Practice Slump

When NOT to Practice

How to plan your practice is a topic that I’ve covered before, but there’s a lot more to getting in “enough” playing than just sitting down for a practice session.

The typical recommendation from the ever-popular Farkas book is that you need to get in 3 hours of practice per day, but there’s definitely more to it than that.

Especially during the marching season (which is close to winding down as write this), it’s more important to keep track of your playing sessions rather than simply your practice sessions.

A recent article on the HornMatters blog covers this quite well, with the following things counting as a practice session:

  • A practice session (duh)
  • A lesson
  • A rehearsal
  • A concert

While the amount of playing done in a rehearsal and concert can vary wildly, generally speaking, any rehearsal over an hour can be called a practice session. Even if you’re not playing, you are (or should be) staying musically active and mentally alert for the entire rehearsal, and that definitely counts as a practice session.

Small rant:

Staying mentally active during a rehearsal where you’re not playing much is it’s own challenge, of course, but it is vital. There’s probably nothing that irritates me more than someone reading their phone or a book every time the conductor starts talking to another section. Of course, lots of times these players miss things that have to be explained again (and waste other people’s times).

Back to the original topic:

What you may be noticing is that if you have a very heavy day of rehearsals or concerts, you may only practice once or not at all. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t warm-up, of course, but if you’ve got multiple playing services in a day, trying to add 3 hours of practice on top of that is a recipe for disaster!

Maybe a better way for teachers to phrase it for students is that you want 3 playing sessions, not practice sessions per day.

Read the full article at