I’ve managed to get 2 hours of practice in almost every day since late January when I changed my practice routine from playing straight for 45 minutes and killing my chops to a play for 20 minutes then rest for 20 minutes then play then rest etc. schedule with a four to five hour break between my first hour of playing and my second. I am starting to see some real improvement from a few months ago both in my playing in general and especially with endurance.
I’ve been really busy for the past several weeks so I started to skip the 20 minute breaks for my afternoon practice session and just go straight through the hour. I discovered that I had no problem playing for that length of time and it didn’t seem to effect how I played the next day. Then about a week ago I decided to try going straight through the first hour also and I didn’t have any problem with that either. I haven’t seen any detrimental effect to the afternoon session.
The only time I still rest during the morning practice session is after the first Singer exercise – half note, half rest, half note, half rest, whole note, whole rest starting at F in the staff and going up to G above the staff – if I do it. At the end of this exercise Singer actually says ‘rest’ so I follow the instructions and take a 20 minute rest.
The other thing I have noticed is that if I don’t get two hours of practice in every day I play significantly worse the next day. When I first realized that this was happening I was surprised because for most other activities rest usually improves things. But I’ve noticed this consistently now and I can pretty much guarantee a bad day if I miss my second hour of practice the day before. I have not tried taking a whole day off and then seeing what happens with my playing. What will be really interesting is to see what effect the layoff on my way to IHS in Macomb (I’m driving from Long Island, NY) has on my playing. I’m hoping that several days off will have a beneficial effect. I expect to get plenty of playing in once I arrive. I am bringing a practice mute but I doubt that I will want to practice instead of moving on toward my destination.
This evening I decided to try an experiment and see if I could play for another half hour. I already did an hour in the morning followed by 3 hrs rest and then an hour in the afternoon. I added the half hour after another 3 hour rest. I think I played similarly to how I played earlier today. I did notice that arpeggios got a lot easier. On the other hand, tongued notes were not as crisp. I didn’t feel as though I was playing on my teeth which is how I feel if I am overdoing it. Range and tone were okay.
I’ll have a good idea about the outcome of my experiment tomorrow. If I can get in an hour of practice in the morning and survive band rehearsal in the evening then I will call my experiment a success.