Would you like to spice up your Violin practice?
It’s not good enough to just practice for a longer period. You need to practice much better. More proficiently. And as an element of our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning The Violin’, we are going to show you all the knowledge you need to practice the violin better.
Why Longer Violin Practice Doesn't Equal Good Practice
Practice. If you do it regularly enough, you will end up being excellent. You know this. Do you know why is practice so difficult?
Motivation is vital. Without motivation, you’ll not thrust yourself to return to the instrument every single day. Exactly how do you get motivated?
By winning. Yes, that’s what I said. Winning. You are in continual competition with yourself, and whenever things go nicely, you really feel like you are winning. When you’re in this state of mind, it is very easy to practice. It’s the circle of life – winning more will give you even more motivation, which means you practice more. Practising even more usually means you win more, consequently it provides you with more motivation. And that continues exponentially.
Therefore if it’s that easy, how come practice still so hard?
And the answer? Because it’s not really that simple! Just practising isn’t adequate. You could practice for five hours each day and never progress.
Therefore if it’s not the quantity of practice that sets you on the circle of life, exactly what does?
Quality. Quality. Quality.
Practising for 15 minutes every day, targeted, beneficial high-quality practice is a great deal more valuable than 3 hours of unfocused, ‘auto-pilot’ practice.
So you just need top-quality practice in order to leap aboard the circle of life train?
Nope! Nothing is ever that easy. Blend quantity and quality, and you’ll finally become a first-class passenger.
Stay with me to learn how to buy your first-class ticket, and the ways to continue on the train as long as you want…
Structure Your Violin Practice
Just how long should I practice the violin for each day?
15 to 20 mins is a superb starting point, and in all likelihood not any longer than 45 minutes or so at a time. After that time period, human beings usually tend to zone out – and then the practising will become less effective. As a rule of thumb, whenever you feel your concentration waning, quit. Always be happy that you just showed up to your practice session, and don’t fret over how long you practice for.
How often should you be practicing?
This is a simple answer – practice daily. Doing this, you’ll transform your violin practice into a habit. A compressed, specific daily practice is a lot more helpful than twice per week an hour at a time. And remember, when you’re thinking “but how do I spare the time to accomplish 20 minutes on a daily basis? !? ” – just take some of your energy and time from social media over to the violin. We do in fact, dedicate on average 142 minutes on social media per day!
When do I need to do my violin practice?
It will make no big difference whenever you practice, just simply providing you do practice. Experiment with setting up a fixed schedule for yourself vs. being ad-hok. Notice which options are best, and stick to it.
Violin Practice Top Tips
1. Eliminate All Distractions
This can be your time and effort, so you absolutely do not need anyone disturbing you. So you should definitely turn off your tablet, computer, watch, and more importantly phone, to be as concentrated as you possibly can.
2. Ensure That You're Relaxed
As you’ll hopefully be playing for many hours and years to come, it’s really crucial that you are comfy. The more at ease that you are, the more effective you’ll perform. Pressure is obviously our enemy, so keep it away from your practice room.
3. Goal Setting
What do you need to achieve? Make an attempt to set an ambition that you could achieve within your practice session. Working with goals and objectives, you’ll develop faster plus much more effectively.
Develop a plan, and stick to it. Monday, Wednesday and Friday could possibly be learning 8 new bars/measures; with Tuesday and Thursday assembling whatever you know. Arrange for yourself a reward, and when you achieve your chosen targets, open that box of chocolate!
4. Become Welcoming With Bad Habits
A habit is a thing you habitually, or repeatedly do. And since we have been learning things, we tend to perform them wrong before we do them right. So I know it seems like common sense, but ensure you aren’t practising your faults, or else they’ll turn into bad habits. And we all know bad habits are hard to get rid of!
So if you experience a bad habit appearing out of no-where, shout out a nice big HELLO to it. Then swat it similar to the most irritating fly.
The same goes for fixing specialised difficulties with things such as posture and your technique. Though it can take longer beforehand, it will shell out benefits at a later time and can help you save lots of time.
5. Don't Practice Exactly The Same Way
Have you ever been driving, and suddenly found that you can’t recall the last thirty minutes? Or been on a trip which lasts many hours, but you could only recall particular sections? This is exactly what I call being on ‘auto-pilot’. It is exactly what we have to stay clear of during practice.
If you practice exactly the same way each and every time, your improvement will slow down, your commitment will decrease, and the violin will turn into a chore. You can actually beat this tiny gremlin by switching your practice methods.
There are many alternatives. Close your eyes to play. Attempt playing the piece of music backwards. Consider standing up or sitting down. Play whilst using earphones. Play everything softly, or even loudly. This list goes on and on. Creativity is the name of the game, and whatever you do, don’t become bored!
6. Turn into Your Own Mentor
Most of us learn best once we have somebody over our shoulders, giving us their suggestions. Sadly, unless you own Amazon, you are not likely to be able to pay for your own violin instructor 365 days a year. But Mr Bezos is able to keep his squillions because we don’t need them. We have our own individual teacher inside us.
First of all, it’s more than probable that at least 50% of the time you are playing the violin, you are too busy concentrating as opposed to actually paying attention to what you are playing! It may sound silly, I realize. But it’s true… Now that you’re aware of it, fix it! Listen to your playing WHILST you play…
Secondly, we live in an age where you can generate a respectable recording of your own playing with nothing more than your smartphone. So do it. View it back and self-critique. Keep doing this until you improve.
