The Fearless Flutist:
musings on confidence, the music world, and everything flute.
Triple tonguing has always been difficult for me. A repeated /t/ or /d/ syllable between beats is rough, let’s be real.
This post is dedicated to getting your triple tonguing where it needs to be!
Strengthen Your Syllables
This is the most obvious way of practicing your triple tonguing. Practice your /k/ or /g/ syllables independently of the music, as that’s likely the weakest syllable. Additionally, practice your triple tonguing in t-k-t k-t-k or d-g-d g-d-g patterns instead of the usual t-k-t t-k-t d-g-d d-g d.
Slur Triple Tongued Passages
It sounds basic, but this is a great technique that shows what kind of air you need to have in order to make your triple tonguing speak clearly. Practice your arpeggios ensuring that you have the proper amount of air moving through them, avoiding cracked notes.
Work in Smaller Pieces
You don’t need to suffer through any triple tongued passage as written when you’re practicing. Break it down into smaller pieces! Triple tongue one beat and follow it up with two beats of quarter notes to make it easier.
Feeling Brave? Make it Harder
Triple tongue your arpeggios ascending and descending throughout two octaves and finish by ascending to the tonic note.
Check out my Triple Tongued Arpeggios printable and let me know how it works for you!
I recently came up with this exercise as a way to work on several different aspects of tone at once, without having to go through the hassle of playing long tones.
No offense, Moyse, but De La Sonorite doesn’t do it for me on a daily basis anymore (and never really did, to be honest).
The point of this exercise is to play my major scales in octaves, and focus on one element up to four different elements regarding tone production. The elements are as follows:
Like any good tone exercise, you should of course focus on your tone quality. A good tone is homogenous and beautiful throughout all registers; the color should never change in the middle of any register unless you are intending for it to change. I generally go for a dark tone color (I think of it as a “black” tone) when I first begin to warm up, for a tone that will serve all forms of music well. I then trade that out for a light tone color (“gray” tone) that helps bring out the characters within French and more contemporary music.
In this exercise, you can practice good tone in these ways:
I’m a stickler for smoothness in my sound; the one thing that sticks out most to me in recordings (besides intonation) is hearing “bumps” in my sound. To eliminate “bumps,” your air must be continuously moving as you change notes and registers, even as your embouchure moves to compensate. As you ascend in register, the tendency is to blow faster; as you descend in register, your tendency should be to blow ever-so-slightly slower, or to just relax, as I think of it. Now, if you’re blowing too slowly, that will affect the pitch and the overall tone quality. You just need to relax enough that the lower octave comes out smoothly and effortlessly.
Vibrato is a tricky thing to discuss, because everyone seems to have an opinion on what constitutes a good vibrato. For me, a good vibrato is a vibrato that is integrated into your sound and does not function independent of the sound. If you’re thinking of vibrato in terms of the depth, my vibrato is generally not too deep or narrow unless the music calls for it.
Here’s how you can practice vibrato with this exercise:
Believe it or not, your ears are likely better than you think they are. My flute professor at UNL, John Bailey, had a habit of making us start our etudes, then stop them and start them again by playing the scale of whatever key we were in and the tonic/dominant arpeggios. From there, we noticed an immediate difference in our intonation: it was much better because we were orienting ourselves in whatever key we were in.
This exercise is GREAT for intonation! Here’s how you can improve it:
Tips for this scale sheet:
Download and print my Major Scales in Octaves and let me know how it works for you!
It's been a year. There's a reason for that, and I don't feel like getting into it.
I’ve been taking auditions since I was 21 (read: since I was nowhere near ready to be taking an orchestral audition to begin with). My first audition was for the Des Moines Symphony in 2012. My round was filled with women who were at least 10 years my senior. I remember the personnel manager descending the staircase and telling us that the committee wanted to hear everyone from that preliminary round again...except me.
It didn’t sting me at all. I remember saying, “alright, I’m hungry!” and leaving with my boyfriend (now husband) to go get pasta from an all-you-can-eat pasta place downtown. Perhaps it should have stung me, though.
It took me three auditions, three years after that audition to begin to advance to semi finals and final rounds. I remember being ecstatic the first time it happened. It was a small audition, and I was in a room amongst friends (war buddies) from graduate school. I celebrated perhaps a little too much and annoyed my competition. But I was happy! I finally did something right!
