Are you struggling to get the sound you want out of your piccolo? Think about what piccolo exercises you practice and if they’re helping you reach your goals.
If they aren’t helping, you might want to find some new exercises. To help with that, I am sharing some of my favorite piccolo exercises that you should try.
Before we get into the exercises, this post contains affiliate links. Click here to read the full disclosure policy.
One of the best piccolo exercises is to just play long tones. You can do the same type of long tones on the piccolo as you play on the flute.
So take it slowly, start on a note, like low B. Play that note until you get a good tone, and then descend chromatically to a Bb and repeat.
You can then start working on your long tones in the upper register. Go slowly, one note at a time. And make sure you’re happy with your tone before you move to the next note.
Another one of the best piccolo exercises is to use a drone. This is where you play one note using your phone or another device, and you play the same note or a different note over it.
If you play the same note, work on matching the pitch of the drone. Then, you can get a good idea of how in tune you naturally play.
When playing a different note, you can play the fifth, the third, or the octave. Those notes are good to tune to, and you can use that practice if you ever play with another person.
Piccolo Intonation Tip
If you aren’t sure how in tune your piccolo plays, you can check this. Get a tuner with or without a drone feature, and set the tuner on your stand.
Print off a piccolo or flute fingering chart or make a copy of one you have. Then, tune your piccolo so that the A is right in tune.
Next, go down and then up chromatically and see where the other notes fall. If a note is sharp, mark a + next to it. And if a note is flat, mark a – next to it on your fingering chart.
You also need to be able to play more technical stuff on the piccolo. As much as I love playing lyrical solos, there are a lot more technical solos and pieces.
So being able to play scales is super important. You can find scales specifically for the piccolo, or you can just play from memory if you’ve learned how to play scales on the flute.
Aside from just playing scales up and down, you should do other technical exercises. There are tons of books for the flute with exercises that also work on the piccolo, or you can use scales from repertoire.
Along with your scales, be sure to practice your arpeggios on the piccolo. Also like scales, you can find arpeggio exercises from flute books.
If you’re working on a hard piece with lots of arpeggios, use that piece to inform your practice. Take those arpeggios out of context and play them on your own.
Use those arpeggios to warm up, and play them in different keys. When you come across a similar pattern in another piece, it will seem a lot easier because you already know how to play it.
The Mazzanti Method
One of my favorite piccolo books is The Mazzanti Method. It’s specifically for the piccolo, so you don’t have to worry about leaving out or transposing a ton of low Cs and C#s.
The book contains multiple sections, including tone and technique. So if you like flute exercises but already play them every day, you can switch things up.
You can also play some excerpts from real pieces for the piccolo or other instruments. That can help you really hone in on your tone and technique.
Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Piccolo
If you’re looking to play piccolo in an orchestra (professionally or for fun), you should get the Trevor Wye Practice Book for the Piccolo. It looks similar to the flute book, but it’s quite different.
Instead of tone and technique exercises, this book is full of orchestral excerpts. You can learn a lot of the standard excerpts that you might have to play in an audition.
But you also get to learn some less-well known excerpts. There are also duets, and there are a couple of tone exercises, but this is a great book for learning repertoire in small bites.
Patricia Morris The Piccolo Study Book
The Piccolo Study Book is an excellent resource from Patricia Morris. It starts with a couple of short tone exercises, but the majority is full of etudes.
A lot of the etudes aren’t originally for the piccolo. But they do work really well on the instrument, and the book follows a nice structure for each etude.
If you’re looking for some longer piccolo exercises, you can’t go wrong with this book. It’s also a great resource if you like the Trevor Wye book since Patricia Morris helped create that.
Practice With the Experts – Piccolo
In 2020, Erica Peel, the piccoloist of the Philadelphia Symphony, compiled this book. Practice With the Experts – Piccolo includes exercises from tons of players.
If you want to know what works for a lot of players, you can download the guide. Then, you can print it out or use it on an iPad and read it wherever you need to practice.
This book is also nice if you don’t want to spend money. You can download it for free, so you can start practicing new piccolo exercises immediately.
I kind of already alluded to this, you but you can use almost any flute exercise as a piccolo exercises. If you want to improve your tone or technique, look at some of your favorite flute books.
Then, take those books and apply the exercises to your piccolo playing. That way, you won’t have to buy anything new or start to learn exercises from scratch.
Using the same exercises can be particularly effective if you don’t have much time to practice. But it can also be good when you first start learning the piccolo.
Which Piccolo Exercises Will You Use?
Playing the best piccolo exercises for you can make a world of difference for your practice. Whether your goal is to get a better tone, or you want to improve your technique, you can make it happen.
Think about what your goals are and the amount of time you have. Then, you can choose the right piccolo exercises to help you meet those goals.