Hello there! Welcome to my blog exclusively devoted to teaching and learning how to play the flute. I like to think that this page will be helpful to teachers and students alike. Hopefully, some flutists will find my methods useful when it comes to teaching their own students, and my students will benefit from having some additional material to guide them on the 6 days of the week they don't have lessons! Follow my hashtag #torisflutetips on social media for even more flute content! ♬
How to Effectively Practice, Part 1: Get your body ready!
Tuesday, September 11, 2018 by Tori Lupinek | Body
A couple weeks ago at the very end of a group lesson, a high school student asked me how I practice. I couldn't possibly answer that question in the short minutes before my next group of students came in! So, I told her I would write a blog post about it. And now I'm finding that it would take many, MANY blog posts to fully answer that question. SO, here it goes! The first entry in a multi-part series on how to effectively practice!
Maybe my high schoolers who I see at 7:20am on Monday mornings think that I start the day with stretching because its early, I'm tired, I'm trying to take up some time in our short 53 minute group lesson. YES, 7:20 is early on a Monday morning, and I haven't had to be at a high school at that time of day since... well, since I was in high school. So maybe yes, I am also a little tired. But I am definitely NOT squandering the very short 53 minutes we have together!
I explain to my students the importance of stretching before practicing or sitting down for band rehearsal. There are many good reasons:
1) Wake up the body, warmup the body.
2) Bring attention to areas of tension and stretch it out.
3) Counteract some of the negative effects of gravity. Find your best posture.
4) Alert your body that you are getting ready to go into flute-playing mode and encourage it to act accordingly.
The great orchestral flutist Jeanne Baxtresser coined the phrase now very common in the music world, "[musicians are] athletes of the small muscles." While we may not be using big muscles to tackle 250-pound linemen on the football field, we are most definitely using our "fine tuner" muscles to make a great sound on our instrument. Here are just a few of those muscles:
5) Chest, intercostal muscles
6) Abs, and all your stabilizer muscles
7) All your arm muscles, plus the tiny muscles in your hands and fingers
8) Every single muscle in the bottom half of your body when you're standing and practicing, or marching on the football field.
This is definitely something to think about! Athletes don't jump right into practice without warming up their bodies first, so why should we???
Here are some of my personal favorite stretches that help me to feel ready to start playing for the day:
1) Scrunch up your face, then open up everything as wide as you can, including your eyes and mouth.
2) Neck rolls
4) Neck stretch: Reach over the top of your head with your right arm. Place your right hand on your left ear and gentle pull your head to the right, drawing your head to your shoulder. Repeat on other side.
5) Big overhead stretch and backbend. Then stretch both sides. Especially the right side, which has a tendency to collapse while we're playing if we aren't conscious of it.
6) Forward fold
7) Wrist rolls
8) Goal-post arms chest stretch
There you have it! Just some good, basic stretches are all you need to wakeup and warmup your body, and be ready to make your absolute best flute sound with your first note of the day. Happy stretching! ☺