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How long to practice as a new older person
A little difficult to practice for a length of time. age ? or beginner ? or both ?
Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 Topic Rating: 4.9 (10 votes) 
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stephie
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June 19, 2015 - 10:20 am
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This is my second topic and just 3 days into my practicing.

I notice that when i play for more than 20-25 minutes, my bowing arm gets a little jittery, causing the bow to wander off a bit as i'm drawing (i believe the expression is).  I'm nice and parallel and the bow is stable  (give or take a few degrees, haha) for the first 20 minutes.

Is it because my arm is building up its strength in this new kind of exercise ?

I am also almost 63 years old so obviously my arm muscles probably get more tired than the typical young student ?

My gut feel tells me that this will improve and that when my bow wanders, i should stop for a while/day .. ? maybe that 20 minutes of decent bowing will turn into 25 minutes . then 30 ... then 60 .. whatever ?

------ I'm not taking 'real' lessons for now.. so i don't know what is expected for a new student.. young.. or old...

thanks again.

Stephen

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BillyG
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June 19, 2015 - 11:03 am
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Well, we're about the same age.   I don't experience that ( only been playing for somewhat over a year ), but to be fair, I still do a fair bit of manual work, lifting, sawing, hand mixing concrete etc with our ongoing house renovation, and I'm right handed, so that arm gets the heavy work in these jobs.  It's my darned back that suffers LOL).  

I suspect you are probably correct in your thoughts though.   I'm sure it will come through time.  

There is another possibility though - since you are "new" to this - are you unintentionally and unconsciously "stressed-out" and tensing your arm or shoulder muscles ?  You didn't mention if you "felt" it ( pain wise ) or not - not good if you feel pain - and if you do STOP - but the muscles will, before actual pain sets in, start to spasm, just through the continual load on them, especially if that "load" is through unintentional tensing...   try it...

I mean, there is almost no weight to speak of in the bow - like 50 - 60 grams - can you "air bow" with a pencil, or even the stick, for 20 minutes without the violin (just pretend you are Paganini - well - that's a bit extreme - but you know what I mean) 

...  just my thoughts  - LOL

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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stephie
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June 19, 2015 - 11:43 am
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Good points !. I think maybe that holding my arm out for that length of time requires my shoulder muscles to work more and maybe they weaken after time. I have no pain at all.. 

Maybe i should mix up some concrete ???? .. Or in my case, my wife's meat loaf. 

cheers from Montreal !

stephen

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BillyG
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June 19, 2015 - 11:47 am
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stephie said
...Maybe i should mix up some concrete ???? .. Or in my case, my wife's meat loaf. 

  Aha, another one with a sense of humor...  We like that here !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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sandylynn
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June 19, 2015 - 2:07 pm
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Sandy Lynn says:

In my research and in my experience, I have found this to be true;

five hours [+] - best - this is the minimum for a career violinist [my opinion]

two hours -  better than one & 1/2 hours

one & 1/2 hours - this is PERFECT FOR ME

one hour - this amount of time maintains my skill level

half an hour - I find that my skills are slip-sliding away....

twenty minutes - just finished tuning and rosin-ing up the bow

"I am working on ideas for improving skills and modifying accessories 

to make 'playing the violin' feasible for many more students like you & I"

says the 51 year old beginning violinist.  My partner in music is a couple of

days older and we are determined to make her SHINE brightly on the stage.

She has been a professional singer and musician for a Las Vegas Act with A

Symphony for over 20+ years.

Cheers!

Sandy Lynn

 

P.S   How do I post a picture within this post?

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BillyG
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June 19, 2015 - 2:35 pm
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Look at the foot of your post (before you post it!) for the "attachments" button...

( oh - well - yes - thinking about it - there MAY just be a limitation if you haven't posted much - and 17 posts ain't a "lot" LOL -  but welcome, if I have missed saying hello to you !!!!   Some things get "enabled" so to speak once you are a regular contributor or whatever - and since you have only recently started posting - that MAY just be why you cannot post attachments - just guessing - I cannot tell you for sure - but it may be something like that.) - as I say - just a guess....

EDIT: OK - to my understanding - if someone is a new member or infrequent poster that was a reply to @sandylynn in case you did not get notified by email / etc ...  sorry - I didn't make that clear - lol forum posts can get a bit out-of-hand once we have multiple posters on a thread, and especially with new (or infrequent posting) members....  No problem...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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DanielB
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June 19, 2015 - 5:50 pm
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Welcome to the madness that is violin, stephie.

Yes, most people do need a bit of time to "muscle up" in the wrists and hands.  It doesn't usually take long, though.  But even if you have strong hands and etc, the motions of playing are different than what your hands/arms/neck/shoulders/back will usually be used to. 

But if you start getting sore at all, back off a little and let your body get used to this stuff.  It is easier than people think (at any age) to get a bit of tendonitis or be over-extending a joint without really noticing it when you're concentrating on playing.  If you don't listen when your body gives you the warning signs, you can end up not being able to play for a few weeks, and that would suck.

