I have been practicing using the “Mix Up Your Practice Session” idea for the past 2 weeks now, and I must say, I notice my weekly requirements (etudes, bumping up scales and exercises to their designated tempi, etc.) happening much sooner into my weekly practicing! Although I am definitely stamping this idea with a “Plight of the Flutist APPROVED,” I have made some slight adjustments to the routine since my last blog post thanks to good old trial and error, as well as the insight of my teacher Robert Langevin.
So, if you have read my previous blog post, you know that the basic gist of the “Mix Up Your Practice Session” idea is to only spend a few minutes on one specific task, before moving on to the next. You cycle through these tasks, repeating some as needed, or practicing in different rhythms. In this way, it reminds me of the secret behind popular work-out routines such as P90X, which is muscle confusion (i.e. not letting your muscles get used to a particular work-out routine) so it never becomes “easy.” So this got me thinking “How can I really get the MOST out of mixing up my practice sessions?”
After consulting with Mr. Langevin, we came up with the idea of mixing up the mixed up practice sessions! Let’s say, for example, you are practicing scales for 5 minutes. Instead of practicing these scales in a straightforward manner, why not change them up by practicing your major scales in one dynamic (piano or forte) and your minor scales in the other dynamic? This sort of suggestion is already built in to the long tone routine that Mr. Langevin asks all of his students to do (non-vibrato the first time, both forte and piano, then a second time on the same long tone(s) with vibrato, forte then piano). So this is just ONE example of how you can mix up your practice sessions even more to reap the most benefits!
Another way to mix up your practicing is to develop a new routine from time to time. For me, I chose to change my routine from week to week. Practicing the same material, in the same order every day for weeks on end, no matter how much you “mix it up” can become just as tiresome as practicing one piece or exercise for hours at a time. Just a small example: the first week, I chose to start out with long tones. The second week, I chose to start my daily practicing with a set of scales. Just this simple change can be enough to revitalize your practice sessions and throw your mind and body into something NEW.
In other words, don’t be afraid to mix up your mixed up practice sessions! Have fun with it since after all, practicing is supposed to be FUN, right?
Avoid fatigue and boredom and MIX IT UP to really get the most out of your practice sessions!