THE GOLDEN RULE OF TUNER USE: play first, listen to the pitch, then look at the tuner. Otherwise, you’re training your eyes, not your ears.

I wrote previously about the link between
listening and slow practice. Today I’m suggesting you use your tuner while you warm up (and more, of course), because believe it or not, careful tuner time, like slow practice, improves our air.

If our air isn’t consistent, the tuner and/or our ears will tell us that some notes are out of tune or “out of color” (sounding different from the other notes). It turns out that our automatic reaction to those problems is to use more air; we seem to understand instinctively that nothing else works.

Many of us go through our practice routines doing the same, habitual things that make us comfortable but not better. And one of those counterproductive habits often is backing off on our air in response to anything hard, from tough technical passages to delicate attacks to bad intonation.

manipulate notes and lines, rather than playing them with our air. A great phrase I saw somewhere is, “My air is the baton that guides and shapes my music.” The tuner helps improve our air, not just our pitch.

So use that tuner early on, every day. It will give you all kinds of immediate, good results—no delayed gratification here!