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Discipline
A total lack of...
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (3 votes) 
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leftyuk
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August 31, 2015 - 11:36 am
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So, my first few months (and of course still ongoing) was in getting to grips with the physicality and mechanics of holding, positioning, fingering and bowing a few notes. I found this was not easy, certainly very little reward at first for a lot of effort, but I guess a 'right of passage' we all go through.

Then as progress progresses, a few basic tunes and perhaps a scale or two are scratched and sqeaked and I'm up n runnin! 

By now I'm hooked and hungry for tunes to learn! Before long I have 20+ tunes on the go, none of which I can play cleanly or with any real musicality, so I pause for a think and realise the learning curve will be less steep if I had some self discipline and worked on basic technicalities like scales, arpeggio's, bowing techniques, fingering excersises, double stops, intonation etc etc....

So with every good intention I tell myself 'Right! One hour of scales, now!' And five minutes in I have a butterfly moment and I'm off on a widdle diddle moo moo, Typically I find myself half way through a scale which suddenly turns into the tubular bells melody which runs into allman brothers jessica melody which morphs into parisienne walkways via bach's cello suite, take5 and drunken sailor...

Not one played through or well or in the right key and my 'practice time' has achieved virtually nothing.

Then I find Fiddlerman and ooo a vid on vib! Ooo wait a vid on scales! Ooo look a vid on bowing..... Waaaaaah!!!! I'm a kid in a sweet shop and I am spending 10 mins here, 10 mins there, again not exactly 'learning' anything, but loving the vids! It's like starving for a month then being shown a banquet and I am tasting a bit here, a bit there, running round the table like my life depends on trying a bit of everything inside a ten minute window! Sighhhhhhh

And what do I do???? Obviously I go to youtube, click on a random playlist and try to jam along!!!!!!! And failing miserably!  Lololol

All this is doing is slowing progress. 

How do you guys schedule practice? How do you stick with an excersise? 

Seriously, I am now sitting here wondering about the tubular bells bass line on the violin...

aghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

And the wind takes your hesitation, and the sun burns your fear, and the rain on your face, make the tears disappear..

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Fidelestre
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September 1, 2015 - 6:21 am
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Hi Leftyuk,

Well, I've never set out to do an hour of scales at a time. Though the idea of scales morphing into a medley of great tunes sounds fun - maybe you should just let it happen!

Right now I can't play in very many different scales, so I start out with a couple of A scales and then do other scales right before I play pieces in those keys. Likewise for arpeggios.

For some things, I use pieces that I can play without thinking. Not that they necessarily sound great, but they are pieces that I know well by memory and can play without having to wonder what comes next- so for me, that is something like Twinkle or Lightly Row. In this way, I can focus on things like bow hold or wrist motion or keeping shoulder motion to a minimum.

Other exercises I do are short, and I do them right before I practices pieces that use the particular techniques I'm working on. For example, I'm working to get more comfortable with using 4th finger as well as 3rd finger high and 2nd finger low. I use short finger exercises and in some cases also specific short pieces that exercise that finger position. For example, the Aura Lee opening for 4th finger, Hot Cross Buns for 3rd finger high, and Scarborough Fair for 2nd finger low.

So I end up interspersing my scales and other exercises with playing actual pieces, and the order in which I play pieces is determined by which new techniques the piece uses. This is kind of how the Suzuki book does it, and I follow the same practice with other non-Suzuki pieces I work on.

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Jim Dunleavy
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September 1, 2015 - 7:41 am
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Discipline is a problem for me as well!

My approach is to make a 'practice list' and have it on my stand when I practice. It has warm ups first, then essential technique practice (like bowing open strings, left hand finger exercises, vibrato movement etc) and I'm not allowed to move on to anything else until I've done them all, even if it's just for a minute or two each. Then I can start on the fun stuff.

I wouldn't be able to do an hour of nothing but scales - I'd lose the will to live! Better little and often for me.

