If you’re like most musicians, you’ve probably taken an extended break from time to time. While the break is usually much-needed and well-deserved, it can be challenging to regain and extend physical endurance once you start practicing again.
Here are a few tips for wind players to help you increase your endurance.
Disclaimer: No matter how musically in-shape you are, it is always important to take regular breaks during your practice sessions to avoid injury. I take a 10-15 minute break every 45 or 50 minutes, but feel free to adjust this to your routine.
- Go slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your embouchure or overall endurance. Think of building endurance like weight-training at the gym. Just like you shouldn’t start with the heaviest weights first, you shouldn’t start with super-long practice sessions. With a bit of patience and perseverance, your endurance will improve over time.
- Gradually increase your sessions. Depending on how long your break was, start playing for just 5-10 minutes a day for a week. Gradually add 5-10 minutes each subsequent week to improve endurance in a healthy way.
- Consistency is key. I’m all for taking practice or performing breaks when necessary, but just know that a break in your regular routine will result in a decline in physical endurance. Strive for consistency in your practicing to maximize your endurance.
- Check your posture. Always practice good posture when you’re practicing music. Any flaw in posture such as hunched backs, lowered chins, or other positions can be detrimental to endurance. Use a mirror to check your posture throughout your practice routine.
- Finish with long tones. You all know that there’s nothing I love more than starting the day with long tones, but finishing your practice session with a few minutes of long tones can do wonders for physical endurance. Choose long tones that are easy to medium difficulty, and focus on maintaining a proper embouchure and air flow.
- Try new gear. Extend your endurance with the use of equipment like thumb cushions, neck straps, harnesses, teeth protectors, or anything else which might help improve endurance. (I personally swear by EZO brand denture cushions to protect my lower teeth/lip during extra-long practice sessions. #notspon) Reed players might consider going down a reed strength after an extended break until they regain enough endurance to use their normal reed strength.
I hope these tips help you increase your endurance! What other suggestions do you have for building endurance?