It’s taken me until now, almost 2018, to figure out that I have a method to my madness. We all talk about how to win the job, but we never talk about what usually comes before winning the job: great preparation, doing everything “right”, coming close, and leaving empty-handed. This is my current process.
1. Check your ego at the door, but don’t use that as an excuse to do poorly.
I’ve discovered that in my efforts to keep my ego at bay, I was subconsciously sabotaging myself. I never wanted to be too big for my britches, always wanted to stay humble so no one could have a bad thing to say about me.
Well, someone is always going to say something. C’est la vie. (Bite me.)
I never really understood that it was affecting my playing until I began studying with my current teacher in 2015, and it was an incredibly hard habit to break. He’s a very detail-oriented flutist; thinking about every aspect of the music. It was exhausting to step inside his line of thinking even for 30 seconds, let alone for the long term. Playing music was hard again!
To clarify, I’ve always had an element of natural talent. Admittedly, I rely on that more than I should, even now.
As I got used to this new way of thinking, I realized that I was capable of so much more than I thought. I could deliver a good performance and own the stage without making myself out to be an ass. An ego and good musicianship are not mutually exclusive.
Sounds obvious, but this was a revelation for me.
I began to realize my own worth, and that, my friends, is different from being full of yourself. In fact, I was able to connect my worth as a musician to my worth as a daughter of the Most High, but that’s a different discussion for a different time.
Once that happened, I began to see a mental shift in breaking the preliminary round barrier.
2. Find the preparation method that best works for you.
Many professionals will tell you to spend a certain amount of time on single elements of the excerpts in order to perfect them. Work on rhythm, THEN intonation, THEN sound, THEN whatever whatever.
It's a good, relatively fail-safe method if you do it right.
I, however, have no patience, energy, or time for it. I'm not in school anymore; I have adulting to worry about. (sigh)
My method is to practice in short, incredibly focused bursts with my recording device. I will play through an excerpt and play back the recording a few times, making note of every inaccuracy that I heard. I then see which things I can fix simultaneously, so I don't have to break it down into single elements.
Articulation and musical style often go hand in hand. Same with intonation and tone quality. Rhythm and evenness of technique.
If you have the time to dedicate to every aspect of an excerpt, great! But if you don't, you aren't necessarily set up for failure; you just need to improve your time management skills. This isn't to say I don't isolate certain things from time to time; I just do it when I need to. I like to work hard but I don't like to make the work hard on me.
I work slowly; I plan it out so I don't peak right before the audition and fall flat on my face. I want to be at my peak during all of my rounds. Because of this, I like to do my mock auditions only a week before the audition; that's usually when I feel most ready. My husband will put each of my rounds together, picking the most absurd set of excerpts that he can so I'm prepared for any possible scenario.
You laugh now at the thought, but one of my last auditions asked for Firebird as the first preliminary round excerpt and MAN I wasn't ready. That audition was arguably my best one, but I'm not going to be caught off guard again.
3. This is a competition between you and you, and you cannot control the outcome.
I’ve turned audition preparation into a game rather than focusing on how everyone else who's showing up is going to sound. How much better can I play this excerpt? How much sweeter can I make my sound? How much crisper can the articulation get? It’s not about what everyone else is doing, but about what I can do. This way, I can limit my frustration with myself and keep a positive attitude.
But how do you keep that positive attitude on audition day? It’s not always that simple. In the beginning, I would get wrapped up in how my competition played in the group warm-up; this affected my mental focus and most of the time, I’d go into my preliminary round and make some catastrophic mistake.
Earplugs are my best friend at auditions now. They don’t necessarily block out all of the noise, but they block out a great deal of it and allow me to focus on my own playing without my ears getting blown out by someone else. 20 flutes in a room (especially if that’s a church sanctuary) playing Midsummer Night’s Dream or Firebird over and over is probably the most obnoxious thing I have ever experienced.
Be focused on you, and what you can accomplish. On the other side of that curtain, you cannot control someone’s opinion of your playing. You could do everything right and still get cut, because your sound may not have been what that committee is looking for. Auditions are incredibly subjective; if you let every rejection get to you, you will not survive long enough to win a job.
That’s not to say that you can’t be upset, or angry if something doesn’t go your way. I’ve had phone calls to my husband in tears. I’ve been irrationally angry at results. But it’s all been directed at the situation that I was in, and there’s no one to blame. Seriously, there’s no one to blame. So let it out, and go get some sushi (my post-audition meal of choice).