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damfino
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September 1, 2015 - 11:38 am
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I was home schooled through middle school and high school. The format the school program encouraged was doing what interested you that day, and that has stuck with me. 
 

I have the pages marked that I'm currently working on in my book (I'm going through Essential Elements) and make sure I go through them during my practice, and then I get distracted and start doing other things, playing a different song, or different notes, skipping ahead in my book, etc. As long as I put some effort into what is my current homework from my teacher, then I feel free to skip ahead (my teacher encourages it, which is nice).

For example, last week my homework was working on scales on the G-string, and working on 3 songs. I did those things, and skipped ahead in the book and played scales on the E-string (which I've been playing around with since I started out anyway) played around working on the natural notes on the strings, a few extra songs, and another song I downloaded off the internet. (I didn't realize how all over the place I was last week until I typed it out, lol.)
 
So, I have a "list" of sorts (the dog-eared pages I'm focusing on that week) and then skip around as I get bored. I think it's a good thing, it keeps me going, and since my teacher encourages it, I guess it isn't a bad thing. 
 
So, make your list of things you think you need to work on improving, but skip around trying new things, too.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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coolpinkone
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September 5, 2015 - 1:46 pm
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I am so very very undisciplined.

I would be hard pressed to even say I spend 10-15 minutes a day on technique, and scales.

I do play 35 minutes to 1.5 hours a day... but I use the songs I am working on to "practice"... I know that is why my progress is at a stand still or snails pace...

So I do play a scale or two with my tuner.  I do some bow strokes.  Sometimes I practice a shift of vibrato... but it is  very very short.   I AM So very very undisciplined.facepalm

However I do play my songs with a tuner and I check.. I do record... I do NOW redo the parts that are out of tune.... I do work on my bowing wrist flexibility....

But over all I do need some sort of commitment plan to work through the Essentials books and fine tune my very very undisciplined playing.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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DanielB
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September 5, 2015 - 5:39 pm
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I don't think anyone ever thinks of themselves as being good with the discipline stuff. 

Sticking with bowing exercises or scales or whatever always seems like such a drag when so many fun songs and pieces are beckoning.  LOL

What I found that worked for me over the years (on other instruments) is to think of practice and playing as two separate activities.  Practice is the bowing exercises and scales and arpeggios (or whatever one currently has on the list), and playing is any actual songs, pieces, jamming to backing tracks or songs on youtube, etc.

That's how I have learned to think of it anyway.  I have a certain amount of "work" (practice) that I plan for a given day, and I don't play songs or etc until it is done.  So I "work", and then I "play".  If time is going to be short because the schedule for the day is busy, then I reduce both proportionately.  It doesn't work to just cut the "play" time, since that is what we're doing this whole music thing for.  LOL

For me it is logical to think of "work"/practice as what I do to improve my playing.  So it isn't too hard to do a bit of it first, and then when I decide "work" on the instrument is done for the day, to go to "play" or "free time" where I play (or at least try) anything I like, and see if maybe I can see some results from the day's "work"/practice.

One of my guitar teachers used to say that practising a song can improve how you play that song.  But practising scales and techniques improve how you play pretty much everything.

I'm not "disciplined" enough to play scales and etc all day.  I need my "playtime".  LOL  But I know from experience on other instruments (40 yrs next summer) what works for me, and so I carried it over to violin when I started on the instrument. 

Well.. Actually, I intentionally gave myself one year on violin with no focus on discipline and no "program" to follow.  I just played anything I could and didn't expect anything much from that time except to have fun and get to know the instrument and to find the players where their stuff inspires me to want to play.  A year to just "be a kid" on the instrument, before actually working at learning how to play it.  Time to get to know the sounds and feel and quirks of the instrument, and educate myself on what it *can* sound like when played by those who play it well.. and to develop the all important habit of picking up the violin every day.  For all the bad habits one may learn in the first year, that is one good habit that will count for more in the long run.  

