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ftufc
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May 13, 2012 - 2:08 am
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Okay, I'm really not drunk-Foruming again; this just must be a fertile time of night for me!

Last week was an odd week for me as far a practice goes; week after week I normally enjoy about 7hrs of practice, but last week, and this, I only found time to practice about 3hrs each, and each week, my practice time was on a Sunday and Monday.  Then nothing for 5 days.

The experience I had last week was, after not touching my violin for 5 days, being asked to play a few songs for my visiting in-laws..... I sucked,,,, even more than normal.  I couldn't find the right note to save my life, but I muddled through.  In my last lesson, again, not having touched my violin for 5 days, I was a hack and I felt like I was wasting my teacher's valuable time.

When he saw how pissed off I was at myself he made the comment, "you know what Jascha Heifetz would tell people; "if I don't play for a day I can tell the difference, if don't play for two days the critics can tell the difference, and if I don't play for three days the audience can tell the difference."

Then I thought, holy crap, if this master is negatively impacted by just three days off, how can I ever expect to play at even a reasonable level unless I practice every day of my life, for the rest of my life.

Is this the reality of being a violinist/fiddler.  I mean, I LOVE practicing, but JC, can we not expect to play at a decent competency unless we're willing to practice every day.  What about you folks who've just picked up your violin again, after years of non-use; are you starting from scratch.

FM, just as an example, what happens to your level of play if you don't play for a week?  or does that never happen?  Just wondering....

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TerryT
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May 13, 2012 - 5:30 am
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Hey Fred,
The better you are, the less you lose due to time off.

You used to be a fighter. When you were learning, a big time gap between sessions and it's almost like starting again each class.
When you got good (I'm assuming you did , lol) a gap just meant you lost a little sharpness and fitness.

Maybe it's the same on the old fiddle.

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

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Fiddlestix
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May 13, 2012 - 6:49 am
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It's like anything else, Fred, if you don't practice you can't expect much as an end result. I guess i'm different in the fact that i'm retired and have plenty of time for practice. I'm going to call your practice habit's "cramming". "Well, I practice 7 hour's a week, why can't I play for my teacher.?" Here's what I suggest, it work's for me. When you start playing a new song, play the first few bars over and over. When you feel comfortable with the first part, start playing the second section of bar's until you play them well, then start from the beginning and play both sections.

If you try playing the whole song to begin with you'll forget the first part.  Am I making sense ? 

When I practice a new song I play it that way. But you need to find / make the time to practice.  What if you had a son or daughter whom you were paying for lesson's for, what would you do in that case. "Listen ya little bastard, you're going to practice, i'm not paying for lesson's for you not to".  You tend to forget what you don't do much of.

Get my drift ?    violin-student

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NoirVelours
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May 13, 2012 - 7:27 am
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Haha Fiddlestix! I sure understand the paying lessons for kids. Ftufc, I can't answer your question because I missed I think 2 days of my 30 min to 1 hour daily practice. But, ask yourself, what caused you to miss that practice today? Were you too tired, busy with something else etc. Remember that even 15-30 min of good practice is better then a full hour of fiddling with stuff that doesn't help you get better that much!

Some on the forum said that playing violin is relaxing for them, helping them to get rid of the workday stress (for it's just fun!). Is playing violin doing something positive to you also? You might find the motivation to practice daily with what your fiddle brings you!

When I started (lol 5 weeks ago) playing was very tireing and after 20-30 min I had enough. Now I probably built up some stamina, sometimes I can go on for a full hour before having to stop and rest. What I wanna say with this is that, it's more fun to play when it's not tireing hehe.violin_girl

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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Fiddlerman
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May 13, 2012 - 8:34 am
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The Jascha Heifetz thing, if it is really him that said it, is something that people say all the time. I've heard that said by many but don't take it too seriously. I would always take 5 weeks off every summer and most of my paid vacations in Sweden, without touching the violin and usually it didn't feel as though I had taken that time off. Of course you need to loosen up and warm up but you don't have to play every day.