4. Audition Day is a Normal Day!
Everyone talks about what you should eat on audition day to what food/drink you should be cutting from your diet so that you’re at your physical best. I take everything they say with a grain of salt because I tend to not deviate from my normal routine. I didn’t back then, when I wasn’t advancing at auditions, and I don’t deviate now, when I am.
Your success is determined by your preparation and your focus. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do on audition day, but do what works for you. If you need to cut out caffeine and alcohol three weeks before the audition, do it! If you don’t, don’t! Who cares? It’s about how you operate the best, not about how everyone else operates.
I drink my decaf coffee, like I do every morning, unless I’m already bouncing off the walls with excitement. I eat a healthy breakfast. I eat a decent lunch. I drink/eat whatever I feel I need to to maintain what is “normal” for me. I warm up with an abridged version of what I do daily, so I can maintain my optimum sound without blowing out my chops. I still maintain my habit of focusing in short bursts, as I do when I practice. “On audition day, you only have to get it right once,” I tell myself. When I’m in the group warmup, I’ll be checking Facebook, Instagram, and texting my husband; no different from any other day. When I’m in my private warm up room, I’ll pray; no different from any other day. When I’m in the audition, I perform; I’m used to it now.
You do get used to it once you’ve done it enough. That I can promise you.
Yes, auditions are hard. They’re exhausting. You’re often left with a headache at the end of the day and you just want to sleep for 15 hours while stuffing your face at the same time.
(no? Just me?)
If what you’re doing isn’t working, you can change it. I’ve found that these methods have greatly reduced my anxiety over audition days in general and put me in a much happier mental place.
There is nothing that frustrates me more than when colleagues express their sympathy over a lost audition or competition. This isn’t to say I’m ungrateful for how much they care (really, I love you guys, and you’re all wonderful), but it adds to the stigma that losing is bad and you should feel bad.
In times of loss, we really learn the most about ourselves. Loss of a loved one, a job, a competition…it doesn’t matter. It’s at these times that we are tested the most. We are sad, sometimes miserable, and we cannot understand why something like this would happen.
The fact of the matter is: it’s part of life, no matter what.
So, I was cut from the preliminary round at my most recent audition, which happened to be my first piccolo audition. Frustrating, yes, but fine. I treated myself to greasy fast food afterwards, and the next day I set out to make a list of what I could do better.
Hint: This is something EVERYONE should be doing. EVERYONE. No exceptions. It’ll bruise your ego, but it’s good for you, I promise.
Here’s what my list looked like:
After you make a list, you need a strategy moving forward. Crafting this strategy sometimes requires trial and error, even if you’re at an advanced stage. That’s okay! As we grow older, our brains change and sometimes the best way we learn changes, too. There is no shame in changing your method if it no longer works for you. From here, I’ll take the four points I’ve listed and I will briefly discuss my strategy (and other strategies you can try).
The tuner is my friend, the tuner is my friend…if I say it enough times, it’ll be true, right?
A tuner is a great tool, but we can often find ourselves so dependent upon it that we don’t use it correctly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen colleagues leave the tuner on their stand during a rehearsal, trying to keep themselves at A=440.
You can’t do that. WRONG!
Great intonation doesn’t start with relying on a tuner to stay in tune, but with listening and developing your ear. In a large ensemble rehearsal, you take your A from the oboe and off you go; from there, it is everyone’s responsibility to listen to each other to make sure everyone is in tune. Leaving a tuner on your stand won’t help you if you’re a lone flute battling the first violins. You’re going to lose that fight.
I’ve had a year off from school, and very limited ensemble experience within that year, so I know my ear has suffered. To mitigate the risk of sounding horrible, I have started to practice with a tuner in this way:
I play my long tone set (B natural to B flat) with the tuner, watching it and taking note of what my lips and airstream are doing to get the note in tune. I sometimes do this a couple of times, in case I’m feeling mentally slow that day. Then, I play the set again, but this time I try to recall how those notes sounded when they were in tune before I look at the tuner to correct myself. I feel this is the best way to train your ear.
Another method you can try, if you’re feeling brave, is to put your tuner on the music stand, turn it around to face a camera (your phone camera will work), and proceed to play your long tones. From there, you can listen back to the video recording and see what’s going on with the tuner, and take note of your pitch tendencies.
Finally, practicing with a drone is a fantastic way to keep your ear in check if you don’t currently have a group to play with. I’ve purchased the Tunable app on my iPad (It’s also in the Google Play App Store for $2.95) and you can set it up to play chords for you to tune with. If you have the time, check it out; I find it rather fun.
