MOTIVATION - Netflix or practicing?
A lot of people struggle with practice motivation nowadays as we can't meet each other and play together. It's clearer now than ever how important the social aspect of the music life is. The rehearsal coffee breaks, seeing your musician friends: the good conversations, the concerts you look forward to be playing, the unity of being excited about common activities ... It's not the same when these things seem like a distant memory. For many it furthermore feels meaningless to practice unless one is practicing for something. I really understand this and thought I'd share some little things that I do to go to my practice with joy and with "the sun in my heart".
Before you continue reading I just have to inform that the marketing laws of my country oblige me to mark this post as an AD as I'm about to mention products and where to get them. This does not mean that I get advantages or get payed for these mentions, but I want to do this properly.
I know that all of us are different and not everyone's like me, but I live best by the philosophy "a tidy room, a tidy mind". The surroundings in which I'm going to be practicing are crucial to me. The room where I work has to be clean, tidy and inviting. I'd hate it if I'd have to practice in a small shed, a messy attic or similar. That's why I start every practice session by tidying up a little bit, so that I don't have to be surrounded by clutter and other annoyances. Norwegian as I am, I need an element of HYGGE ( FYI: The Danish will claim ownership of this word, but don't let 'em fool ya: it definitely is Norwegian and the Danes didn't start using it before the 18th century! Take THAT Danes! Hah!)
Numero Uno on my list of motivating things is hence to create a cosy and comfortable space that I can look forward to be in.
Here you see how I've decorated my studio. Since my eyes are very sensitive to light, I prefer many soft light sources spread around the room over one bright "sun". I ordered the rice lamp from Vida XL and I really love the warm light it gives. It was around 50-60 USD.
I have led string lights everywhere. They're an inexpensive way of creating a nice atmosphere and use very little electricity. Perfect for a poor, starving musician!
Normally I scan all my sheet music and read from my iPad. When I on the other hand read from paper, I find it very practical to have some led music stand lights. Especially since I don't have any bright sources of light close to my practice station. I believe those I use are from the brand Fire Stone and cost me around 15 bucks.
The shelf under my music stand comes from K&M (König&Meyer). I cannot say enough how practical it is to have a shelf like that. It's actually so sturdy that I without hesitation will put both my piccolo and my flute on it, and it's normally over filled with pencils, polishing cloths, little screwdrivers and other stash that I use. I even sometimes put my teacup on it. Should've had two, haha! I take it with me everywhere I go on rehearsals, and my neighbors in orchestra are often jealous and ask me, pretty please, if they can put their oboe reeds or other little things on it. I don't remember exactly where I got mine, but a Google search shows that Thomann have 'em for around 25 dollars.
I'm completely dependent on having a full-length mirror. To me that's one of the most important tools in my practicing. Mirrors can be incredibly expensive, but they don't HAVE to be. I found mine on sale at Rusta for about $50 (A scoop!) and I've seen some really nice and inexpensive ones on the used market (I also really recommend having a small mirror on your music stand to check your embouchure etc.).
I sit at least as much as I stand when practicing, so I bought some lovely faux lambskins for my chair (on sale) and my butt thanks me for it everyday.
Art on the walls is really important and inspires me a lot.
The artist behind the most beautiful painting I have is Mother Nature herself, and I enjoy the view of beautiful Kaldfjord everyday. I really recommend placing your music stand in a way so that you don't play directly into a wall. Rather play out into the room so you get something back for having such a beautiful flute sound! 😘 If you're standing next to a window, you'll get some daylight and maybe you have something nice to look at outside?
Colours are extremely important to me and make me really happy. That's why I love love love the polishing cloths from Beaumont Music. Those which are for the exterior of the flute are made from micro fiber and come in many different designs. They're furthermore eco friendly, made from recycled bottles. The quality is GREAT! I actually believe I own one of each of them!
Check https://www.beaumontmusic.co to see their whole selection!
Another thing that makes me happy is my metronome (or catronome 😸) from Wittner. Even if it looks almost like a toy it is a reaaaaally good metronome of the highest quality. I often have problems hearing electronic metronomes because their beeps are in the same register as the flute. This is not a problem with a mechanical metronome! These Wittners come as 🐱, 🐧, 🦉 and 😴. Expensive like Hell, but should last for the rest of your life if you treat it well. Lil' students LOVE it when I bring mine. I ordered it from Amazon and I've seen that Thomann has it too.
I also like to use coloured pencils when I write in my sheet music. Anything to make life less grey and boring, amirite? 🤪
So yeah, it might be clear that I find motivation from having a nice milieu to practice in, that colours make me happy and that I find inspiration from paintings and the nature I surround myself with.
But it's also important for me that the practicing itself doesn't get monotonous. If you're not conscious about variation it quickly gets boring. Change things up! For this reason I strongly recommend to bake études into your practice regime.
Here are 3 bouquets of études I suggest you take a look at:
- Köhler Opus 33: https://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/6/64/IMSLP331991-PMLP536949-KohlerExercises33a.pdf
- Andersen Opus 33: https://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/7/76/IMSLP25281-PMLP56739-24_Etudes,_Op_33.pdf
- Köhler Opus 66 (The Romantic Études): https://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/5/5d/IMSLP279422-PMLP453633-Kohler66-flute.pdf
A lot to keep you busy there. Commit to one étude and work on it for 1-2 weeks. When those 1-2 weeks have passed you move on to the next no matter how it went. That way you'll eventually get good at playing in many different keys, constantly practice reading new music and don't have to work on the same things week after week after week after week. The point of études isn't necessarily perfection.
As I've written in previous posts, Youtube is your best friend. An enormous resource!! Did you for instance know that there are a lot of pre recorded accompaniments for flute pieces in there? The account Flute Orchestral Backings & Piano accompaniments has sooo much good stuff! I've used that a lot in my own practicing, 'cus it's useful AND because it's a lot of fun!
What if you for instance practice Fauré's goooorgeous Sicilienne for flute and piano?
You find the sheet music here: https://ks4.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/d/da/IMSLP129966-WIMA.7095-Faure_Sicilienne_Flute.pdf
And when you're ready, here's the accompaniment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssVAqo9oiB
How about Gluck's Dance of the Blessed Spirit?
Use a decent speaker or headphones. You're gonna enjoy this!!
If you use the search words "FLUTE + IMSLP" you'll find plenty of flute pieces. IMSLP is a huge online music library where basically everything so called "public domain" is available free of cost. Look up "IMSLP + (the name of the piece)" and chances are you'll find it.
Use the search words "(name of the piece you're practicing) + piano accompaniment" on Youtube and chances are big you'll find something you can play together with.
It's not eeeeexactly the same as playing together with a living human being, but it serves its purpose!
A last thing worth mentioning is that your practice program ALWAYS should contain something targeted towards improving your flute skills too. To build "flute muscles" and further improve your technique and sound. Few things are as motivating as noticing improvement and being able to do something that you previously couldn't. Technical exercises are plentiful and all you need is ask and I'll recommend you some!
Please leave a comment or send me a message via the contact form on this page if you have feedback or questions. I prefer the contact form over direct messages to my private Facebook.
It's also possible to book Skype lessons with me if you want a lil kick in the arse to get you on track!