And even if the world’s most wealthy individuals wanted to hire my personal teacher, they couldn’t afford to pay for it!
7. Start off At The End
You read a book, you locate page one. It’s totally natural. You play a piece of music, you start at the beginning. Yet again, absolutely normal. But with regards to practicing, it’s not a great idea. You’ll become phenomenally proficient at the initial notes, and pretty bad at the rest. So change it up. Start at the end, or maybe halfway through. Then the next day, choose another random place to begin your practice. But whatever you decide to do, don’t always begin at the start!
8. Don't Always Play The Simple Parts
We are all attracted to the path of least resistance. In music, this means enjoying the straightforward parts. After we find an uncomplicated little bit that sounds excellent, many of us usually tend to play it time and time again. The trouble with this is the fact that we don’t improve. It’s actually a dreadful practice approach. So ignore the simple pieces, and concentrate on the sections that you’ll have to work hard at.
Think logically now; which parts do you need to learn first? Yes, that’s correct. The tough sections. The easy parts will sort themselves out.
Go on then! Uncover those tricky areas…
9. Don't Perfect The Piece
One of the best skills you can learn is sight-reading. But what is sight-reading? It’s playing anything that is put before you, immediately and without fuss. The goal isn’t to always be perfect. It’s to get through it as best as possible whilst always keeping rhythm.
10. Using A Metronome
Your metronome is there not as your adversary, but as your friend. So make sure to utilize it!
For pieces which are really fast and difficult, the metronome can be a terrific resource. Set it up with a nice and simple tempo, that you can have fun playing the segment flawlessly. Then on a daily basis, notch up the tempo by a little. Eventually, you’ll end up being at performance speed, and also it should really feel as comfortable as whenever you began at a slower speed.
Bonus Word of advice: For faster sections, try and get at ease performing the tricky areas ten percent faster than you really need to – doing this, when you come back to the speed you want to perform it at, it should really feel nice and easy!
11. Set Rewards For Yourself
Did you notice in point number three that I talked about a treat? Well, I do believe it’s essential I’m mentioning it twice! Make sure you make it rewarding…
Exercises are a pain. We have to do them in sports to warm-up, and playing the violin is absolutely a sport for your fingers (and mind). There are many different exercises that strengthen your fingers, but the main ones are:
Perhaps you think that they’re tedious, but I’ll let you into a secret. Scales are brilliant for getting you ‘in the zone’. It’s also really easy to make scales fun – play them loud or soft, fast or slow, skip every other note or play them slurred one way and separate another – the list is endless.
The perfect finger warm-up. These exercises work on the relationships between fingers and are also excellent for strengthening your fourth (little) finger.
There are multiple options to practice within this series. There are exercises for bow control, changing position and double stops (chords) to name but a few.
Mazas: Etudes Spéciales
A book of studies which tackle many of the challenges of playing the violin such as controlling the bow, creating a consistently good tone, intonation and shifting. Each piece is tuneful, and beautiful. Aim to play each study as beautifully as you can.
Violin Practice Bonus Tips
1. Use the ‘rule of three’ for intonation
Playing in tune is the hardest part of playing the violin. Practice each bar or section until you can play it in tune three times in a row. If you play it incorrectly during the third time then you have to play it three more times. This is a great way to iron out any tricky corners and can be used on very short or slightly longer sections.
2. Shifting practice
If you really analyse your mistakes, you’ll find one of the significant issues with playing the violin is shifting. This is moving your fingers from one position to another, usually higher up the violin.
In the process of shifting, it is highly probable that you’ll land slightly in the wrong place. If this happens, you can play inaccurate and out of tune notes.
So how can we eliminate these mistakes? By practising our shifting.
Repeat each shift hundreds of times until you can do it perfectly every time, even with your eyes closed. That way, when you come to the difficult shift during the piece your muscle memory will take over, and you’ll play it beautifully!
3. Make Your Branch Stronger
Each and every time you do something totally new, your brain learns something about it and produces a neuron. This neuron is like a branch of a tree, and the more times you perform repeatedly the neuron action, you develop it. Quite simply, the branch of the tree gets stronger and more robust. This only occurs though should you do precisely the same thing, repeatedly.
Additionally, should you play things differently every time, you will be making alternative neurons, different tree branches. When you play it differently each and every time, five times, then you’ll end up having five neurons. Five tree branches.
So what’s the matter with that? A branch works much like a path your brain strolls down. It has to pick out one of the possibilities you’ve built. The issue is that instead of one formidable choice, you have other weaker choices. This just confuses your wobbly gel of a brain and slows the processing time right down. The end result is usually a mistake.
So don’t leave things to chance. Stay consistent. Master stuff slowly and accurately. And always play things properly time and again.
4. Recommended Reading
Here are some great books that really helped me when I was starting out and I regularly recommend them to students to this day.
Violin Practice - Summary
- Don’t leave practice to chance, structure it.
- Be conscious and never go on ‘auto-pilot’.
- Short and sweet will lead to faster results
- Print off your list of goals and read it at the start of every week.
- Remember to reward yourself for practising.
About the Author
What Exactly Is Within This Week’s E-mail?
Every week, on a Friday, I send out the four Feature Friday mail. It’s a straightforward idea that features four brilliant things I”ve found that week.
As long as it’s music relevant, it could wind up in the e-mail. Brand new tracks, techniques, products, reviews – nearly anything at all.
Enrol in the 4 Feature Friday email list, by pressing below.
Read the next post in this series: