by Linda Ratcliff
Map out your practice session out like a workout.
When athletes are getting ready to go for a run, they usually warm up first with some stretches to loosen their muscles. Then they walk for 3-5 minutes, gradually working up to a brisk walk, then jogging, and finally breaking out into a full-steam-ahead run. As they end their run and the workout, most athletes cool down by walking briskly at first and then slower, and finally ending with a few more stretches.
For musicians, a pretty common scenario is to start with scales as a warm-up. I like to start with arpeggios up and down my hammered dulcimer. These exercises serve to loosen up your muscles and get your brain thinking about technique. Next you should move on to the “working” part of your practice time, where you plug away at new tunes. Finally it’s fun to cool down by revisiting some old favorite tunes that you already know well.