WOODSHEDDING TIPS: THE FINE ART OF PRACTISING

“Woodshedding” is a musician’s term for practising. It goes back to the days when people had woodsheds and children were banished to the wooodshed to practise their instruments. Peter Stigings offers the following tips to make the most of your time in the woodshed.

  • Try to set aside a set time and place on a regular basis to do some concentrated, productive woodshedding. It’s better to practise four or five times a week in short, focused sessions than to practise less often in longer sessions.
  • Start your practice sessions with a few warm-ups, such as scales, arpeggios and technical studies.
  • Work on the orchestral music that needs practice – those sections where you encountered difficulty during recent rehearsals. Note carefully the key signature and mark key changes with “eyeglasses”.
  • Practise slowly and gradually increase the tempo. (This may take several days of repetitive practising.)
  • When you encounter rhythmic problems, analyze them by counting and clapping out loud at a slower tempo.
  • Try singing the parts at a slower tempo. And try fingering tricky technical parts without your instrument. These are valuable mental exercises!
  • Listen carefully to yourself. Work on producing a good, focused, in-tune sound that you are proud of.
  • Make sure when you start your practising that you have a few definite objectives in mind: set goals for each practice session. Musicians who practise with a purpose will improve their individual contributions to the orchestra; all improvements by individuals will have a direct effect on the performance of A Little Night Music Orchestra.

Good luck with your productive woodshedding.

Peter Stigings, Conductor/Music Director
A Little Night Music Orchestra

A Community Orchestra Based at Magee School, Vancouver BC