Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:
In this episode, you will learn about how often and for how much time you should practice your flute. We’re going to have so much fun!
Learn Flute Podcast 128
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How long exactly should you practice the flute each day? Ahh it’s the age-old question that I’m excited to answer today on this episode.. Oh and hey, it’s my birthday podcast! Let’s get started.
Well, it’s my birthday soon, and I thought it would be fun to do a special Q&A – that stands for question and answer- because there are some things that I just get asked frequently.
I like to make sure that everything you have access to at Learn Flute Online is pertinent, relevant, educational, motivational, and of course.. Timely.
I’m Rebecca Fuller, your teacher, expert instructor, and motivator for all things flute learning and music enjoyment.
It’s great to have you here today.
Seriously, how many episodes has it been so far?
You know when I first started doing this we counted the episodes, but a few years ago they asked us not to number our episodes anymore, so because of this, I’ve totally lost count but it’s way up there in the hundreds now.
I guess I have enough of the gift of gab though, because I feel like I could create an episode every day for you.
Again, thanks for being here!
It’s a big deal to me to have you learning and enjoying music with us.
So, speaking of birthdays, inside the members area here I have a couple of different modules where we learn to play cool renditions of the tune Happy Birthday on our flutes.
It’s super fun to have this all prepared and ready to perform the next time a parent, neighbor, friend, or other family member has their special day coming. You’d not believe the smiles on their faces when they find out that you put a personal touch like this on their special day.
Something to think about – we’re full of surprises here. What fun!
So when we first are learning an instrument, it’s common to wonder how much time we should spend on it. It’s our shiny new toy afterall, and we’re super excited to learn everything there is so that we can play all of the songs we’ve ever wanted to…
And sound fabulous, right?
Well, I’d say that adults especially have this question of ‘how long to practice flute each day’ because younger people who still live at home with their parents guiding their daily lives will kind of have a time dictated to them.
Not all the time, but I would say most of the time.
It has been traditionally common for music teachers to guide their beginner students to practice for a perfect thirty minutes a day.
This number is probably what you’ve heard over the years also. But, is it really the magical number?
Well, I’m here today to give you the scoop, you know, the 411 of why it has been traditionally recommended that a person learning an instrument should shoot for that thirty minutes of practice each day, and if this is going to be the current advice I’d give you as you are on your quest to play the flute really well.
And you’d probably like to learn in as short an amount of time as possible.
Right? I know you.
You’re chomping at the bit and raring to get going in your new level, right?
Well, I’ll start by saying that thirty minutes is just an elusive, kind of a round-about amount of time.. And while it might be the perfect number for some flute students to accomplish their daily list of tasks on their instrument, it’s really not going to be THE perfect time for everyone in all situations every single time.
So, if you’re working on finding the most ideal amount of time, we’re going to discuss some important questions to ask yourself today, and I’ll also be giving you a nice and tidy list of tips to help you maximize and efficient-ize your practice time.
What is your goal?
So first of all, we need to ask the question of what your goals are in flute playing. You know, what are you really shooting for?
Oh, and it’s really necessary to realize that your goals will change as you improve on this instrument.
I’d be willing to bet that when you first thought you’d like to play this shiny tube, you just thought it would be amusing and fun to know how to play a tune or two on it. Right?
Well, as you advance through the beginner levels, and especially here at Learn Flute Online, you’ve had a whole new world opened up to you, and you now see the possibilities.
You’ve started to hear new music .. that you really like, and you have probably had new sparks of inspiration that will keep you going for many years here.
So, what is your goal?
Well, it’s kind of like a moving target for most. And that’s totally okay. In fact, it’s exciting to find out that we are more than we originally thought we were in life.
Yep. It’s great motivation to know that we can achieve, reevaluate, and then continue achieving on a new trajectory until another yellow brick road unfolds right in front of us.
Most people learning an instrument in this world are learning for recreational purposes. Many have aspirations to achieve at a high level still, and of course there’s a whole world of levels between the beginning days and what could be considered a ‘high level’.
Recreational players and their goals might look and sound something like this:
“I want to play flute to unwind after work in the evenings”, or “I want to play my favorite love songs from the 70’s”.
These are awesome goals, and exactly what many people who first take up the flute aspire to.
But then our recreational goals with our flute can change as we improve and gain confidence. Instead of only wishing to play inside the home, for ourselves, we see that it’s going to be possible for us to venture into a whole new level and perhaps, just perhaps allow others to hear us play.
So, a new goal of being able to, say, perform in Church, becomes a real and very tangible thought, or even thinking of letting your friends and family see your newly acquired talent. So a new goal of “I want to play Christmas songs with my family next holiday season” gets put on the list.
