This is the story of how one simple piece of kit (apparatus, if you’e not English!) completely changed my practice regimes and helped to make me a better recorder player.
For my birthday, my lovely husband commissioned a local wood turner, Jonathan Rees, to make me a recorder stand. Initially the idea was that I would be able to take it along to quartet rehearsals and have my instruments all together, instead of them lying around on the floor all higgledy.
Actually, I haven’t used it for that at all.
One day, I began to think about all the little fragments of time that can get wasted during a day – waiting for the kettle to boil, waiting for an Alexander Technique student to arrive, and so one – and wondering how I could make better use of them. And then I looked at the recorder stand.
It suddenly occurred to me that, if Dame Nellie Melba is correct, and small parcels of practice time can be just as effective (if not more effective) than lengthy periods, that I could utilise these little scraps of time for recorder practice. And the best way to do that would be if I didn’t put my instruments away, but left them on the recorder stand, ready for use.
So I tried it out. I left the recorders on the stand, and left the music stand out and ready, too. And any time I had a few minutes lying spare, I would pick a recorder, pick a few bars of music, and play.
The result of this little experiment has been extraordinary.
- I have practiced more. I am putting in more time than I ever have before, but in small pockets spread throughout the day.
- I have become more proficient. Quite simply, I am playing better.
- I have enjoyed myself. Practice has become a keener pleasure than I have ever experienced before. I find myself itching to pick up an instrument and play. It has become an extension of my thought processes.
So here are my tips for improving your practice:
- Keep the instruments out! Get yourself a really nice stand so that you’ll be happy to keep them on display.
- Be on the alert for those spare minutes when you can play.
- In those spare minutes, pick one or two phrases, and work on those. Or just one scale.
- Remember to look after your instruments. They will still need checking over, and the joints greasing, at the end of the day.
Try this, and let me know how it turns out!