Becoming a great musician requires a daily dose of Vitamin P - PRACTICE! I first heard this phrase used by the incredible music educator, Ken Gammie. Ken is the Director of Bands at Roosevelt Middle School in Vista, CA. I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Practice Makes Perfect” before. There is no such thing as perfect in music. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES! A better phrase to remember is “PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT.” One will improve quickly through correct repetition during practice. Here are some practice tips that will help you become a great at practicing.
Simplify! Focus on 1 or 2 things at a time such as tone, intonation, rhythm, articulations, dynamics, and phrasing.
Blow! Always strive for a deep, quiet, relaxed, constant inhale. Be sure to make your breath as natural as possible. What goes in, comes out! (Bad breath in - bad sound out. Great breath in - great sound out).
Practice your entire range every time you practice. This should include dynamics (ppp-fff), tonguing (staccato, legato, marcato, tenuto), tonguing speed (slow-fast, single, double, triple) and range (low notes - high notes).
Listen to as much music as possible (live concerts, television, recordings, and movies), particularly of great musicians. Be sure to listen to singers and other instrumentalists (not just brass!). Always try to go to live concerts as often as possible!
You should always have a small mirror (to watch your embouchure and posture), pencil, metronome, tuner, timer, practice notebook, and something with which you can record yourself.