This is something that I don’t do enough of. I’m not ashamed to admit it because if I admit it enough, I know I’ll make it a habit.
A good microphone is a good investment. I’m currently using a Zoom H2N. It’s small, but it gets the job done to make a great audio recording. You can find it here (with the accessory pack, headphones, and card) on Amazon if you need an upgrade: https://www.amazon.com/Zoom-Portable-Recorder-Headphones-Accessory/dp/B01FKKK3QU/ref=pd_lpo_267_tr_t_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=NY859Y015852XW0X8JDS
However, ask your friends what they use and see what they recommend if you’re budget-conscious.
When it comes to listening back to your recordings, also invest in a good pair of headphones. I love my husband’s noise-cancelling headphones, paired with his new laptop. Shop around and see what you can find!
These go hand-in-hand with recording yourself if you’re the nervous type. For me, when the red light turns on, I get quite nervous, and it helps to use recording as a mock audition when I don’t have anyone around who can listen to me.
For orchestral auditions: I recently purchased a copy of Sharon Sparrow’s 6 Weeks to Finals and I love her idea of using notecards in your practicing. She describes in the book that you write every excerpt on a separate notecard, and you pull a certain amount out of your stack to work on. I plan to implement this in a mock audition sort of way: shuffle the deck, and pull out 5 or 6 excerpts to use in each “round”. In my last audition, we didn’t start the preliminary round with the required concerto, which definitely threw me off. With this method, I imagine there will be no surprises in excerpt choice in the future. Here’s hoping!
For any other competition: We’re always told to perform as much as possible, but sometimes the opportunities are slim. This is where YouTube and SmartMusic come in. Both are great ways to play with your accompaniment if you cannot find an accompanist. I know for a fact that the piano accompaniment for the Mozart Concerto in G is on YouTube…now you have no excuse as to why you can’t make your Mozart sound great :)
Prepare the Whole Excerpt (Seriously)
When I saw that the audition required only the opening of Tchaikovsky 4, mvt. 3, I was ecstatic. Less work for me, right?
Well, I got to the audition, and I was told by the committee, “We didn’t ask you to prepare the fast part, but if you have, go ahead.”
Me, internally: “seriously?”
I’m sure there were more reasons for me to be cut from the audition early on, but it wouldn’t surprise me if my choice to prepare only what was asked was one of those reasons.
Make the time. If you see a list and think, “oh, that’s weird that they aren’t asking me to prepare this excerpt out of this piece,” just make the time to prepare it. You never know what might happen on stage.
This also goes for competitions, too. If you know you have to prepare so much repertoire and you only have so much time given to you to compete, don’t cut corners to save yourself some grief. I remember a competition in graduate school when I was supposed to prepare the entire Prokofiev Sonata, but I decided to give more attention to the first three movements instead of the last, because my accompanist and I were short on time.
Well, sure enough, the judge asked for the last movement.
We managed to play it pretty well (even though we only ran through it once) and I was awarded honorable mention that day, but lesson learned: make the time. Plan to prepare well.
If you lose, it’s not the end of the world. Do what you need to make yourself feel better while you’re down, but pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get back to work. Analyze what you could have done better and just move forward. When you think about it, it’s not that difficult.
Before I begin, I want to take the time to explain that I have not yet won an orchestral audition, so if you think I am not properly qualified to write an article about proper audition preparation, please bear with me. I do not define success by winning the audition, but by finding a method that helps to make the most out of the audition experience.
I felt it would only be appropriate to write about this topic, considering I will be flying out to an audition on Wednesday of this week. My own preparation has been at the forefront of my mind, so it’s only kind to share!
As musicians, we tend to worry so much about our musical preparation that other aspects of the audition become secondary to us. As a young undergraduate, I would think, “As long as my excerpts are perfect, everything else will take care of itself.”
Well, now (at 25), I absolutely care about how I prepare myself for an audition outside of the music. Comes with age, I suppose? It might be because I feel much older than I actually am.
(or it’s my gray hair)
Give Yourself Time (or Don’t)
Plan to arrive at least 24-36 hours before your audition, ESPECIALLY if you’re planning to fly. This will hopefully give you a cushion to re-book flights if you get stuck in any delays, and still arrive in enough time to get yourself situated and get focused.