You know music is good for your mind and your body, especially playing the flute, because we use our right and left brains to perform every task. So knowing this is just kind of a given for our motivation and goals.
But what if we are at the stage of life where we have achievement-based goals.. Like the idea that we could enter a contest or perform at a festival?
This is a total possibility, folks. In fact, if achieving and receiving rewards for it are your jam, there are opportunities you may not have even thought about right around you.
Now, you just have to get in the world of music and start to see it.
I’ve hired many musicians over the years to perform at our town functions and Founders Day celebrations.
I’ve hired and been hired countless times to perform in restaurants and for special meetings, weddings, funerals. There are endless possibilities out there, and I think one day we’ll have to talk about all of these in a special workshop or something because it’s really a great day when you find a new lane for yourself.
It’s like a new purpose.
So what am I getting at with all of this talk of possibilities and goals? Well, you hopefully can see the parallel that there is a very wide variation in the amount of time that it takes to work towards each of these different endeavors.
I mean, thirty minutes is really great and quite adequate sometimes, but it usually changes as your goals do.
And of course, it’s imperative to know that the time we spend practicing flute fluctuates depending on our life situations also. Give yourself some grace, and realize that this is just a thing.
Practice Time Depends on Level
So let’s go back to this thirty-minute-a-day concept. It really isn’t realistic for a brand new flute player to even spend thirty minutes blowing on their head joint at first.
Or is it?
Actually, I like to suggest a broken-up practice schedule, instead. Taking the first ten minutes and working on one skill, and then doing it again for another ten minutes later in the day is actually a fast track to learning to play the flute in the early days.
In the Gold Level here at Learn Flute Online, I like to point out that after you’ve gone through and worked out the first forty modules or so, you have a nice long list of short pieces you’ll be able to play.
It’s suggested and assigned by me, your teacher, that you keep these in your daily practice routine- so that you will have the skill repetition needed to continue on the improvement path.
Each of these pieces is pretty short.. Usually less than one minute. So it’s not uncommon for you to be able to play through them all in one practice session. Yep – I said, play them all.
But, as you improve and move into the intermediate or even more advanced levels, you’ll find that you just can’t get through your whole assignment list in less than thirty minutes, so it’s time to change up the schedule and either add another practice session for the days or to add time to the original agenda that you have set for you.
An hour is fine, and so is two hours if your attention span allows.
Somewhere along the way here on the path to improvement, you’ll find days and weeks where you are enjoying practicing your flute so much that you’ll want to add more time, and even more practice sessions.. Which is totally fine. Go with the motivation when it hits you!
The only caveat I’ll mention here is that practicing for more time than you have focus and strength can lead to poor habits like alignment issues and over-practicing of poor technique which which means most of the time this will lead to issues like poor tone and even problems with the body like carpal tunnel syndrome in the hands. Eek. We don’t want that.
So, keep listening and continue learning from me. We’ll start small and super concise with your practice time.
I’ve put the proper information at the right time for you in the member’s area of Learn Flute Online so that you will start as a cute little caterpillar and come out the other side as a beautiful butterfly!
Have extra time to practice?
If you’re anything like me, your life is an ever-evolving tide of ebb and flow- that’s the only way I can think to describe the fact that I am not just my own person most of the time.
I have a busy family with younger and grown children both coming and going.
I have a husband and a home with property that needs to be taken care of.
I also like to take vacations and enjoy the world around me, not to mention my church and civic duties and to make sure my extended family and parents are all good.
So, I have learned to keep on my path of teaching flute, playing flute, and improving my own skills over time.. And know that it’s a life-long journey instead of something that’s going to end on, say, June fifteenth next year.
Music is part of me, and having it as part of my life is a blessing in so many different ways.
So what I’m saying is that I keep playing and practicing my flute as part of my life, and I know that I have seasons where and when I have tons of time to practice, and I have other times when I just don’t.
It’s still there, but not quite as much time each day.
And that’s okay.
With the system I’ve built here at Learn Flute Online, progress is inevitable with either season for you.
I have an Ultimate Practice Guide for Flute that I’ve created that hopefully you’ve already found and downloaded that will help keep you on the path and basically be like a book marker – you know, something that keeps you on the right page and even when and even when the book has been put down for a little extended period of time, it’s right there for you when you pick it back up the next week.
Finding a planned schedule and then sticking to it, really is the number one way to make sure that when you practice the flute it’s productive and to the point enough that you can improve on a consistent basis.
So having a minimum goal for how much time you give to your instrument each day is a really good thing.
