use until I got to my masters). 😃I would also suggest that you buy the holy grail technique books of your instrument; For flutists, the number one holy grail technique book is the Taffanel and Gaubert 17 Daily Exercises.😍
3. Document your practice
When I say document your practice, what I really mean is to record yourself and to write down what you are working on in your practice sessions in your practice journal. I am going to be open and transparent; I did not keep a practice journal nor start to record myself until I was in the two year gap between my Bachelors and Masters (By the way, there is nothing wrong with taking time off in between degrees) because 1) I didn't think that there was a need for me to keep a practice journal (Now I do) and 2) I hated hearing my own sound (Now I can tolerate my own sound, and I try to give myself credit when I play something well). Documenting your practice will help you in the long run!❤️
Bonus: Make sure that your instrument is in working condition!!!!!
There is nothing worse than coming back to school with a broken instrument (Trust me, I know how discouraging it is to not get the results that you want with an instrument that is not in good condition) and I would recommend getting maintenance done to your instrument (whether it's getting COA (COA stands for Clean, Oil, and Adjust and it's similar to getting an oil change done to your car) done if you're a flutist, or if you're a string player getting your bow re-haired or if you're a pianist, getting your piano tuned by a professional ) during the summer. Once you do that, you will have the peace of mind knowing that your instrument is ready to go for the new school year.😁
Thanks for reading up until the end!!!
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