Should I Use a Practice Journal?

Practicing music should be fun. Plain and simple. Any practice that you don’t at least slightly enjoy will not be as beneficial. Thus brings the question: should you use a practice journal?

Hannah B Flute | Should I Use a Practice Journal?

A practice journal allows you to track your practicing. You can use whatever method to track your practice. Choose a method that works for you. If your practice journal doesn’t fit your needs, you will be less inclined to use it. Continue reading “Should I Use a Practice Journal?”

How to Organize Your Practice Space

Whether you just have a music locker or a full room dedicated to practice, you need to keep it organized. You need to be able to find pieces and exercise books when you need them. So, I’m sharing my tips for how to organize your practice space.

Hannah B Flute | How to Organize Your Practice Space

Currently, I have a whole wall in my bedroom that is dedicated to my music stuff. And that doesn’t include a bookshelf for music and books that I’m not using at the moment. Continue reading “How to Organize Your Practice Space”

Planners: Digital vs. Paper

If you are a busy person, working a day job in addition to playing music, you need to stay organized. The way many people stay organized is with a planner. A common planner system is the paper planner.

With the advancement of technology, there has also been an increase in the number of digital planners. From Google Calendar to iCal, you can keep track of appointments on all of your devices.

Hannah B Flute | Planners: Digital vs Paper

In this post, I am going to compare and contrast these two methods of organization to help you decide which is right for you. After all, the new year is a great time to switch things up. Continue reading “Planners: Digital vs. Paper”

How to Practice without Your Instrument

After coming down with a cold recently, I thought it would be the perfect time to write about practicing flute without your flute. There are multiple reasons why you might need to do this.

If you’re sick, if your flute is in the shop, or even if a roommate or family member needs quiet, you may need to find other ways to “practice” than simply picking up your instrument.

Hannah B Flute | Practicing without Your Instrument

These ideas are not the same as playing your instrument, but they can help you improve your skills. At the very least, you can learn a little bit more about your instrument.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Click here for my full disclosure policy.

Listen to recordings

I have mentioned this before, but you can learn a lot about music from listening to some recordings. If you are learning a new piece of music, recordings will give you a sense of the tempo and the feel of the piece.

You can also listen to recordings after you have learned a piece. This will help you figure out how others interpret the music. You can then create your own unique version of the piece.

If you are playing an arrangement (i.e. a piece not written originally for your instrument), you can listen to recordings on the original instrument. This will give you a good idea as to how the composer wanted the piece to sound. Each instrument does have its own quirks after all.

Related: The Importance of Listening

Watch videos/read blogs

If you can’t practice your instrument, you can learn about it. Get on YouTube or social media and watch videos or read blogs. The internet is a great place to learn about music.

A lot of videos and blogs are free to use, and there are some premium sites where you can spend a bit of money for more specialized content. I am working on premium content, and I hope to release some of it early next year.

However, there are tons of great websites where you can learn about music and the flute. This blog is, of course, one of those resources. I also have a ton of other favorites that I wrote about awhile back.

Related: Online Resources & Websites for Music

Study the scores

Whether you are working on a solo piece or an ensemble work, you can study the score. I wrote a whole post on how to get started with score study, so use those tips to help.

Studying a music score allows you to know what other players are doing. You can compare the different parts to your own. This means you can change how you play a certain phrase based on what else is happening.

I don’t study scores as much as I should, but when I do, I am able to make more educated decisions for tempo, articulation, and dynamics. Score study also tells me where I am in a chord. Am I the root? The third? The fifth?

Related: The What & Why of Score Study

Brush up on theory

If you are fairly new to your instrument, or even if you have been playing for years, you can always study up on music theory. Music theory (and ear training) is at the core of music.

You need to have a working knowledge of music theory to know how music works. Solid ear training also helps you “hear” a phrase or piece before playing.

You can check out music theory books or download an ear training app to your phone. With a book or app, you can practice in the comfort of your own bed, even when you’re super sick.

Recommended: Guide to Music Theory

Rest. A lot…

This tip doesn’t exactly relate to flute playing or to practicing without your flute. It does, however, help you get back to flute playing sooner rather than later.

