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I play clarinet. I am not that great, but can play a high range. I use a plastic clarinet with #3 reeds, and don't have too many of them. I want to get better, yet not play for more than 45 minutes because I can't fit that into my schedule. What would be the best about of time to practice clarinet between 15 and 50 minutes?
EDIT: I have a few songs that I want to get better at. I know all the notes in the songs, and can play them reasonably at a fast pace.

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I want to get better, yet not play for more than 45 minutes because I can't fit that into my schedule. What would be the best about of time to practice clarinet between 15 and 50 minutes?

45 minutes per day is plenty for a non-professional player. There are a few points you would want to take into account when planning your session.

How to spend the time

Practicing correctly is often boring, sorry, that's how it is. You would do well to follow something similar to this plan:

  1. Long notes
    • Duration: ~5 minutes
    • What to do: holding long notes in the middle register area: start with middle (open) G, go up to C# (by semitones), then go back to G and go down to C#. Start each note at pp, go up to f, and back to pp, then hold it at that stably for as long a you can. Fade it out when you run out of air.
    • What to listen to: starting notes in pp is difficult, so make sure they starts clearly and not mushy. If it's hard, start at mp instead. Also, try not to vary the pitch too much when changing dynamics. It will change a bit, but you can minimize the effect. you can use a tuner for real-time feedback (recommended).
    • What it works on: the most important thing for a player - sound production. This is your bread and butter, air control.
  2. Big intervals (octaves to 4ths)

    • Duration: ~5 minutes. Pick one interval per day.
    • What to do: start from low E with a comfortable sound for you, plan the jump to the next note, and when you are ready, jump. You might need to give a bit more air before some jumps A 5ths exercise will look like this:

      • E0 - B0 - E1 - B1 - E2 - B2 - E3
      • F0 - C0 - F1 - C1 - F2 - C2 - F3
      • F#0 ...

      Breathe when you need, but repeat the note after which you breathed to create continuity.

    • What to listen to: try to hit the correct pitch (use a tuner) and the same volume level as before. For octaves this won't be easy since the different registers behave very differently. For example, if you jump from middle (open) E to the E above and don't correct for the volume, the higher E will scream, for sure.
    • What it works on: note transitions, ear training, air control.
  3. Chromatic scale
    • Duration: ~2-3 minutes
    • What do do: chromatic scale up and down at whatever speed is comfortable, try to go faster and higher (G4).
    • What to listen to: clean quick transitions (middle Bb - B), check that you're not slowing down at the more difficult places (use a metronome if needed), uniformity.
    • What it works on: chromatic passages, technique.
  4. Scales - arpeggios and small intervals
    • Duration: ~10 minutes. Pick one scale per day.
    • What do do: there a lot of exercises you can do here. Start slowly then go faster as you can.
      • Go up and down the scale with different articulations (regular, legato - staccato - staccato, staccato - staccato - legato etc.).
      • 3rds up and down: (Cmaj/Amin) E - G - F - A - G - B - A - C...
      • Break chords (arpeggios). For exmple, in C: Maj (E0 - G0 - C0 - G0 - C0 - E1 - C0 - E1 - G1...), 7th, Maj7, 6th (inverted minor 7th, so I would say not mandatory), dim, half-dim (also shared with other scales).
    • What to listen to: clean transitions, uniformity in tempo and sound.
    • What it works on: scales and chords, ear training.
  5. Book exercise and etudes: I assume you don't have the time and/or the books. Basically, these are small passages that you need to play 10-20 times each, or follow the instructions.
  6. Pieces
    • Duration: ~20-30 minutes. 1 or 2 pieces per day depending on length (a movement in a concerto counts as 1 piece, not the whole concerto).
    • What to do: play it. Work on the technically difficult parts. Give it a musical meaning (interpretation). Have fun finally?
    • What to listen to: mistakes of any kind - transitions, dynamics, articulations, sound, notes etc.
    • What it works on: phrasing and interpretation, make the music say what it's supposed to say - the 2nd most important thing for a player. The rest depends on the piece.

I use a plastic clarinet with #3 reeds, and don't have too many of them.

Plastic reeds last longer so you don't need many. Their sound quality is lacking, but it's probably good enough. Make sure they are not too hard for you.

I have a few songs that I want to get better at. I know all the notes in the songs, and can play them reasonably at a fast pace.

By "songs" I hope you mean pieces. If it's popular songs you won't get much out of them except for entertaining your friends. If you need recommendations for good pieces for you level ask a question. IMSLP will have them.

Don't try to play fast for the sake of it, play comfortably and increase the speed slowly. It will come with time.

  • not plastic reeds!!!!! plastic clarinet!!!! – Iguanodon_Bubbles7777777 Apr 16 '17 at 16:00
  • @Iguanodon_Bubbles7777777 He says he doesn't have many reeds, so I brought up the option of plastic reeds which last longer. Having a wood or plastic clarinet doesn't change anything for the player. – user1803551 Apr 16 '17 at 16:03
  • Do plastic reeds withstand accidentally kicking them? – Iguanodon_Bubbles7777777 Apr 16 '17 at 16:04
  • @Iguanodon_Bubbles7777777 No idea. – user1803551 Apr 16 '17 at 16:07
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I play the piano, not the clarinet. However, length of practise is always the subject of different opinions.

Generally, it's not about the length of practise, it's the quality of your practice. You can spend hours practising, just going through the motions without engaging your brain, ears and general senses to achieve very little. Or, You can concentrate and engage all that is necessary to achieve progress and improvement in very little time, which would fit better with your schedule. I spend a lot of time with the piano but I do not value the length of practise, just the quality. It's not uncommon for me to spend time on a very specific bar or even a few notes to improve on a difficult or technical passage.

I love to practise because of that. I make my practise interesting. I change things all the time to keep it fun.

Here's a good article: http://www.paythepiper.co.uk/practice.asp

Passage on practise from piano technique bye L.H Phillip but true for all instrument practise.

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Practice, and practice time are very much personal, therefore pretty subjective - more a matter of opinion that this is what you should do.Some like to pressurise themselves, and have something done and dusted by a certain time/day. This may mean a lot of practice because there is a deadline. If I have an important gig, with only a certain amount of 'free' time, I could fill it - maybe a couple of hours at each sitting, or more, to get something sorted. The converse is that I may be working on something with no timescale, so I may do 5 mins at a time, when I go past the particular instrument. Often, that's more productive in the long term, as there's the intervening time for things to sink in, away from the music.

Another important factor is frame of mind, state of brain, etc. Just 'practising' for an hour when you've come in after a hard day is a waste for most folks. And then, when you've dutifully done your 'practice', how do you know when you don't need to 'practise' that piece any more? For some, it's playing it perfectly 10 times on the trot, others, it's without the dots, others, it's ah, but can I now play it in another key? The list is pretty well endless. So, there is no absolute answer, but in this one, there are a few criteria to ponder.

  • This doesn't clearly say how long to practice, and I said between 15 and 45 minutes. – Iguanodon_Bubbles7777777 Feb 8 '17 at 3:41
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    This clearly doesn't say because there is no clearly obvious answer, as I tried to explain here. The fact that there are as yet only two answers highlights the point that there will never be an exact - or even approximate - period of time to practise. If you want an answer like that, let's say 30 minutes. But then 25 could be better. Or 35. Each day may well be different. – Tim Feb 8 '17 at 7:28
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I don't think there is a best length of time for practicing. Normally, I have to take a break after practicing continuously for 30 to 35 minutes. Sometimes, I just practice for ten to twenty five minutes, then take a break.

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