Practice Tips

Like the old saying goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!” Practicing is a daily ritual for all of the musicians of the orchestra. We begin with extensive warm-ups before our rehearsals and performances, practice again afterwards to make improvements, and continue our work learning new music during our time away from Orchestra Hall. When musicians come to the first rehearsal of the week, we are expected to be “performance ready.” In rehearsals, we bring our individual work together to create collective musical magic. We offer some our favorite practice tips to you…check back weekly for updates! 


Violinist Milana Reiche offers a practice tip via You Tube
Peter McGuire, Violin gives a practice tip via YouTube
Herbert Winslow, Associate Principal Horn, gives a practice tip via YouTube
Brian Mount, Principal Percussion, gives a practice tip via YouTube

New Practice Tips!!! 

Chunk it up! Don’t wait all day to start your dreaded hours of practice. Play in shorter chunks, 10 to 20 minutes at a time, with breaks to relax physically and mentally. Bad habits thrive and injuries occur when you’re fatigued, so it is better to focus intensely in shorter sessions. Also, begin early in the day. Once you get started, it will be easier to keep adding chunks throughout the day!
Wendy Williams, flute

Create a plan and follow it! Having clear goals is key to a good practice session.
Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, third horn

I’ve always hated the saying, “Practice makes perfect!”  Practice doesn’t make “Perfect”, it makes “Permanent”.   My practice tip, especially for young people: Slow down and isolate the problem spot. If you don’t, you are in essence “permanently” working the mistake into your practicing and therefore into your performance.
Katja Linfield, cello 

If you can hear it, you can play it- practice mentally away from your instrument. This can make your practice time much more efficient.
Norbert Nielubowski, contrabassoon

When you prepare material for performance, think about how your sound will reach and affect those folks seated in the back of the house. Remember, the room is in fact your instrument.
Kate Nettleman, acting co-principal bass

If you get too frustrated with a particular passage, don’t stress, just come back to it later. Taking a break will help clear you head and you may be inspired with a different approach.
Sifei Cheng, viola 

Practice Tips from this Summer:

Get up earlier than you probably want to and get some work done in the morning.
Dave Williamson, Bass

Stay focused. Mindless practice can be worse than not practicing at all.
Sam Bergman, Viola

If you really want good time through a passage, tape yourself and play the tape back to a metronome until you get it perfect every time.
Kevin Watkins, Percussion

Make every note you play the most beautiful note you can.
Greg Milliren, Associate Principal Flute

The number one thing that will help most any brass or wind player improve their sound immediately is AIR. Whenever possible, I give myself 2 beats to breathe. Find your tempo, count to yourself “1-2-breathe-breathe” and play. It’s that simple. Think of filling up your diaphragm with your first beat of breath, and then filling up the rest of your lungs with your second beat of breath. Work to keep the shoulders nice and relaxed as you fill up with air. Doing this will help you in at least three ways:
1. You establish a solid sense of pulse
2. You can’t help but take a really full breath
3. By bringing in the air in a slower, more relaxed way, it will go out in the same fashion helping to keep your sound more open, relaxed and warm.
R. Douglas Wright, Principal Trombone 

Happy practicing!