For me, I find that I function much better when I don’t feel rushed, but if I have too much time sitting idle, I get incredibly anxious. I like to bring other repertoire or work with me to pass the time before I head to the audition site, or even research what there is to do in the town I’m staying. A distraction is helpful for me on audition day; no need to get nervous or anxious until it’s time!
Note: it is incredibly poor form to practice anything other than your audition repertoire while you’re in the warm-up rooms at your audition. If you feel you need to play early in the day, only then would be a good time to play something else to relax your nerves. In your hotel room. Away from your potential future employer.
If you’re the type that gets incredibly anxious over being rushed, plan out your time in the days leading up to and days after the audition. Plan your meals, meditation, visualization, warmup, listening, naps (yes, naps, why not?)…whatever you generally do before your audition. Stick to a schedule!
Don’t Eat Like Crap…But Don’t Drastically Change Your Diet Either
It doesn’t matter what your friends say may help them, but the less change immediately leading up to the audition, the better. If you want to try eating a banana before your mock auditions to see if it helps you with your nerves, go right ahead. Want to see what cutting caffeine will do? Don’t do that right before an audition unless you know your body can handle it. Do your experiments at home in the weeks before.
Personally, I will drink multiple cups of decaf or a couple cups of half-caf per day, but when the audition day comes around, I do not drink coffee. My heart rate is already elevated and I wake up amped up, so I know I don’t need the extra stimulant in my system. Know your body! Know what you can and cannot handle and stick with it. No amount of bananas will likely make you win the job.
(Fruit is great, though…but I hate bananas. For real.)
On audition day, I do my best to avoid exceptionally greasy food because I tend to avoid that kind of food on a day-to-day basis. I don’t go out adventure dining, but I don’t stick to bread and water, either. Balanced meals that you’re used to eating will do the trick just fine.
However, if you’re used to eating McDonald’s on the regular...go pound those Chicken McNuggets! The point is…eat what you’re used to eating. There’s nothing special you need to do on audition day unless you find it absolutely necessary.
A last thought: Snacks. If you tend to get hungry every two hours like I do, bring snacks for yourself and make sure you’re fed. Pretzels are my favorite...I’ve found that a sandwich bag full of pretzels will hold me over for a few hours.
Explore Your Site
Scout out your audition site before you head to check in. Note parking places, familiarize yourself with public transit. If you couldn’t bring much of your own food on your trip, locate restaurants and convenience stores that are nearby. You may need a bite between rounds, if you have the time.
On audition day, just smile and be nice to everyone you meet even though you may be shaking on the inside. This doesn’t mean you have to “verbally compete” with your colleagues (otherwise known as trying to psych people out), but introducing yourself and asking how someone is will make you look calm, cool, and collected. Fake it til you make it…it helps me to fake being happy and excited when I’m nervous, because eventually I trick myself into being happy and excited.
Play the Music
This could have gone without saying…but technical proficiency is nothing without the music behind it. You are giving a performance; own it and show the committee what you have to offer. Every committee will be looking for something different, thus making the results relatively subjective. It’s imperative to stand by your product at this point and own the musical choices you’ve made.
Don’t Be a Sore Loser
If you don’t advance to the next round, quietly pack up your things and thank the personnel manager for the opportunity. You may be feeling all sorts of negative emotions right now, but wait until you get to the car to let them out. Once you’re calm, go through your recollection of the audition round and be 100% honest with yourself. Most of the time, you’ll find the reason you got cut.
Note: some orchestras will explicitly tell you that they won’t give comments, but in my experience, it doesn’t hurt to ask for comments in a respectful way. The worst anyone can say is no, and if they say yes, you’ll have a valuable resource at your disposal for your next audition.
Try to remember: you worked your tail off, you prepared the excerpts, and you spent the money to show up today. There are still a lot of flutists who are sitting at home, not taking this audition. You’re already ahead of them, and doing right by yourself to take this opportunity.
If you made it to the end, thank you for giving me a chance! There are an incredible number of resources out there to ease your preparation into a relatively fluid process, and discussion is welcome.
It's a new day, and to update my readers, I'm feeling much better lately. I have some doctor's appointments coming up and I will be asking some important questions regarding my current medications. I'm hoping I will get some answers.
Now, onto the real post:
Burnout can strike at any time. I’ve seen it all in my own endeavors; I’ve been burned out after sightreading any given piece, or right when I’m walking on stage to compete, or two weeks away from whatever orchestral audition I’m planning on taking.
