Question: How much should I practice?
Answer: The flute, like any other instrument, requires daily practice in addition to lessons. Even after you have a career, you may want an occasional lesson now and then. How much time a flutist practices varies from one person to the next. Part of determining the length of time is based upon your ability to concentrate. Practice should be devoted to technique and sound.
Technique and Sound
In developing a technique, you choose short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals focus on body position, paying special attention to the arms, hands and fingers, and playing with a great sound while focusing on the shape of the mouth and the use of the tongue. Long-term goals center on the agility of the fingers. This includes playing all of the intervals and having a homogenous sound throughout the registers. Short-term goals lead to long-term success.
Flutists in the past started each morning by playing a pianissimo top octave A. If the sound was not pure and clean, they knew they had to practice that day. To be successful today, daily practice is required. Be sure to practice with a metronome, increasing or decreasing the tempos each day.
Daily practice should be as efficient as possible and for me takes about four hours. I divide the time in the following way:
Hour 1: At first, I play a little fragment of something I like to warm up. I follow this with sound/tone exercises in all three octaves of the flute. Some exercises ascend, while others descend. My goal is to achieve homogeneity between all three registers.
Hour 2: I work on all of the major and minor scales in all forms. I also work on the top octave notes for fingering ease and dynamic control. I do harmonic work for embouchure flexibility and finding the beauty in the sound and practice double and triple tonguing. I also practice becoming flexible in playing arpeggios and spend time on legato playing.
Hour 3: For this hour I focus of etudes. I select ones from different style periods so that the work I do here, both stylistically and technically, will enhance performing my repertoire.
Hour 4: To finish daily practice, I work on solo and orchestral repertoire.
Use your practice time efficiently. Good practice habits today will pay off in the future. It takes time to develop a technical foundation. Daily practicing for me provides enjoyment as I try to make each element of my practice exciting. It is an outlet for my passion for music.
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