I have a friend that was an incredible violinist at the Music School at U of M when I was going there, but he gave up the violin for business and selling software with his incredible violinist brother.
He is still one of my best friends and I have constant contact with him on a regular basis. He hadn't touched his violin for over 25 years and just picked it up the other day to play as a surprise for his daughter at her quince. He played me a recording of himself playing what he will be playing for her and I couldn't believe it.
Don't take what others say about not practicing too seriously. If you work hard, all will not be forgotten and in vain. I guarantee it. Just try to find the right mind frame every time you pick up the violin. 🙂

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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DanielB
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May 13, 2012 - 9:01 am
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I haven't been playing violin long enough yet to speak definitively on how much practice it takes.  I am still enjoying the "newbie fever" where the instrument calls to me often, and I sometimes spend more time on it than is really sensible.

But from other instruments, I can say that yes, 5 days off and then going in cold you are likely to be a bit disappointed in your playing.  If you had taken maybe 5 min shortly before playing to run a few scales and go over some of the tricky bits, just to warm up and reacquaint your fingers with the instrument and I think you probably would have been happier with the result.  When you can't manage a little time to warm up, then starting with things that are dead easy from your repertoire can help.  Right after an easy piece, a more challenging one will go better. 

I don't think we ever go back to "square one" with an instrument, though.  Every bit that you learn is a bit more skill that you earned, and it takes less long to "shake off the dust" than it did to learn it in the first place.  With any instrument, there is a point where even if you were to set it aside for a year or more, you could still pick it up and play at least easy pieces well enough that to an average non-musician you would sound like you know what you are doing.   However, whether you would be happy with your performance in that case would probably be another matter.

For me, progress is what gets hurt the most by taking several days off at a time.  If you want to see yourself steadily getting better, then a bit every day is about the quickest way to get there.   Personally, I can do even better on progress if I practice and play (two different activities for me, but they can be combined in a session) twice a day, for about 20 min in the morning and then again in the evening.  More than that, and I'm past the point of diminishing returns and playing just for the love of it or I may be "woodshedding" a piece.  Which is not bad, and I'll learn some things, of course.  But it won't steadily knock down the walls between me and where I want to be like one or two short daily sessions will.

I think it is the regularity that is important.  When I was taking "beginning adult piano", I didn't have a keyboard at home, so I only practiced on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  I improved, and over the course of a semester I learned to sight read for piano well enough to pass.  But that rate of progress felt slow compared to what I knew I could do.  When I took music theory and composition classes later, I had my own keyboard at home by then and played a bit every day.  I was happier with my progress and with the concepts in my head every day, I did better than just passing. 

To put all that in a nutshell, I feel that practicing a bit on MWF will do you better than practicing MTW and taking the rest of the week off.  Every day will get you results you like better, and maybe even twice a day, if you can manage it.  But a couple of days a week right together and taking the rest of the week off, about all I would manage with that is to not lose too much ground. 

Your mileage may vary, of course.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlestix
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May 13, 2012 - 10:12 am
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FM... The way I interperate what you told Fred, is that it's ok not to practice everyday and that it's ok to take time off from playing.

In your's and your friend's case at the University of Michigan, that's fine, you are accomplished violinist, it come's back to you very quickly.  For you, being able to pick up the violin after a period of time off is ok,,,, it's imprinted in your head and finger's. You're not just beginning, you know how to do it. On the other hand, you have Fred, after he (and that goes for any other beginner) learn's to play well he'll be able to refrain/take some time off, but I still think he should practice daily. Example: Marina, she said she hadn't played in 10 years and look at how she play's now.

I guess, Fred, you do whatever make's you comfortable. If I were teaching a student who didn't want to practice on a regular basis, who showed no improvement, i'd tell him/her, i'm wasting my time and your money, come back when you are serious about it. " I practiced last month, am I improving"?

Just my opinion, again.  Sorry.    frown

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omagor
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May 13, 2012 - 11:53 am
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I guess you have to practice and play for several years in order to acheive more proffesional level so you can afford skipping practice from time to time without having any major negative affect on your playing. On the other hand if you keep forcing yourself to practice you can gain the opposite effect of not liking the violin and almost rejecting it. I believe little breaks from practicing are even necessary from time to time. But you have to take into consideration the consequences that this break can take you few steps back as it happened in your case. Then you should decide what is more important at that moment.

From my experiece, I had several "crises" during 12 years, but eventually got back playing and practicing. But even if I had to work even harder because of the break, I felt I had more energy and patience than before the break.

Only you can decide what is best for you.

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cdennyb
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May 13, 2012 - 2:33 pm
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remember Fred, 15-20 mins a day is better than 2-3 solid hrs on Sunday.

