Practice anxiety: tool #1

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Paul Edmund-Davies, image from his website Simply Flute, which you should check out.

Paul Edmund-Davies, image from his website Simply Flute, which you should check out.

Daily tech practice/warm-up routine

Why? Daily practice is what we are aiming for here, and we want to make it as easy as humanly possible to get started each and every day. One thing that really helps you to get a feeling of consistency is getting onto a streak – sometimes the anxiety of breaking the streak can trump the anxiety of starting to practice! A pre-determined daily routine eliminates the need to make decisions about what you are going to practice before you begin, which can be a significant hurdle. Once you have completed your routine, you’ll feel fitter and will have a sense of accomplishment, which will make it easier to move onto other (scarier) things.

What? Depending on your current level, your teacher may help you draw up a daily technical workout. Ideally, it shouldn’t take up more than a third of your total daily practice time, it should cover all your bases (sonority/tone, finger technique, articulation, intervals/flexibility), and it should straddle that divide between being comfortable (within your capabilities as a player, allowing you to reacquaint yourself with your instrument) and just challenging enough to be interesting. For fairly advanced players, I can really recommend Paul Edmund-Davies’ “28 Day Warm-Up Book”. Choose something melodious and enjoyable, and certainly not just the most difficult finger exercises you can find. Change things up each day – it’s great if you can create a kind of weekly schedule where you can cycle through different exercises.

Be careful! The biggest danger with this one for me is falling off the streak. It can be really tempting to wait for a nice clean Monday to restart your routine, and then if you missthat things can get really hairy… If you miss a day (or two, or three) it’s a good opportunity to challenge “all or nothing” thinking, and either just pick up where you left off, or with the schedule for the day you’re restarting on. Consider giving yourself a serious reward for restarting.

Do you have a daily technique or warm-up routine? How do you keep it interesting? Does it help you get started?

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