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Planning a practice schedule
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (4 votes) 
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mushroom_ff
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May 27, 2013 - 9:24 pm
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So, now that I'm starting into my 5-6 month of learning the violin, I am eager to keep going, but need a bit of help picking out things to work on in my practice sessions.

I spent the first couple of months getting the fingering down and trying to keep a steady bowing arm. I'm slowly getting it down, and hoping to improve it.

Now I just need to try and include some practice techniques or exercises to help get more out of them. For the last little bit, my practices have been just picking out songs and playing the songs I can play. It's funamuse, but I know I need to get down and reinforce the basics.

Any suggestions or ideas on what to include in daily practices and what I need to focus on as a beginner would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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cdennyb
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May 27, 2013 - 9:37 pm
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Everyone would agree that an exercise that keeps you interested is probably worth while. I like to pick out some tunes I like to play and therein is the "exercise" for me. If you plan on a career in the fiddle world a good teacher is in order. If on the other hand, you plan on no plan at all and only want to play "for yourself", then instant gratification is in order and that means jamming with a few friends or making recordings of yourself and playing along, improving daily. Trying to keep a set practice schedule will be dang near impossible if you're like most of us on the board here, we work, have families, have kids (oh my!) and have a ton of stuff that just gets in the way.

Continue on and enjoy what you do, and after a year, if you're still interested and dedicated, then you can get down to basics if you then have a "plan"

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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StoneDog
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May 27, 2013 - 9:46 pm
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SCALEs

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Picklefish
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May 27, 2013 - 10:06 pm
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Every practice session IMO;

A checklist

Posture- readress your posture and make sure its right and working for  you. Dont be afraid to experiment until you find what works for you, nothing is set in stone.

Intonation- playing in tune, repeatedly. Learning to hear if the note is off and learn to correct it. 12 maj scales, pick  a different one each day and study the relationship of the notes to each other. How do you finger a flat differently than a sharp or natural. Learn these things to the point your fingers do them automatically.

Rythym- Play all the note possibilities for each scale daily. After you learn what is in tune and how to be consistent and accurate speed it up. Youve got whole notes to 32nd note 1,2,3 octave runs to learn and be in tune. youve got rythmic patterns like triplets and accented notes. I recommend a book like First Etude Album for Violin by Hal Leonard.

Bowing- this goes hand in hand with rythym except I handle bowing itself as a separate drill from learning notes and rythyms. For me a bowing drill focuses on bow length and the length used to play the notes and not specifically the notes themselves. for instance you can use a whole bow length to play whole notes and half notes, a half bow length to play quarter notes, and a quarter bow length to play faster notes. You also want to play with the bow in the various sections for each note for instance you have a upper and lower half bow length. Play quarter notes in each section to get used to playing in the upper bow and its difference in relation to the lower half. The Bow can be divided into thirds, fourths etc, play your notes in each section.

Dynamics- How do you know if you are playing loud or soft? Everyday play a piece as loud as possible, then as soft as you can while maintaining even pressure on the strings. Your tendancy to play soft will be to lift the bow, not good. You need even pressure along the length of the bow. Once youve played soft and loud practice switching between the two ala crescendo and decrescendo.

That should keep you busy for a while. PM me if you have any questions. pfish.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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coolpinkone
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May 28, 2013 - 2:00 am
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Wow...Rob... Awesome!  

Aye aye captain... I might have to actually learn a few of the things you mentioned... But I like this model and the idea of this. would this practice schedule be every day if possible?   Also when would allot for the " just playing time"... Or is that all bonus playing... How long would you recommend the practice?  Thank you.  You Rock!

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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mushroom_ff
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May 28, 2013 - 12:48 pm
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Thanks for the great advice guys.clap This helps a lot.

I'm mostly learning to play just for myself and for family and friends. Possibly at my church once I get a little better. I'm been enjoying just playing around and picking out some tunes.

I know I need to work on my bowing and intonation, so I'll start finding working a bit of that into my practices. Summer tends to be a bit slower for me, so it'll be a bit easier to find time.

Thanks again!

