musings from a scholar, a performer, and a die-hard pedagogue!
We're all familiar with 'working out.' Each of us has our own style, but in general, it unfolds something like this:
1.) Put on comfortable clothes and shoes.
2.) Go to the place of activity (gym, outdoors, living room, treadmill, etc.)
4.) Engage in Active Exercise.
This order of events evolved from human anatomy. Our musculature demands stretching and deep breathing to aid in thorough circulation and relaxation prior to strenuous activity. Likewise, after muscles have contracted during exercise, cool-down stretching and breathing re-creates this circulatory and tension-releasing effect.
Bassooning is demanding upon the human body. In addition to the obvious finger, hand, wrist, and arm muscles involved in performing, bassoonist are also engaging shoulder, facial, oral cavity, abdominal, & intercostal muscles (among others!!).
With this realization, shouldn't we PRACTICE as we EXERCISE?
1.) Put on comfortable clothes and shoes. You don't care to run in heels--it is safe to assume a 3-hour practice session cannot occur in a coat and tie, or tight-fitting tube-top. Allow your body the space to work. :)
2.) It is hard to do Pilates in my Kitchen. I need a peaceful, clean space appropriate for the movements (and where I won't be tempted by cookies...).
Find a practice space where you won't be interrupted. A space that inspires and encourages you.
3.) Warm-Up. This is crucial. The muscles we use to play bassoon are often under-utilized in life. Warming-up circulates blood to these places. Ease into technique. Try Chris Weait's Warm-Up Book.
4.) Active Exercise. Ever do a weight-training class? Reps. Lots of them. The muscles are only trained if the weight is lifted slowly.
Remember that as you practice: Your muscles are trained more quickly if you practice SLOWLY with a lot of repetition.
My students know the phrase: "Speed is easy; Cleanliness is not."
5.) Cool down. You have worked hard. Your muscles have been going nuts! Time to play something relaxing or "just for fun" so your muscles can slow down. A great opportunity for Sight-Reading!
Enjoy your body-happy practice sessions!