by Jamey Mann, Catoctin School of Music
Every musician comes to the point where they become very busy. A robust teaching schedule, consistent gigging, performance jobs, or continuing education can make finding time to practice difficult even for accomplished musicians (yes, we must still practice). This is true for adult students as well. In fact, it is more important for students still learning the instrument to have a maintenance routine for when life gets busy, so they can hold on to skills and knowledge that are still new to them.
Everyone’s maintenance routine and length will be different depending on their skill level and individual needs. This routine should be designed to maintain skills, and not be overly challenging to the point that a student feels overwhelmed or stressed out over it.
The following is a list of suggestions to help develop a solid maintenance routine.
- Time– I suggest 30 minutes to an hour depending on playing ability and how busy you are. Spitting up practice sessions over the course of a day makes it even easier to focus on specific techniques.
- Memorized pieces and/or studies– This is not time for learning new music. Memorized music will allow you to get right into practicing without wasting time looking for music or needing a music stand. You will be able to focus without going through the learning process of a new piece.
- New Approach to old music- Since using music we already know for this practice session it gives us the opportunity to approach it differently. Working in new dynamics, tempos, or rhythmic variations is a great way to get more out of studies you already know.
- Technical Studies, scales, arpeggios – every student should have many scales and technical studies memorized. These do not require reading music and can be practiced any time and place. Student can work on just about every musical concept such as tone, dynamics, articulations, etc. with studies or scales.
- Sight Reading- Often overlooked sight reading is a perishable skill that all musicians need to practice. To practice this, I often suggest sightreadingfactory.com . This website provides fantastic studies for sight reading for all ability levels.
The important thing to remember is that these suggestions are for maintaining knowledge and skills for when life gets crazy. Try to keep this routine brief and concise. I suggest speaking with your teacher to help customize this routine to get the most out of it.