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coolpinkone
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May 28, 2013 - 8:16 pm
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@Picklefish 

by the light of day your list for practice is daunting for me...  I am going to make a serious lesson plan and try to include some of your tips... I might run it by you as long as you promise not to call me a slacker!! :)

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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StoneDog
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May 28, 2013 - 9:20 pm
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pfish said
Intonation- playing in tune, repeatedly. Learning to hear if the note is off and learn to correct it. 12 maj scales, pick  a different one each day and study the relationship of the notes to each other. How do you finger a flat differently than a sharp or natural. Learn these things to the point your fingers do them automatically.

SWEET!!! and once you know the 12 you actually know 24 > thats a lot to ROCK with.

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Picklefish
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May 28, 2013 - 9:38 pm
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that is a monster list, could take someone 2 hours to compete if they went through and ticked off each item daily. Fact is I dont everyday. What I recommend is to use that list as a guide. When you practice you can incorporate multiple items on the list at one time. But you must be able to self evaluate.

I use the Suzuki book, the My first etudes book and beginners book of scales. I keep everything in the same key, that is if the song in Suzuki is in the key of A, I then work on scales and etudes in the same key. This makes all the training consistent.

In learning a particular song we start with the notes, so I recommend thats what you do, learn what all the notes are, how to finger them and how to play each note perfectly before combining them. Combining them simply means doing all those previous things in series and gradually increasing speed while maintaining perfection.

After that you learn the bowings. These are the up bows and down bows, slurs etc.

After that you learn the dynamics, crescendo etc...

That is the simplified process of how I learn a tune. The tune is made up of scales, arpeggios, thirds, fourths etc. This is also the structure of the scales and etudes books only more random. This trains the brain to be more forward thinking and less reactionary.

Of course the more I learn the more my process is modified and adapted to what seems to work best for me. I encourage you to do the same. Now if only I could get the danged Vibrato to work for me!

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Picklefish
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May 28, 2013 - 9:45 pm
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coolpinkone said
Wow...Rob... Awesome!  

Aye aye captain... I might have to actually learn a few of the things you mentioned... But I like this model and the idea of this. would this practice schedule be every day if possible?   Also when would allot for the " just playing time"... Or is that all bonus playing... How long would you recommend the practice?  Thank you.  You Rock!

Consider the aspiring professional violinist can devote upwards of 4 hours to this process. (if not longer)

Really you need to use your self evaluation technique to see what areas are weak and work on those. It may be a long list so you pick one or two areas to improve and work on just those. Then add more as you progress. The fun of this is the self exploration and mini goal achievements. Remember, we all enjoy the things we do well. Mini goals that work towards a larger goal makes it easier and more enjoyable.

Any of the practice areas can be used during your just playing time. Learn where you are lacking and practice to improve. you will enjoy your just playing time more. I think if its focused practice 30 min a day would be the minimum I would devote, however that doesnt necessarily need to be all at one time. The goal is to focus on what needs improvement and dont waste time unimproving. If that makes any sense.

You're welcome.

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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coolpinkone
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May 28, 2013 - 11:06 pm
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It all makes sense to me Rob.

I have been just playing.... all play and  not a lot of work.  I mean I take a minute to learn something..or a new song..but I am not taking to time to continue with basics and I KNOW KNOW that this is necessary.  The reason I know is that the very first songs that I ever learned ( and stick with for warm ups..) they are very good and not prone to issues... basic songs... basic bowing... and a lot of repetition...

Even my scales are suffering right now... of course without my tapes, they sound uggy.

I think I also need to do like FM does..and put my thumb in the curve and leave  it there.. I think this is going to ultimately help me find my way.

I play everyday for way more than 30 minutes now..but often in the evening after work and I want to play and not learn...so I have some changing to do if I want to get to my goal.

Thanks again Bud.

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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coolpinkone
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May 28, 2013 - 11:11 pm
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@mushroom_ff  I forgot to add... I was at that same spot at 5-6 months..and I am here again at 16 months...Good luck.. it seems we both know what to do.  I had a plan a few months ago.. It had Cello practice in there somewhere... so I need to redesign my practice schedule and stick to it.

For instance.. I say scales.. but how many do I really know... I can't always just play CM, DM and GM.. I need to move on and learn some others...

And I need to quit looking at my fingers all the time...and I need to read music  faster.  I know how I learned to read music... now I need to do more of that to reinforce and build that skill.

Good luck..keep on trucking.. post about your new routine if you feel like it... I love to hear what folks are doing.

:)

Cheers,

Toni

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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