Something that musicians are the best at is committing to the long game, as I mentioned earlier.
This makes us primed and ready for all sorts of great things in our lives from career choices, family successes, to amazing other achievements, we are and have learned about the art of discipline.
It’s really more about how consistently and for how many months and years you’ve kept on this endeavor rather than how many exact minutes each day.
When you see an accomplished musician or performer the next time, take a moment to marvel at what they’ve done to get to where they are. They really do deserve the credit, and so do you!
How to Practice Smarter, Not Harder?
Okay we have a couple more ideas to explore here as we learn about answering the question of “How long should you practice the flute each day” and this next one is to learn to practice smarter, not harder.
Many practicing musicians could probably admit that they’ve spent many many days doodling, and noodling, and not being very efficient during their daily time with their instrument.
This is usually because of a couple of things, one being that they have forgotten to keep a practice guide so they know what to do.
Like I mentioned earlier, I have this already set for you in each module here at Learn Flute Online. So, print it out and use it. There’s a progress checklist in each module, and also there’s an Ultimate Practice Guide for you to fill out and keep ready on your music stand at all times.
So when you pick up your instrument you are ready to fire away!
Having good practice habits will help you have bigger results from even shorter practice sessions, it’s true.
Mindless practice really does no good.
Sometimes it’s true that we must get in enough repeats to make sure our mind and body have the muscle memory to move on, but playing and repeating with really good technique in mind is a complete shortcut to success.
So let’s get some focus so that we’re productive from the get-go, friends!
There is a list of common practice mistakes that we’ll learn about here in the future also, which will help keep you on the path to fluency, no problem.
Goal-based practice vs time-based practice
So let’s now wrap up this episode with one more item on our list for when we practice the flute, and this is to consider getting rid of the idea that we have to have a specific time in mind when we get out our instrument.
It can be more productive to actually have a goal in mind instead.
When my children were young for example, I did teach them about music, how to enjoy it, and of course, how to practice it for efficiency. My kids are all student athletes as well and so it was very important to get to it and get it done for the day so the next activity can happen.
Making sure that they had their list of isolated practice items was imperative or their session would just turn into kind of a floundering time where they felt like they were in practice jail.
I never wanted this to happen, so I was extremely careful about this. I made sure that there was a reason for each flute practice session.
Once they accomplished it, they were off to go ride a horse, go play baseball or whatever else was going on.
Think about this for yourself. Did you learn to play another instrument as a child and were you slightly tortured by a timer for how long you should practice?
I’m guessing many of you were because it is a traditional idea in this world, that we should sit with our instrument for a certain amount of time each day.
Well, I’m challenging this right now. Does it really have to be this way?
I’d say that it can be, but releasing the idea that it ‘must’ be thirty minutes or else, is going to free you up for a world of possibilities.
You can practice the flute for fifteen or twenty minutes and accomplish easily what someone else does in an hour just by focusing on your practice guide and keeping yourself on point. As well as stopping to check your physical technique often. This is how to achieve.
And if you missed that, skip back and listen again.
You can then take this type of focus that we’re talking about, and use two different practice sessions in a day to go to new heights while of course remembering that your technique and strength need to match.
Whew, what a great subject! I wanted today to be really special and make sure to give you something amazing, that would help you on your path to becoming a musician who is accomplished and easy to listen to.
So, as you move along with your day, I’d like you to reflect on the questions I’ve asked during this episode.
Let’s take a quick recap now:
What is your goal? And, remember- this will ever evolve. Readjust your goals as you progress.
Your practice time will depend on your level, so keep it appropriate and instead of hurting your body and technique, add separate shorter sessions each day instead of drawing out your time to surpass your attention and skill level.
Then look at your time, and see if you have extra hours or minutes to practice right now, or if you’re in a flow of life that requires shorter sessions, this leads perfectly to the next one which is: Learning how to practice smarter, not harder.
I show you how to do this here at Learn Flute Online. Honestly, no one wants it to take until they’re a hundred years old to be able to play with the ability they’ve imagined. Seriously.
Let’s get focused and get it done right with the time we have.
And lastly, taking many of our practice sessions into a goal-based activity instead of a time-based one is a really good way to be sure that we stay on a path to improvement. It works!
Alrighty, do you remember what’s happening soon? Yuuuup! It’s my Birthday. So let’s play out now with a rendition that you get to also learn inside the members area here at Learn Flute Online.
I am here for you, and I can’t wait to help you with your goals.
How long should you practice the flute each day? I think you know the answer now. Take care, I hope to see you in a lesson very soon.
Thank you for Tuning In!
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about how long you should practice the flute each day. See you in the next episode!