What do you do to improve your technique?

Do you play the plethora of scale exercises? Technique books – there’s a myriad of them too.

So How do you know which ones to use? Every teacher you have ever had, has a different favorite. Is one better then the other?

And so you just play your scales to play scales.

Or is that even important?

I mean, any piano major can tell you, you learn technique through your solos, right?

Well, maybe that’s what pianists do.

But low-and-behold we aren’t pianists. We need our exercises, etudes, scale studies, and anything else “the cat drags in” to improve our technique!

But, I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s not so much about which books and what exercises you do that makes the difference. But rather, it’s the routine of it all.

Doing the same thing over and over day after day, that’s what will take your technique to the next level.

When I first began taking private lessons (which wasn’t until high school, because my parents, both musicians, wouldn’t give me private lessons until I demonstrated more of an interest in majoring in music) the teacher had me purchase the BIBLE of technique books. Come on, we all know which book that is  – but for the uninitiated:

Taffanel and Gaubert’s 17 Grand Exercises for the Flute.

Taffanel and Gaubert My Well-Worn Copy

What. A. Book.

I’ve used many other books since then. But I come back to Taffanel and Gaubert again and again. It has opened my eyes to such things that as I hadn’t done before. My practice, up until then had consisted mostly of what my public school lessons offered:

  • Play through a few scales
  • Play through my etude
  • Work on my solo
  • Bam – done

My technique was mediocre. But in my small school district I was tops. However, I knew I wasn’t where I needed to be. But, I didn’t really now how to get there either.

Along comes “T and G” as my students and I affectionately call it. That made all the difference in my technique – that and a lot of practice.

It wasn’t just playing through exercises but intentionally playing an exercise.  Intentional means that you take one exercise and practice it using the metronome and your concentration.  You must listen to your playing correcting unevenness and inconsistencies.  Never ever go faster then you can play perfectly. If you can’t correct your unevenness then go slower.  Creep the metronome up slowly so your fingers go with it.  Stay with that one exercise until you really feel you are confident with the speed and with your finger muscle control.

I do mean stay with this exercise.  Stay for weeks and months.  Then after all that time keep doing it.

Now this doesn’t mean you do nothing else but one exercise for your technical practice time but the ones that you are including in your time you do every day without varying it at all.

Always always play with a good tone no matter what you are doing.

So go find yourself some exercise/scale study books and go get ’em!

Dr. Flute