Creative Practice Strategies for Student Musicians

Creative Practice Strategies for Student Musicians

Staying productive while in isolation is difficult for every level of musician. We hope that music can be respite, as opposed to hard work. In this blog, Rian Craypo, principal bassoon, describes tips for shaping your practice routine to make the most out of your time. She also offers some creative challenges to lift your spirits and boost your creative energy. Enjoy!

Shaping your practice routine

  1. Shorter practice sessions throughout the day to conserve physical energy
      1. Get your instrument out of the case and set up
        This seems simple, but it takes a lot of energy to take that first step!
      2. Fundamentals
        Scales, intervals, long-tones, or any other fundamentals important for your instrument.
      3. Repertoire
        Etude or solo repertoire, collaboration piece with a friend, orchestral excerpts, etc.
  2. Reduce decision-making to conserve your mental energy
    Create routines and patterns within your practice sessions so that you can devote your mental energy to your playing.
  3. Practice when you are most focused
    I’m most focused between my first and second meal, so I get all of my practice sessions in before lunch.

Creative Challenges to Boost Creative Energy

Challenge 1: Play and create a custom ringtone

Record or edit a favorite piece/song to upload into a ringtone making app and set it as either your default ringtone or an individual ringtone for a friend or family member. Have fun figuring out a melody and recording the piece to make it your own!

For iPhones, you’ll need to download a recording app like GarageBand (free and easy to use on iPhones or a Mac) to record and upload into the RingtoneMaker app (also free and easy to use).

For Android, the Ringdroid app will let you set any sound or song on your phone as a ringtone.

Challenge 2: Play fundamentals for yourself

Record yourself to play long-tones and scales duos with yourself. If you have an iPhone you can purchase a multitrack recording app to make practicing fundamentals even more productive with extra features.

iPhone: Gridplay – $1.99 plus $0.99 upgrade or Acapella – free 7 day trial, then $9.99 a month (allows collaboration with others)

Android: n-Track Studio – free

Challenge 3: Play musical tag

Record yourself playing the first part of a phrase and send it to a friend to finish the phrase. You can also try having them play the same phrase, but in a completely different style. You can share videos through texts, WhatsApp (free across platforms to message or share photos/videos without data) or by tagging each other on Instagram. Tag, you’re it!

Quarantine Etude Challenge


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rian (@quarantineetudechallenge) on

Follow @quarantineetudechallenge on Instagram. Make a video, use the hashtag #quarantineetudechallenge, then tag a friend! Enjoy playing for yourself and then share – keep it going!

Bonus Tips for Bassoonists

  • Podcast of interviews with professional performing and/or teaching bassoonists and oboists (including Rian)
  • Reed making videos by several well-known performing bassoonists and excellent website for bassoonists of all ages (students and teachers) by Kristin Wolfe Jensen, professor of bassoon at UT Austin

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