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Daily Exercises

I'm curious as to what type of exercises everyone does when you practice.
I practice almost every day for about 45 minutes. The first half hour I spend it doing long tone exercises. The remaining fifteen minutes I spend it doing fingering exercises and learning new notes.


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I'm curious as to what type of exercises everyone does when you practice.
I practice almost every day for about 45 minutes. The first half hour I spend it doing long tone exercises. The remaining fifteen minutes I spend it doing fingering exercises and learning new notes.
I'd probably break that into 15 long tones/15 technical/15 repertoire if it were me.

Right now, I'm doing a lot of work on all of the woodwinds, so a typical day has about an hour of flute, an hour of oboe, and then another hour of various horns. I just finished doing an hour of clarinet scales and then reading through some studies. Finished off with #36 out of the Rose 40 Studies.


Brassica Oleracea
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I do some deep knee bends, stretches and sit-ups.

Mainly, I just go for a walk.
Hahaha - you do knee bends?? That's weird! What about push-ups? No push-ups?

Merlin - I am still learning the basics so I have no repertoire to practice. The fingering exercises are the studied in the beginners book I am using.
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Most of my practicing is playing tunes. If I hit a challenging lick, then I work on it using repetitions to get it under my fingers.


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Most of my practicing is playing tunes. If I hit a challenging lick, then I work on it using repetitions to get it under my fingers.
Same here and I always attributed to my short attention span. But I mix it up with classical and jazz.

One of my instructors sez that when he practices his wife only gets to hear the stuff that's hard for him. It isn't any fun to listen to. Only by going to a concert does she get to hear the good stuff. Conversely my son has said that I tend to dwell upon the stuff I like and not the licks I need to work on.


Brassica Oleracea
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Hahaha - you do knee bends?? That's weird! What about push-ups? No push-ups?
I'm better at sit-ups than push-ups.

I haven't played in a long while, but I've given thought to a good practice regimen -- primarily because I did have one when I was singing.

* Long tones. Always a good warm-up thing, particularly if you're doing it with a tuner (if you're a beginner, you should ALWAYS do this with a tuner).
* Octave leaps. Again, with a tuner.
* Thirds. Again, with a tuner.
* Scales. Both long tones and short. Mix 'em up. Keep it even. A tuner and metronome are your friends.
(* On sax, I'd do some harmonics, too. I don't think you can do that on flute.)

The above can take you through a good half hour or more.

There are further vocal warm-ups that include breathing exercises, but this isn't a vocalists' forum :).

* Go on to the piece(s) you're needing to practice. The idea is not to play everything as fast as possible (unless you're playing "As Fast as Possible"), but to play it at a consistent speed and work up to the performance speed. If everything is cake but a small section, work on that section until you can build up the speed.
* If I don't have anything to practice, I can always pull out Sigurd Rascher's 24 Intermezzi ('course, I'm talking about sax), but I'm sure there's a flute equivalent by someone like James Galway. It's just to limber you up with something that's soul-crushingly difficult (hey, Rascher used key signatures with double-sharps and double-flats) so everything else seems easy.
* I generally would pull out one of the Bach Cello Suites (I played baritone sax, which is approximately the same range as a cello) and run through one or more of those, because they're the Bach version of the Intermezzi for cello.

FWIW, the sit-ups and/or a walk will help you with your flute playing in several ways: build up lung capacity, build stamina and increase your life expectancy. So, while my comment was amusing, it's also a good idea :).
Very good advice pete.
I did start out practicing without a tuner and would go through tone exercises easily. Then a few months ago I took a lesson with another flute player and they showed me that I was VERY flat, so I got a tuner and now I've started over and going much slower for the long tones.
As for the other exercises I generally don't worry about tone as I'm trying to focus on the fingering and timing, so I switch the tuner with the metronome.
The one area I keep ignoring is the breathing exercises. I keep meaning to do breathing exercises during the day but I keep putting it off.

Al Stevens - as for hard parts, I have noticed that two or three practice tunes are quite easy, then I hit this incredibly hard tune. What I've noticed is that after a few days, all of a sudden I can play right through the tune without a problem. It amazes me cause it seems as if there is no progression. It's a jump from unable to play to playing it.


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Focusing on a good practice routine has always been a weak spot for me. I'm normally a pretty structured person but when I practice I have a tendency to want to just noodle and play whatever comes to mind. There's a time and place for that but not as often as I end up doing it.

When I'm being a good boy I do lots of long tones and then scales. I found this particularly helpful on the bigger horns. The other thing that I'm better about these days is using a metronome.

It should go without saying that during practice you should always be mindful of your intonation. Nothing is more annoying than playing with people who can't play in tune.
You can definitely do harmonics/overtones on flute. I'd say they're one of the best ways to get your sound together on the flute.
In addition to overtones, I like to do long tones with flutter tonguing or singing the same pitch I'm playing. A good example is the first exercise in the Moyse De La Sonorite. You play descending half-step intervals, each one is played twice. The first time is played with flutter tonguing or singing, the second time is played normally. You can also do this exercise to work on vibrato. With vibrato the first time, without the second.
BTW, I really like Merlin's breakdown for the 45 minutes. That seems the most efficient to me.
I know I'm getting into this late, but it's timely for me. I'm just getting back to learning flute as a doubler and this time I have an excellent teacher who is a retired Marine band conductor.

