Diligent students often put in many hours preparing for weekly flute lessons only to find that they are not fully prepared. Simply putting in the hours is not always enough. Use the following checklist during practice sessions to ensure that you are doing everything possible to prepare.
1. If one is available, listen to a recording of the piece or to other music by the composer to get a concept of musicality and style.
2. Look at the title of the piece and think about what it means or implies about the piece’s style.
3. Know what key the piece is in. Practice scales and arpeggios in that key.
4. Look up foreign terms or markings in the music that you don’t know.
5. Check that you have learned all of the rhythms accurately.
6. Practice with a metronome.
7. Speak, sing, clap, and conduct difficult metric or rhythmic changes.
8. If the piece is performed with piano, study the piano score.
9. Use creative exercises to solve technical problems.
10. Group runs or sequences of more than four notes into smaller groups for greater technical understanding and accuracy.
11. If the piece has trills, make sure you use accurate trill fingerings.
12. Plan the number of revolutions in the trills, and know which note the trill should start from and how it should resolve.
13. Check all details pertaining to articulation, dynamic, and stylistic markings.
14. Practice difficult intonation passages with a tuner.
15. Plan the breathing, not only for necessity, but for the phrase structure of the music.
16. Investigate any special fingerings or techniques.
17. Check whether you are using the highest quality and most efficient sound on all notes.
18. Have a plan, intention, and function for every note of the music.
19. Record yourself in the practice room, listening carefully for all of these elements.
20. If you are still not sture what to do after looking for all possible solutions for questions, make a note of the passage in question to ask at the next lesson.
Be your own best teacher. Have respect for yourself, your teacher, and most importantly, the music. Use lesson time for reaching new levels, not fixing basic errors that should be solved in the practice room. No matter at what level you are, set goals and see how much you can achieve.