Unless you're a kid, where your parent may decide some of your schedule, or taking classes in a school or college or something, most people just starting on an instrument don't have a time for it.  There just isn't a part of the day marked out as violin/fiddle time for most adult learners.  If you don't do something to establish it in your daily routine, then that pretty instrument will end up sold off or waiting in a closet somewhere for an eventual yard-sale or something.  I felt that taking a year to just goof around on violin and see if it was something I was likely to stick with, while establishing a steady minimum time for it in my daily routines was quite enough to expect out of the first year. LOL

I've been playing for over 3 yrs now, and I still don't feel that year was a waste of time or a poor use.  Not for me, personally, that is.  I had fun. made some friends, and got a better idea of what I want to do with the instrument.  Found out what learning resources (like this community) were available, learned the parts of the instrument and some about how it works and is put together and etc.

You know yourself, and if you are honest with yourself then you have a good idea of how much work vs how much fun it is going to take to keep you motivated.  My personal opinion is that trying to expect too much discipline from yourself without a good bit of fun stuff to balance it is a recipe for just another "slightly used violin" listing on Craigslist or ebay or whatever.

"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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MrYikes
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September 5, 2015 - 5:59 pm
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Good thoughts, Dan.

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leftyuk
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September 6, 2015 - 8:10 am
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@DanielB 

great reply and very similar to my beginnings, no expectation, just familiarisation and kind of working out if the violin was for me or not, messing around and getting an idea of the whole violin 'thing'.

A downside to the internet is that as a beginner, it is hard to determine between good and bad and wrong advice, there is so much out there, and of course so much to learn, it can be intimidating for the self learner.

I expect a lesson or three would be a very positive investment, and could literally save hours, week and months of anxst and/or concentrating on the wrong things.

Finding Fiddlerman has thus far been nothing less than inspirational for me, and I don't think I am alone in that summation! 

Big thanx again for all the replies! 

Now, time to chalk that cue..... 

And the wind takes your hesitation, and the sun burns your fear, and the rain on your face, make the tears disappear..

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coolpinkone
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September 10, 2015 - 5:52 pm
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@DanielB I loved reading your thoughts.  Makes a lot of sense to me.

I am usually pretty disciplined in life.... right now my life seems to be topsey turvey.  (not complaining)... just I notice my usual discipline for a lot of things is low... so no doubt it is the same for violin.

It used to be when I hit a lull or became stagnant, there were days of not playing the violin... now even when I am stagnant or a lull-ish... I still play.  I am lucky that the part of putting the violin time in my life has been sorted out.  I am lucky I don't watch tv much ...if at all and that I have room for violin.

When my life gets too social lately with going out.. I feel odd because I'd almost always rather be home with my violin and violin "talk" when it is available. 

I am at a bit of a lull right now... after some good perks in playing and a new violin.... I am happy to have some time tonight to myself to set up my studio and play violins and perhaps tonight I can come up with reasonable "practice" and learning sessions and goals.  🙂

Thanks again for the great post. 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Fiddlerman
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September 11, 2015 - 5:55 am
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"Social" is great Toni. We need balance. 🙂
Perhaps it aids you in appreciating playing more afterwards.

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

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damfino
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September 11, 2015 - 11:07 am
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I hear you, @coolpinkone I am not much of a social butterfly, but when I do go out, I kind of wish I were home playing the violin (or knitting, lol). 

Lately I've just been busy with work and then the past 2 weeks trying to split my time between dog sitting away from home and my own house and dogs (my mom takes care of my dogs while I watch my boss's dog... a little bit of a crazy system, but it works, lol). My boss and his wife live in an apartment, so any time I've had playing these 2 weeks has been with a mute, and I've been careful not to play past 8PM. I don't know the rules here about how late you can be noisy, but the majority of the building are retirees, so I try to be quiet as early as I can stand it, lol. At best I've been getting an hour of practice each day. So I feel like I've made little progress while there, though I am more comfortable doing scales with my fourth finger (which I have decided is a tiny little short thing that will never be able to keep a good curl to it and will have to play straight unless I work something out down the road, it's under 2"), but I haven't been practicing the natural notes like my teacher wanted me to because I feel I can't hear the notes properly with the mute, so I just gave up. 
 
