The Freckled Flutist
Why Recording Your Practice Session Isn't Overrated
RECORDING YOUR PRACTICE SESSIONS ISN’T OVERRATED.
Since I have been out of music school (and even when I was in school), I felt like most of my practice sessions have been in a stressful time CRUNCH.
All I can remember thinking is, “I have to get Exercise A done first, then go to Exercise B, then Exercise C, then Music D…” and so on, just so I could get EVERYTHING done in a limited amount of time.
I would list WHAT I practiced, and not necessarily write down HOW I practiced.
As the listing continued, I felt productive that I had a chance to even practice my flute, but I also wasn’t sure if I was actually progressing. Any new piece, etude or exercise that I encountered felt challenging upon first glance AND even in the process, so my goals in completing them were never met.
Eventually, the dissatisfaction in my performance results made me feel unmotivated to pick up my flute.
When I wanted to get back into a regular practice routine, I wanted to approach a routine that
would be right for me in positivity & productivity. That meant:
Approaching exercises that I’ve never dug into before. They would be refreshing yet challenging in certain areas, and they would get me to WORK on my basic concepts.
Finding pieces or excerpts that inspired me. Whether they were completely brand new to my eyes & ears, or a familiar face that had been on my music stand before.
After finding my rep and making the time, I decided to journal my practicing in the process.
I would start with my warmup, then jot down bits & pieces like:
Asking about my Body Awareness. Does my throat feel tight? Did I feel a balance where my feet could touch the ground? Were my fingers a little strained during my scales?
Finding my Flute Focus Points. Achieving consistent pitch with softer dynamics (Shout out to the 3rd octave!) Feeling more comfortable & confident with the B Major scale.
Struggles & Triumphs: My double tonguing didn’t sound labored & my sound came out in Excerpt A, but I definitely crunched the notes in certain technical spots.
Now, as someone who is ALWAYS on the go every day, this process tested my patience since I like timing my practice sessions into a few 30-minute increments. From this challenging process, I have absorbed more information about myself as a musician, and my practicing feels more efficient & effective when going back to previous logs. It’s motivating, fresh & I’ve become more aware on what I’m doing while “fluting” in action.
I think about how I say it to my students when they are learning a new piece of music or encountering a new exercise:
“It’s not about how fast you can go, and how quickly you can work through it in a certain amount of time. Think of the quality you’re bringing to this piece of music, and how it is benefiting your practice skills & performance results.” (Can you say, practice what you preach?)
I ask you musician friends; do you record your practice sessions?
If YES, how? What is working for you? Do you feel like trying something new in the practice grind?
If you answered NO, I challenge you to give it a try. If writing it down isn’t your style, take that fancy iPhone 11 of yours, record your practice, listen back & take a mental note on your goals for the next time. I know you can do it!
We can play our instruments all day long with the most flawless technique & consistently be in tune with wonderful sound, but it is being in tune with ourselves that guides our way there.