For #AMonthofFaves today, we’re talking about habits, routines, or rituals that worked for us this year. #AMonthOfFaves is an annual blog event hosted by Girlxoxo, Traveling with T, and Estella’s Revenge. You can hop in anytime, and find all of the prompts here.
This year I joined the #100DaysOfPractice challenge on Instagram. The goal was to practice for 100 days in a row. I missed a few days here and there, because I didn’t want to count heavy rehearsal/performance days where I was really just playing, not actively practicing. I also challenged myself to work on my weaker instruments, so my Instagram this year has plenty of embarrassing clarinet and saxophone clips.
For the flute family, I focused on staying in shape and focusing on aspects that aren’t as much a part of my daily playing. I pulled out some etudes, tone studies, and technical exercises I hadn’t looked at since college, and went for the really tough stuff. I worked on both flute and piccolo, and treated myself at the end of the challenge with the alto flute:
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I hate to say it, but I only practiced piano when I absolutely needed to. I wouldn’t say I stretched myself beyond learning what I had to learn for work. Apologies to my piano. Maybe one day I’ll be inspired to learn something just for fun, like the good ol’ days.
Originally I wanted to do the 100 Days of Practice challenge on harp only, but the need to practice other instruments (because musicals!) pressed into my schedule. But I got a lot done on harp! I ended up making some major changes to my overall technique that has greatly improved my playing and reduced strain on my right wrist, especially. And thanks to the wonders of technology, I played a couple duets with myself:
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I found a ton of clarinetists doing the 100 Days of Practice challenge, and that ended up being a gold mine. I picked up some etude books, finally felt comfortable playing around the infamous break, and learned some neat little tricks to help improve my sound. I went back and forth between synthetic and cane reeds, but haven’t really decided which I prefer yet. I played on a friend’s instrument and realized I’m at the point where I can’t improve much more on my super old, barely holding itself together clarinet. Sometime soon I’ll think about buying a new one.
For saxophone, I basically practiced every tip and trick Dan Gelok gave in his Instagram videos (that were within my reach). I went from not being able to get highest notes to speak at all to having no problem whatsoever in just a few days. Two of the musicals I played this year were sax-heavy, and I felt downright comfy getting around the instrument by the end of this challenge. I wish I’d spent more tone focusing on tone studies, though. That will be my main focus in the future.
100 Days of Practice Results
This challenge was great! I remembered that even when I’m super busy, I can usually squeeze in at least a few minutes to work on something. Harp is my favorite instrument to practice, and flute and piano are constants in my work life, so I don’t have to try too hard to keep up with those. But for clarinet and saxophone, this challenge was a huge success. I’m going to try my best to keep up with them, especially focusing on my sound, because I usually ignore both for long stretches of time … then I have to cram right before I need them for pit work. I’m playing Sister Act next summer, so it’d be great to go in there not having lost the skills I’ve acquired.
Do you play any musical instruments? If not, do you have any favorites to hear?