Life After Music School - Maintaining Your Craft


For those of you who have been reading the blog, this was one of the three points in the first post of this series. Over the years I have found colleagues where this the easiest part of being a musician, and for others the most difficult. I fall into the later, so let me give you a glimpse into how I go about maintaining & improving my playing as a musician.

This is a constant struggle for me as a musician. I am constantly finding new ways to reinvent practicing for myself to stay interested. One constant I have found most useful is keeping to a schedule or routine. I have laid out a two and a half to three hour routine I like to do at least once a day, and when possible twice. My routine is loosely inspired by what Christian Lindberg posted on YouTube about a year ago. While not as regimented, its designed so I can accomplish most in a morning before moving on to teaching or rehearsals for the day. It currently looks like this:

Meditate 15 min

Bike 30 min

Shower 5-10 min

Practice 60 min (2:1 ratio)

Meditate 10 min

Compose 30 min

On my heavy teaching days or double rehearsal days I may drop the practicing for a brief warm up. On Monday's (my day off) I'll double up to ensure I have that weeks music ready. On weeks I don't have rehearsals I'll add in lap swims and longer biking sessions and have multiple days I do the routine twice. By creating a routine I hold myself accountable to not only honing my craft as a musician, but also taking care of myself mentally and physically (as will be addressed in the future health blog post)

But what am I practicing? Well, if theres an announced audition I'm working through my excerpt progression (to be addressed in a later series.) If there aren't any auditions on the horizon, I pick several different options. Maybe its a week of torturing myself with the Blazevich Clef Studies. I could be dusting off Bill Tell to make sure its 95% there still so I'm not looking at a mental breakdown at the next audition. Or its learning a new bass trombone solo (or heaven forbid a tenor or euphonium solo so I can teach it.) What ever I decide to work on that week, I set goals as to what I want to achieve (which is usually left at "Don't Suck" when not on a time sensitive schedule) and have an associated metronome marking as well.

Oh yeah. USE A METRONOME. ALL THE TIME. You're time isn't that good. Get over yourself and your ego and embrace the way of the metronome. The sooner you do, the sooner you get better. No prayer to god or gods shall grant you perfect time. I've tried.

Anyways, find new material to study. Go revisit old material. Call a friend up and schedule duets.


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©2020 by C.L. Behrens. Photos by Christopher M. Howard www.cmhoward.com