The latter is where I am right now.
I love orchestral music. I love playing in an orchestra; it’s where I feel the most comfortable. I’m learning to embrace the audition process in order to play to my full potential, but some days I’d like to set my excerpts on fire and never look back.
In fact, my cats would probably thank me if I did. Sorry, babies…can’t do that.
However, I’m straying from the point of this post…today, I want to discuss the multiple ways you can fight burnout through boosting your unique, individual sense of creativity…as well as some obvious ideas that you may not have thought of before.
A music career is one driven by passion as opposed to making ourselves financially comfortable, so when the urge to quit (momentarily or permanently) strikes, we have a difficult time dealing with it. We identify with our career, instead of with who we are as individuals.
And that, my dear readers, allows us to segue to what you really came for:
Get a Hobby
Seriously, guys. The “music is my life” mantra should have died with your high school emo self. (Admittedly, I still listen to My Chemical Romance for nostalgia’s sake. No shame.)
Music is your career now. That means, like any other career, it’s okay to take a night off and take some time away, no matter where you are in your preparation. Lately for me, this means Netflix and couch with a cat on my lap.
If you’ve read up until this point and you’re thinking, “well, I really don’t have a hobby”, you need to do some soul searching. You will be much more well-adjusted with a hobby outside of music.
…then again, the concept of a “well-adjusted” musician is pretty humorous.
Metaphorically and literally.
First, this involves physically putting your flute on its stand (or putting it away) and resolving NOT to touch it. If you’re anything like me, I have a very hard time with this, because my brain is convinced that one more attempt to run through that godforsaken Mendelssohn Scherzo will be the final attempt.
NEWSFLASH: it never is.
Second, now would be the time to either leave your practice room and go for a walk, or feed your Facebook/Instagram addiction and spend some time scrolling on your phone. There is nothing better than finding a particularly funny meme to take your mind off of your frustrations.
This is actually a technique that comes from my husband’s dystonia therapy. Fingers giving you trouble? Altering your rhythms/articulations isn’t helping one bit? Go play another instrument (NOT your piccolo) or a video game.
Dystonia patients use this technique to build new neurological pathways in their brain, to help lessen the effects of their paralysis. Essentially, building these new circuits increases the ability to learn/re-learn. For those who don’t suffer from this condition, this is a great way to increase dexterity. You will find that upon returning to your flute, you will have greater ease of motion and you are more relaxed.
Disclaimer: if you feel you are developing symptoms of focal dystonia, please seek professional help. However, at the same time, do NOT go looking for this condition.
Can’t bring yourself to step away from your instrument? No problem. Here are some ways you can beat burnout without putting your flute down:
Sightread (even if you hate it)
Sightreading is a skill we should all be practicing. Yes, you can practice it! Let me count the ways…
Yes, I know the audition is two weeks away, but it’s okay to take a break from whatever you’re working so hard on to play something you enjoy! This method works best for me when I feel like I’m analyzing my excerpts so much that I have forgotten how the music is really supposed to sound. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the nitpicking, technical aspects of excerpts (or other repertoire) and forget how to be musical. I personally love playing pieces out of the Flute Music by French Composers book or one of the Telemann 12 Fantasies to get my creative juices flowing.
Change Your Warmup Routine
If you know you’re beginning to get burned out, get ahead of it and start your practice days by switching things up right away. Routine is great, but you don’t need to play the same exercises day in and day out.
I like to begin most of my days by playing through one of the Reichert or Maquarre exercises, slowly and musically. I push and pull any notes of my choosing, trying to come up with new ways to make these exercises sound as melodious as possible with the best sound I can muster. Once I complete a set of exercises, I launch into my long tones.
It’s no secret that I hate long tones.
So, I like to play my long tones differently every day, depending on my mood.
Some days, I’ll stick with the traditional setup. B natural above the staff, slurred down a half step to B flat, sans vibrato. Repeat with vibrato.
Other days, I’ll skip the repeat and play the first note without vibrato, and the second note with vibrato.
From there, I vary it by playing three descending notes instead of two, or I will change my pattern to one consisting of two groups of descending half steps (B, B-flat, C, B). This is a great exercise not only for warming up sound and vibrato, but for warming up your tone colors as well.
It’s easy to get burned out, but it’s also easy to recover from. It doesn’t mean you don’t love what you do, or that you aren’t dedicated. It means that you need to give yourself a break. Your physical and mental health is just as important as your musical health!