I'll finally be home tomorrow, and am supposed to go to a party/picnic but would rather stay home with my dogs and my violin, and just may end up doing that, lol.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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BillyG
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September 11, 2015 - 1:24 pm
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@leftyuk - aye - "So with every good intention I tell myself 'Right! One hour of scales, now!' And five minutes in I have a butterfly moment and I'm off on a widdle diddle moo moo, Typically I find myself half way through a scale which suddenly turns into the tubular bells melody which runs into allman brothers jessica melody which morphs into parisienne walkways via bach's cello suite, take5 and drunken sailor..."

I know ALL about that ! LOL ...  "My bonny lies over the ocean, my bonny lies over the sea...dum de dum..." and suddenly its "yes we have no bananas, we have no bananas today.."

Frankly, I wouldn't worry about it  ( but do do the scales practise for while !!! ) then - it's all a learning thing - and I think that's part of the problem when you come from a different instrument, and, "amateur self-taught-musician or not" - you JUST WANT to play the tunes that come to your head.....  it's all good...  when I started playing fiddle, within a few weeks I had like 15 or 20 "tunes I was working on".... hahaha  - I think that's pretty normal for someone with an obsession !!!!

I'm making light of this, but what @DanielB says is very pertinent - 

Quote from Dan: Well.. Actually, I intentionally gave myself one year on violin with no focus on discipline and no "program" to follow.  I just played anything I could and didn't expect anything much from that time except to have fun and get to know the instrument and to find the players where their stuff inspires me to want to play.  A year to just "be a kid" on the instrument, before actually working at learning how to play it.  Time to get to know the sounds and feel and quirks of the instrument, and educate myself on what it *can* sound like when played by those who play it well.. and to develop the all important habit of picking up the violin every day.  For all the bad habits one may learn in the first year, that is one good habit that will count for more in the long run.  

100% agreed on that, Daniel - not for everyone of course, but I rather think we're talking to like-minded folks here....  nicely put....

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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coolpinkone
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September 11, 2015 - 9:42 pm
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@damfino very cool that  you can still practice. 

I can't not for the life of me find my rubber mute.. it's driving me crazy.

I like socializing.. and I can be that  person....

But I just love the violin and my dog too.  My dog is Dexter and he has taken to harrassing me the whole time I  play... bark bark.. makes me kind of mad. Often I put him outside... I thought it might be hurting his ears...but it is not.. it is just a game he is doing..... and I am kind of annoyed... He used to lay at my feet??? what happened....???

On the subject of discipline... I took out the Essentials book and played EVERY single page to page 34 today.. worked on bowing, and tempo and site reading.. probably for over an hour... it was   good to see what I have to work on.

Vibrato made a strange debut today while playing... it was a glimpse of something good.... but I am not holding my breath.. 🙂

@Fiddlerman  so true...social is good... and needed...balance... you are right.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Reptile Smile
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September 12, 2015 - 8:51 am
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See, I 100% embrace my inner noodler.

Like Billy G, I started out on guitar.  Most guitarists I know, actually, are self-taught.  I remember reading an interview with someone - can't remember who, might have been someone like Nuno Bettencourt or someone, and he said he didn't remember ever practicing as a kid, but that he played it all the time, he played it non-stop and couldn't get it out of his hands.  But it wasn't practice.  He just couldn't get enough of playing it.

That rings really true for me.  Right now, my fiddle is on a stand on my desk right next to my computer screen so that I can grab it and play it whenever I want.  That's the way that I avoid it being shut away in a case, and not being played enough - to make it accessible.  I play it because I enjoy playing it.  My job is to make the most of that process, as I see it...

PS My rubber mute arrived from China yesterday after a wait of 2.5 months. It cost 99p, but there's a day's wait for every penny...

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