When practicing, make sure that your body feels relaxed and at ease. The following quote is from Lorna McGhee, principal flutist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: “Technique is merely physical coordination and we are at our most coordinated when the body is free from excess tension.”

When your muscles aren’t relaxed, your sound can be muffled quite dramatically when compared to more relaxed playing. Here are some ways to relax your body when practicing:

-Incorporate yoga into your practice routine.

-Take plenty of breaks and walk around your house, so you can’t build up tension over time. James Galway, one of the top flutists of the 20th Century, gives sage advice that applies to musicians of any instrument:

“Taking the flute away from the lips, realign the whole muscular system, and then continue. This had the effect of releasing the tension caused by the stress involved in playing difficult exercises.”

-For pianists: make sure to play with relaxed, rounded fingers on the keyboard.

-For guitarists and flutists: be aware of whether you’re gripping the instrument harder than you need to. Musicians often grip their instrument during more difficult parts of pieces when performing or practicing.

-Focus on your breathing. If you have time, try closing your eyes and visualizing relaxing all of your muscles, one by one, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.