Getting in Shape After Summer

With summer break behind and the school year off to a fresh start, it’s a great time to establish a new practice routine or dust off the cobwebs that gathered over the summer months!

At the end of school, vacation time gives a welcome break from rehearsals, competitions and concerts, but without the daily rehearsal schedule of the school year, staying in shape is a challenge for performers at any age or stage. Organizing a practice plan at the beginning of the new season adds focus and structure to individual practice, avoiding the inevitable frustration that happens when muscles are out of shape and skills are rusty.

Here’s a sample routine to try. Experiment with new ways to practice to develop your own strengths and overcome challenges.

Stretch

Before practice stretch to build flexibility as well as develop strength and body awareness in your facial, arm and hand muscles. Begin each practice session with five to 10 minutes of stretching exercises to avoid physical injuries. Remember that as musicians, we use our bodies like athletes do—especially during marching season—and stretching is essential for any athletic activity.

Build Endurance Gradually

Try short, regular practice sessions rather than marathon attempts to build embouchure or to learn that new marching chart. Starting with practice sessions that are five to 10 minutes (like stretching exercises for flexibility) helps you develop focus instead of frustration as mental energy and concentration skills build over time.

Reward Your Efforts

To meet your practice goals, give yourself incentives such as a call or text to a friend, a favorite TV program, a few minutes of online surfing or any other favorite activity. Be creative and explore new ideas to add fun to getting in shape after summer.

About the Author

Mary Karen Clardy, professor of flute at the University of North Texas in Denton, appears as a soloist, chamber artist and teacher throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia and South America. A renowned author, she has published more than 10 books from European American Music, Leduc, Schott and Universal Edition. Her students are consistent prizewinners in international competitions and occupy prominent orchestral and faculty positions throughout the world. Visit www.mkclardy.com.