The Beginner's Guide to Practice

Beginning Music Guide: All About Practice

How can I practice more efficiently? How can I improve my playing through practice? If your child has enrolled in a school band or orchestra, the director has more than likely emphasized the importance of practice.


While students have a chance to rehearse with the other members of the group at school, it is also very important to spend time practicing on your own


What is practice?

Practicing is a player’s individual rehearsal time outside of group rehearsal. To practice, find a quiet place where you can focus. Set up a timer, chair, music stand and anything else you may need to play. 

trombone practiceWhy practice?

Practicing is what will ultimately help a player to improve at his or her instrument. It is a chance to focus on difficult aspects of the music, hone in on specific parts of a piece and strengthen fundamental music skills. Practice is essential to learning an instrument. Not practicing outside of school band or orchestra will cause the student to fall behind. 

How should I practice?

Practicing should be both enjoyable and educational. Here are some tips to get the most out of your practice sessions.

practicing musicWarm up

 Make sure you start every practice session with scales, tuning, and other effective warm-ups. These are all important parts of playing and will help you get better. They also help you prepare for the practice session by warming up the muscles in your hands and face.



 When you practice, do your best to focus on those parts of a piece that are difficult for you. Play these parts over and over until you get them right! Try playing the passage with different dynamics or articulation each time.

valves Slow Down

If you have trouble playing a passage, and you keep stumbling through it while playing it up to tempo, you are only reinforcing bad habits. Instead, slow it down! Use a metronome and play the passage as slowly as you can comfortably play. As you get better, increase the tempo slowly. This will ensure that when you play it up to tempo, you can play it clearly and precisely.

Play Long Tones 

 For wind instruments, long tones, or long sustained notes, are important for improving tone quality and clarity in playing. Try playing notes of different registers for as long as you can and focus on keeping the dynamic and tone quality consistent for the entire length of the note.



oboe studentHow often should I practice?

While every school music program and private music teacher will have their own recommendation for how often you should practice, work towards making practice something you do for yourself and your growth as a musician. Try to practice as often as you can. The best way to do this is to make practicing a habit


Plan out your practice sessions for the times of day when you have the energy and focus to devote to practice. Block off your schedule for these times. Practicing is an important commitment to your musical journey so be sure to prioritize your practice time.


Try making a practice schedule and logging the time you practice each day. This will help you feel a sense of accomplishment when you practice, and will also help you hold yourself accountable for practicing. 



If you are new to playing music, practice can seem boring and daunting. Instead of confining yourself to an isolated room to practice scales for five hours, make your practice sessions enjoyable. Try practicing with friends or playing along with a recording of a piece.


Each practice session will be different and some days you will feel more successful or accomplished than others. The most important part of practice is showing up. Continue showing up to practice as often as you can and you will reap the benefits in no time! 




Other Beginning Music Guide Posts:


The Beginner’s Guide to Concerts 


orchestra concert

What should you expect for your first music concert? A student’s first concert is an exciting time! It is a chance to share with an audience of family and friends the hard work that the student has put in individually and with the ensemble over time.


I Can’t Make a Sound on my Instrument!

students playing instruments

“I can’t make a sound on my instrument!” What do you do when no matter how hard you try, you can’t play an instrument?