Press Publish Inspires My Music Practice

Press Publish logoToday, I attended #PressPublish, a day-long WordPress blogging conference run by the folks at Automattic.  My intention for attending was to get the spark back into my writing here @ and be inspired to want to write again.

Great day! I came home super inspired and after decompressing about the day with Anita and hearing about her day, I went into my studio and practiced… for 90 minutes.

soprano saxMy plan was to practice and warm up on my soprano sax and practice concert music on soprano and then get my alto out and practice the alto concert music. I thought maybe I’d spend an hour doing that.

So much for plans. I never made it to my alto sax! And I practiced longer than 60 minutes.

What’s in a practice session?

I want to share with you the details of my practice session because I think that sometimes we music teachers are a little too mysterious about what we mean when we say “you need to practice that music.”

6:00 I pulled out Steven Mauk’s Saxophone Warm-Ups, Materials For The Contemporary Saxophonist. Starting on page 20, I played longtones through the whole range of my horn. Including high F# and G. I only recently figured out the special fingerings for those altissimo notes since my particular model doesn’t have the front alt-F key.

6:15 I played the intonation study on p. 21 using my tuner to ensure my intonation was accurate over the octave, fifth and third.

6:30 Steven has written a series of musical exercises that warm up your fingers progressively. I played the exercises from p 23-30.

6:50 I pulled up Millennium Canons by Kevin Matthew Puts. Saxophone instrumentation for this piece is SAATB (soprano, alto 1, alto 2, tenor, baritone saxes). I spent the majority of my time on just 14 measures on the first page. In rehearsals, I found myself getting off by a beat, sometimes half a beat during this section.

Starting with measure 39, I practiced it with a metronome to make sure I was getting the articulation and rhythm correct. Once I was solid on m39, I played m37-39, repeating those measures until the rhythm and articulation felt comfortable to me; until I felt confident I could play it without error.

I kept building backwards the number of measures I was practicing. So, next was m35-39. Then m33-39. Eventually working my way back to m26-39.

Time-consuming and worth every minute

It is now 7:13. I have worked on 14 measures of one piece for 23 minutes! It was totally worth it since I now feel confident and comfortable playing this without tripping over that slur in m28 or that other ‘problem spot’ in m39.

7:15 I spend the next 15 minutes touching some sections of the remaining soprano sax music for next Saturday’s concert. At 7:30, I feel happily tired and satisfied with my work.

Inspiration for practice or writing?

Looks like today’s Press Publish conference was inspiration for both my music practice and my blogging practice.

What inspires you to practice your instrument? When you’re inspired to practice, do you practice longer than  usual? How is your practice different when you are inspired to practice versus practicing because you have to?

If you’re a writer, what inspires you to write?

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