• How to stay cool in the practice room this summer

    If you’re living in the northern hemisphere, you might be experiencing a heat wave at the moment. These languid days of summer make finding the motivation to practice extra difficult, so I’m here to help you stay cool in the practice room! Practicing any instrument requires lots of physical and mental energy. Especially for wind players, practicing is very much a cardio activity, so it’s important to make sure you’re beating the heat to operate at your best in the practice room. As the temperature climbs higher and higher, here are some ways you can stay cool in the practice room: Practice early. If your family and neighbors don’t mind,…

  • 10 mistakes you might be making in the practice room

    Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news? The bad news is that even if you’ve mustered up the motivation to practice, you might still be losing out on those practice session gains if you’re not practicing effectively. The good news is that I’m here today to share 10 of the most common mistakes I’ve seen musicians make in the practice room which can hinder their progress. Quality of practice is always more important than quantity, so here are 10 suggestions to improve your practice room progress: Turn off your phone or set it to do not disturb mode. Let’s be honest here – how many…

  • How to use the Pomodoro Technique in the Practice Room

    If you’ve never heard of the Pomodoro Technique, it’s a time management skill used by people around the world. This technique utilizes specifically timed intervals (traditionally 25 minutes) called pomodoros, which is the Italian word for tomato. Why tomato? This is the design of the kitchen timer Pomodoro Technique creator Francesco Cirillo used while in university. During each pomodoro, you focus your attention to work on one task. Once the time is up, you move on to another task. After completing a few pomodoros, you are allowed to take a break. There are many more specific rules which you can discover on the official Pomodoro Technique website. The reason that…

  • Should you take a practice break?

    Do you remember a couple of years ago when the “Should you be practicing right now?” infographic was everywhere online and on the walls of music teachers? It was a lighthearted and humorous way to encourage musicians to practice more, but there can be a negative side to this mentality. Throughout their musical careers, musicians are primed to work diligently and consistently over the course of many years. Eventually, this can take a huge toll on their physical and mental health. I believe that a well-rounded musician leads a fulfilling life both inside and outside the practice room. Their experiences outside the practice room only enhance their work in the…

  • Back to Basics Boot Camp

    The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on all of us in many different ways. One of the most common refrains I’m hearing and seeing from so many musicians is that their practicing schedules are completely out of whack. That’s why I’ve created my Back to Basics Boot Camp. I developed this boot camp to help clarinetists get back in the swing of things in the practice room. During this 15-day boot camp, you’ll rebuild your embouchure and physical endurance, regain technical abilities including articulation, and improve your musicality and phrasing. This boot camp is completely free, and I hope it’s the impetus many musicians need to get back in…

  • Top tips to maximize remote clarinet education (for teachers and students)

    As music educators around the world make the switch to online lesson and course content, I would like to share several of my top tips for teaching clarinet virtually. Although it can be hard to replace face-to-face lessons, there are several cool features and ideas you can utilize during the next few weeks. I have been teaching Skype clarinet lessons for several years now, and here are my top tips to help your clarinet students with online lessons: Logistics Choose your platform. There are so many different options to choose from for online lessons. I like Skype and Zoom, but you can also try Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, or any…

  • Practice with purpose: stop wasting your time!

    This blog post was originally presented as a live lecture on March 7, 2020 at Texas Lutheran University during the ClariNETWORKS festival hosted by Paula Corley. If you feel like you are never making any progress no matter how long you practice, here are some tips to help you practice with purpose and stop wasting your time in the practice room: Organize your music space. You can’t have a productive practice session if you’re constantly having to stop and search for music, equipment, and accessories. Have a plan before you open the case. Keep a practice  journal with goals, tips, inspiration, and advice to help you stay on track throughout…

  • Practicing Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

    By now, you’ve undoubtedly learned that there’s no substitute for consistent and focused practice. But what if no matter how much you’re practicing, the results never seem to last? Here are some common practicing pitfalls and why these might be sabotaging your practicing efforts: Not using a metronome. For the love of Mozart (feel free to insert your favorite composer here), use a metronome! If you’re not using a metronome, you have no barometer to measure your progress. Using a metronome will vastly improve your rhythmic accuracy and help you keep track of your improvement over time. Playing things too fast too soon. Technique is built slowly and steadily (emphasis…

  • 10 Lists to Get You Organized and Inspired for the New Decade

    Happy New Year! There has always been something magical about the feeling of new years and new beginnings – a chance for newly invigorated ideas and goals. It should come as no surprise to longtime readers of Jenny Clarinet that I’m a huge fan of lists, so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite lists to get you motivated to make this decade your best yet! For each list, make sure you are thorough and detailed to reap the maximum benefits. (Note: the primary focus of each list is the last ten years, but feel free to expand to any timeline you want.) So, grab a pen and…

  • How to Maintain Your Practice Schedule During the Holidays

    There’s no doubt about it, December is a hectic time of year. Combine the holidays with the general end of year craziness, and it can wreak havoc on your practice schedule. This is especially dangerous for musicians, as many college and festival auditions are at the beginning of the year. While it might feel nice now to take some time off, you probably wouldn’t feel so great as your auditions approach. Here are a few ways you can maintain an effective practice schedule during the end of year crunch time: Practice first thing in the morning. For me, there is nothing worse than the nagging feeling of having to practice…