I'm a huge proponent of to-do lists. I use one every day to help me remember what I need to get done. Items on my to-do list could be things like sending an email when I get to the office, picking something up from the store, or other things that I need to get done that day. I also have recurring tasks for things I need to do regularly, like writing new Tuba Tuesday emails or evening long tones for my practice rest day.
Have you ever thought about making a to-do list of things you need to practice today? In issue #14 of the Tuba Tuesday Newsletter I discussed becoming your own greatest asset by taking a proactive approach to directing your development as a player. One of the ways to do this that I mentioned was to record yourself and fix problems you hear in your recording.
I record practice sessions regularly. I've got a recital coming up in two weeks and will record run-throughs of my recital repertoire several times between now and then. When I listen back to the recording I always use the sheet music of the piece I'm listening to for reference. As I listen and follow along in the part I write down feedback on what I hear.
This feedback could be complimentary, "Great entrance," or "Nice vibrato." Or it could be critical such as, "Accuracy, m. 65," or "Louder through crescendo, m. 122." I try to be as specific as possible with the criticisms so that I know exactly what to work on when it comes time to practice the piece again.
The list of feedback from listening is now your practice to-do list. Next time you practice you know exactly what to work on. Work your way through all of the criticisms and mark them off the list if you want. When you've fixed all of the problems, record yourself again. Listen, make a new list, and repeat the process. Do this as many times as you can before your performance.
One important suggestion; this process is most effective later in your performance preparation. I only start recording myself after I think I've fixed everything in the piece.
What's on your practice to-do list?
Thank you for reading!