How to practice:

The first thing we tend to do when we practice is impress ourselves by playing something we know and can sound good playing.  I say impress ourselves because we are the only one in the room.   Here is what we should do:

  1. Play long tones in the lower register of the instrument. By playing long tones we establish our embouchure for the day.  If we start playing high notes and tighten the embouchure then we will likely have a tight embouchure for the entire day.  We use long tones to again establish the correct embouchure develop a great tone, and basically learn our instrument. Long tones set us up for the day… by playing the lower register of the instrument, you will need to fill the instrument with air, helping develop the air column for the day.
  2. Learn something new… play something you have never played before.  Play it slowly and correctly.  Learning something new everyday is the fastest way to improve our playing.
  3. After you play the new music then go back and play a few long tones to relax the embouchure and make sure the tone is good.
  4. The time to play to impress yourself is after you have played long tones, new music and have a great tone.  Once the practice is done, then play and have some fun.  Always learn something new everyday!
  5. Choose something you cannot play and make it yours.
  6. When you feel your embouchure getting tired then take a short break, relax and start to practice again.

    EXAMPLE: I am only practicing things in C-Sharp this month.  And believe me there are a lot of things in C-Sharp that I cannot play.  But there will be a lot fewer by the end of the month.

I was at a clarinet convention and watched clarinet players go from booth to booth and mostly they played the same thing at each booth. It didn't matter whether they were trying clarinets, barrels or mouthpieces, they played the same thing.  I like to play a B-Flat major scale because I can play the hell out of it for all three octaves… B major not so much… so I decided never to start with the same scale or start on the same note. Again, start on a different note and play something you are not really comfortable playing.  Then you will improve.