March 18, 2020: I am beginning a blog to provide students with advice that I have on practicing and playing your instrument. During this time of social distancing, many of you are in circumstances where your time is taken up with jobs and other studies. For those students, this time in your lives might not afford you a lot of practice time. But, for those students with extra free time, this is a time for you to put in some serious practicing. During one summer when I was about 21 years old, I began the idea of trying to see how many hours I could practice in one day. If you try this, keep in mind that you should try not to practice more than 45 minutes at one time. Practicing for very long periods can actually be detrimental to your playing and can cause harm to the various muscles used in playing an instrument. So, my goal during that time was to try and practice 6 hours in one day. When I was 21, I had already spent 3 years in an army band. I was discharged from the army, and I decided to go to college and major in music using the GI Education Bill. After army basic training, I attended the Armed Forces School of Music near Norfolk, VA. At the music school, there was a navy musician who was an incredible guest clarinet instructor.He was also a very gifted conductor. He was from one of the navy's fleet bands. Since the age of 16, this navy clarinet player had never missed a day of practicing 6 hours. Wow! He was probably about 35 years old when I encountered him. How did he do that, when he also had duties in the navy and had a family to spend time with? Incredible! I tried to figure out how he managed to practice that much. Maybe, he started his day around 5 am and practiced for 2 hours before work. Then at lunchtime, he put in 1 hour. Then after work, 2 hours. Then just before bed, 1 hour. Maybe, that's how he did it. I don't know for sure. All I know is that he was an incredible clarinet player. So, there is the key to sounding good. YOU NEED TO PRACTICE!