Bill is doing a fine job of teaching this old dog new tricks, but I'm always open to additional tips and tricks as found on this forum. The practice regimen posted by Pete is almost exactly the one my teacher urges me to follow, i.e., long tones, octave jumps, etc.

He also advises me to look in the mirror to observe my embouchure to make sure I have the required ellipse formation over the lip plate opening, and watch it change, if it does, when attempting to make the octave jump. That's the hardest exercise I've encountered so far.

I have a Jupiter 531 student flute in new condition, closed hole with a C foot and it seems to get the job done. I also have a CE Winds student flute in the same configuration and a Richard Egues Model flute by Orpheo that I may never get good enough to play.

Keep those hints and helps coming for beginning flute players like me. I need all the help I can get. My hands hurt, I get dizzy and frustrated, but I know I can do it if I can just manage to remain patient and stick with it. Fitting all the practice sessions into my other activities - day job, playing in sax in four groups, side job as webmaster for four websites, and SAT prep instructor for English - is the neatest trick of all.

Sorry my rambling seems excessive. It's just that I'm feeling good about having cyber-friends and experts in the field, to share these thoughts with.


Below you'll find what I aim for each day and what I work on. Hopefully there will be something of use for someone out there in internet land.

I'm sure there's a lot of info that a lot of people know ... but I included it anyways just in case.

I used fractions because if you have 15 minutes or 5 hours ... the breakdown can still be the same. And obviously each section is not cut and dry ... there can be a lot of overlap.

I try my best to keep my daily routine to:

1 hr Flute
1 hr Clarinet
3 hr Tenor
1 hr alto

*I don't get 6-8 hours of practicing done 7 days a week ... but I try to do as much as I possibly can.

In general (per instrument)...

1/3 of time Sound:
- Longtones
- overtones
- octave jumps / lip slurs / etc.
- exercises to make sure I have a good, even sound, in all registers
- I worked long and hark on the upper register of my saxes ... now I'm doing the same with flute and clarinet

1/3 of time Technique:
- scales - in every possible pattern I can do without wanting to hurt someone HAHA
- arpeggios
- interval studies
- finger patterns
- articulation
- always use a metronome
- I personally have issues with playing with tension ... so I work really really focused here to play with the least amount of tension as possible.

1/3 of time Rep and other material:
- TUNES - (BRIEF idea of what I try to achieve with each tune over time) ...- learn melody first ... - guide tones ... - chords ... -chord scales - improving with limit games ... -taking a pattern or scale or lick etc. etc. to infinite possibilities through the changes ... -putting that all together and just soloing through the changes ... -lift a solo on the same tune ... write it down see what they are doing ... rinse and repeat.
- Lifts ... gives you the ability to work on sound, technique, time, ears ... all at the same time
- Jazz Conception books - with play along ... - Snidero, Fishman, Neihaus
- Voxman studies are a good choice for classical rep.
- work on the staple concertos of my doubles.
- if you want to work on doubling / switching ... get your hands on a musical theatre book and a pit recording. --- they are definitely floating out there if you know people.

Other good ideas:
-Play duets. - helps you work on time, tuning, blend. ... If you are working on say your flute chops ... get together with someone who has a great sound and play duets ... good chance to really try to pick up that sound. ... try out combination duets ... alto/tenor ... flute/clarinet
- Listening - try listening to one or two tracks on your instrument of choice each day ... really focused attentive listening ... listen to the phrasing and breathing ... how the player attacks each note etc.
- go to concerts
My quasi-daily exercise consists of trying to get a consistent tone out of that pipe, i.e.,
a long tone that remains at the same pitch beginning to end. If any success at that is
achieved I move on to the painful, if not pitiful, attempt to play up an octave. When that
fails, I put it away and get out one of my saxes to get some positive reinforcement. In a
little while, when I start feeling better with a renewed sense of confidence in my playing,
I get out the licorice stick and descend to new depths once again.
My hour practice has changed since I first posted.

Now I am more or less doing 15 minutes long tones, 10 minutes finger techniques, 20 minutes on the lesson I may be working on at the moment and 15 minutes scale exercises.

I have tried to keep the long tone exercises on the same level as the lessons. At the moment the lessons are just going into the second octave, so in my long tones I am now doing the first and second octave.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Mostly responding to WoodWindPlayer:

When I went to college for music (that'd be at my second college, if you're keeping track), I would attend classes, eat, do homework and then practice until the music building closed (maybe 6 hours a day) and then go to the library until that closed and study/do homework.

Sleep? Couple hours a night. It was very noisy on campus.

Vary the schedule slightly if I had for-pay computer work to do. Internet? What's that? Hey, I beta-tested dirt!

Anyhow, my weekends were when I also did for-pay work. Friday was taken up by travel, so no practice. Saturday and Sunday, I played when I wasn't working -- and one of my jobs was playing, so I probably played 8 hours a day on the weekend, minus Friday.

As I commented in another thread, I realized that I was putting in a heck of a lot of effort for a very minimal improvement, so I decided to change my focus to something I was really good at: fixing computers. However, there's a difference between havening to practice for your job/school and for your own personal benefit.