30 min to an 1 hour a day is better than all day practice on Sunday. cheers

"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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springer
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May 13, 2012 - 3:51 pm
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I agree with Dennis and Terry, Fred, but I do not think you must practice every day. I do find that even if I only pick up my Violin for 5 min. a day it helps. As beginners we lose more if we take a short break, but we get back to where we left off quick enough.  Remember it is fun.cheers

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Mad_Wed
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Good point, Omagor. Sometimes i need time to rest from playing. Usually it happends by itself when i'm on work. =) Hard times come when i have an itch to play, but can't... And it reduces the result of the previous work very much.

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springer
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Btw Fred we did sign up for this.violin-student

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Fiddlerman
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May 13, 2012 - 10:38 pm
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Actually, I do believe that it is individual and much of how you progress has to do with the quality of your practice time. Remember that this should be fun as well as challenging. If Fred doesn't enjoy HAVING to play every single day it doesn't mean that he should give it up. A big baring in all this is how well one wants to be able to play and for what occasions. Do you want to play for yourself or for others?

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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cdennyb
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Fiddlerman said
Actually, I do believe that it is individual and much of how you progress has to do with the quality of your practice time. ...

...A big baring in all this is how well one wants to be able to play and for what occasions. Do you want to play for yourself or for others?

I have to agree FM, I have much lower expectations than all my fans out there do. LOL banana

"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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Oliver
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May 14, 2012 - 8:12 am
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In this thread lies the answer to a frequent question :

"Can I learn to play the violin ?"

Of course.  I think just about anyone can learn to play something on the (deified) violin in a relatively short time.

But what?  Where?  For whom ? 

And how about the "dues"?

(I once heard a wonderful teenage girl talent winner playing with a college community orchestra.  She played a major classical selection but I forget exactly.  A member of the orchestra later asked her how long she had been preparing the piece?   Her answer was "Seven months".  Her performance was great.  The violin takes no prisoners.)

fish

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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myguitarnow
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May 14, 2012 - 9:23 am
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Way too many words on threads for me to read....... I want to play violin on a stage and in the studio for original songs and to do that you need to practice many hours a day.   Fred it's tomorrow that your daughter is playing at the Rainbow right? I will be dressed all in black with a black vest and slicked back hair and my beautiful wife will be their. She is black with long hair. You won't miss us for sure. It's our job to stand out in a crowd.

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ftufc
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May 14, 2012 - 11:30 am
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I didn't get a chance yesterday (Mother's Day) to take a look at Forum; but just read all the terrific responses/feedback!

I clearly didn't mean to give the impression that I've lost interest AT ALL; I love practicing and it's thoroughly enjoyable to me; it's about the only time in a week that I get to spend just on me.

My point really was; because of work and family commitments, I could only muster 3 hrs each of the past two weeks, and was VERY surprised and disappointed in the affect it had on my playing; and then surprised to hear that yeah, if you don't practice, virtually, every day, everybody's skills slide noticeably.

As Terry, and others, said, it's especially noticeable with beginners, but I was very surprised to hear, from my teacher, that even pros' skills are affected; happy to hear that he may have been exaggerating a bit. I'd have to tell you Terry, you're exactly right when you're first learning to fight, but as your skills develop, as you well know, it all becomes instantaneous and instinctual,,, but, my violin hasn't YET tried to punch me in the face either,,, although it would have good cause,,, the way I mangle it, lmao.

This was ALL very good feedback, I appreciate it very much.  I am dying for the day that I can just nail my pitch, and bowing technique so that I can confidently play what I love to play [hey, maybe busking with Terry in London next Spring, lol].  I have NOT lost my drive or desire,,, it's not even waning, just got slammed with commitments and shocked at the result, lol.

Thanks Scott, yeah, tomorrow night; her gig starts at 10:30pm; looking forward to meeting you and your wife!  From your description I'm sure we'll recognize you.

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TerryT
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May 14, 2012 - 1:47 pm
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And here's me thinking that some people can't stay the course!

Haha, just jkg buddy as you will know

I was born with nothing,
and to my surprise I still have most of it left!

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springer
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If what FM said is not hitting the nail right on the head, I quit right now.red_cursing

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Fiddlerman
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May 14, 2012 - 9:21 pm
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Don't quit.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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