Winter is approaching, and that means so is cold and flu season. If at all possible, don’t be afraid to take a few days off from the flute. If you’re really sick, you want to recover. Playing while sick isn’t productive.

Heck, sometimes music study isn’t even productive when you’re sick. So listen to your body and know when you should take a break. Sometimes it is more important to sleep than to prepare for you next performance.

I have had to perform while sick…twice. And it wasn’t fun. I got through it, but I didn’t push myself. As soon as the performance was over, I left. I went to sleep. I rested. Your health is important. Don’t let a performance or practice session impede your recovery.

So…

Have you played flute while sick? Were you able to take time off to get better? Let me know in the comments!

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How to Balance Music & Life

Whether you are an amateur, student, or professional musician, you probably have other responsibilities outside of music. So, it is important to know how to balance music and life.

Like anything else, you need to make time for practicing and performing, but you can’t neglect your other commitments. I have recently accepted a full time job outside of the music and blogging fields, and so I have had to figure out how to keep up with everything.

Killer Harmony | How to Balance Music and Life | Grey background with text "How to Balance music & life" (maroon) "for musicians" (teal)

It takes time to figure out how you what you need to do to balance your time. But if music is something you love, you will make time for it, no matter your professional or personal life.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you balance music and life.

1. Know your priorities.

While it would be great to play music all of the time, that’s just not feasible. Even professional musicians need a break to focus on other tasks, like scheduling and emailing.

If you have a job or classes outside of music, those things should take priority over music. It may be hard to focus on other things, especially for music majors, but it’s necessary. You can’t ignore your general education classes.

The same goes for anyone working outside of music. You have to show up to work on time and do your job. That’s not something you can get out of. So keep up with your instrument when you can.

2. Make a schedule.

If you can’t seem to practice as much as you would like, set a practice schedule. Work it into your routine. While it may be tempting to go watch TV after dinner, practicing first can help keep your love of music alive.

If your schedule will be changing soon, try and create a practice routine to fit that new schedule. You don’t have to practice for hours (even you pros out there…). Just practice as much as you need to accomplish what you need.

Time based goals can be great, but two hours of mindless practice don’t do you any good. It’s better to practice with and end goal for thirty minutes. Then you can actually evaluate what you did.

3. Find your stride.

When do you practice best? Are you an early bird? Do you work best in the evening? Can you practice during a lunch break? Figure out what time of day works best for you.

Doing this will allow you to get more done in less time. Even with a goal, if you are not fully awake, your practice session won’t be worth it. If you are a professional, you may need to practice more, but you don’t need to spend hours playing.

Practicing too much can cause you to develop a repetitive stress injury. You can ruin your vocal cords, develop tendonitis, or worse. You could hurt yourself to the point of having to stop playing. So don’t over do it.

4. Find music that you can play but will still challenge you.

If music is not your profession, you probably don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to it. If that is the case, find music that is only slightly difficult. You should still challenge yourself, but you don’t need to take on the most difficult work for your instrument.

Choose pieces that give you a small challenge, and be realistic about how fast you can learn them. If you are playing for fun, do just that. Don’t stress yourself out over learning a Hindemith sonata or a Mozart concerto.

A small challenge will allow you to improve quickly so you can take on more advanced music later on. You don’t want to rush into anything too hard before you are ready.

5. Join a community group.

Seek out community music groups and other playing opportunities to keep you motivated. If you are not in school and don’t have any professional groups to join, community groups are a great way to play with others.

You can meet all different types of people, and you can come together to do something you love. Groups can also be a nice change from solo repertoire. You can expose yourself to more music. It also gives you an excuse to perform in front of people.

There are tons of different groups, from choirs to bands to orchestras. You can also find instrument specific groups, such as a flute choir. The camaraderie you get from playing in a group can’t be matched by just playing solos.

6. Don’t stress about it.

Having an off day and don’t feel like playing? That’s okay. While you might not want to make a habit out of it, everyone has those days where they just want to get under a blanket and watch Netflix.

If you have a day where music just can’t fit, don’t stress too much. Music is supposed to be fun. If it doesn’t feel fun one day, then take a break. A small break from playing could help revive your passion the following day or week.

So…

How do you juggle music and life? Leave your tips and tricks down in the comments!

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