Better at first to practice for shorter periods and work up to longer sessions than it is to risk injury or burn out from expecting too much from yourself at once.

Another thing to remember is that you do not have to do all of your practice/playing at once.  If 15 min now and 20 min later and a few min after that works out for you, that can be good.

I'm 54 yrs old and have been playing violin for 3 yrs.  I've been playing guitar for more than 10 times as long, though. 

What I find works well for me is an hour of what I think of as actual practice.  Meaning an hour of the stuff most folks find less fun at first like scales and exercises.  But then I play as much as I feel like for the rest of the day, whenever I like. 

An hour on an instrument all in one session might be too long when first starting out though, since you do need to let your fingers, hands and body get used to the activity and you will likely be using at least a few muscles you usually don't.  So at first, just try to make some time for that stuff.  Yes, it can feel like a bit of a chore, but scales and exercises are the quickest way to improve your overall playing.  At least as part of a "balanced diet".

Oh, and it really helps if you stretch and warm up your muscles a bit before playing.  Even 5 minutes of that before playing on any instrument, I have found to be time well spent.

Mostly though, let yourself be like a kid with a new toy.  Pick up the violin whenever you have a chance to play even just for a couple minutes, as often as you can.  Might be just one quick run through a verse of a song you just remembered or trying to do one "trick" you noticed when watching some more accomplished player on youtube or whatever.

Keep it fun.  Let yourself feel excited.  Dream.  Laugh when you goof up and just try again.  Make a game out of seeing what little thing you can do even a tiny bit better today.  This isn't a job, it is a love affair.  If you let it get to feeling like just a chore, and you can't feel the fun/joy anymore, and you can't get it back, then it is all over.

Ok, I'll get off the soapbox now.. LOL

hats_off

"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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1stimestar
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June 21, 2015 - 8:03 am
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As an only parent with one full time job and a couple of side businesses I don't get an hour a day.  I get my practicing in 10-15 minute increments throughout the day for the most part.  Sometimes I get over an hour in at a time on the weekends but I live in Alaska and there are so many fun things to do on the weekends, especially in the summer, that I sometimes go for weeks with playing 15 minutes here and there through out the day.  Since I am making progress, I'm happy with it. 

 

Opportunity is often missed because it wears suspenders and looks like hard work.

 

Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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pky
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June 21, 2015 - 1:05 pm
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sandylynn said
Sandy Lynn says:

In my research and in my experience, I have found this to be true;

five hours [+] - best - this is the minimum for a career violinist [my opinion]

two hours -  better than one & 1/2 hours

one & 1/2 hours - this is PERFECT FOR ME

one hour - this amount of time maintains my skill level

half an hour - I find that my skills are slip-sliding away....

twenty minutes - just finished tuning and rosin-ing up the bow

I like your chart:) but I don't count tuning and rosin bow as practice time. To me, if I want to make progress, I need to spend 30 minutes on techniques and 30 minutes on the piece of music I am working on. However, I only practice 30 to 45 minutes each day:(

@stephie,

it depends on how much you use your arms. If  your arms get tired after 20 minutes, stop and rest. If you want to practice more, do it after your rest. you do't have to practice an hour straight, you can break it down to several times a day, the result could be even better than you practice straight for an hour. My best experience with practice is when I practiced twice a day and 30 minutes each.

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Schaick
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June 22, 2015 - 7:55 am
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LOL!! @sandylynn "twenty minutes - just finished tuning and rosin-ing up the bow" Too funny!!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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Jim Dunleavy
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June 22, 2015 - 8:20 am
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I'm a similar age to you (the OP) and have been teaching myself for just over a year.

I practice between 30 minutes and an hour in the morning (concentrating mainly on technique), and if I have the time in the evening I play for however long I feel like it (sometimes as much as another hour).

I don't get tired arms, but then I'm used to holding up a flute for hours at a time.

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Fiddlerman
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June 22, 2015 - 9:39 am
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stephie, as with everything physical, start slow and carefully. As Pky mentioned, if your bow arm hurts or is tired, stop and rest.
Perhaps for you (different for every individual, age, experience) 10 minutes 3, 4, 5 times a day would be a great way to start. Or perhaps you could focus on something different for a part of your practice schedule such as learning your left hand finger placement and notes. 🙂
I have experienced beginners who are older by up to 20 years still successfully work up the ability to play for hours on end without a problem. They do not however do it overnight and everyone must proceed with caution not to develop bad habits that create negative excess tension. Analyze your holding, posture, grips on both hands, jaw, shoulder and make sure you are as relaxed as possible. The only tensions necessary are the ones that actually bring the finger down to the fingerboard, just enough to touch and not more, and the bow hair on the strings in which a lot of that is in the weight of the bow. To achieve that extra pressure you turn your hand inwards towards the strings as your arm is heavy enough as it is. 🙂 Releasing bow pressure is more difficult in which you use your pinky to lift the bow and must support your arms weight.

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

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Fiddlerman
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June 22, 2015 - 9:39 am
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stephie, as with everything physical, start slow and carefully. As Pky mentioned, if your bow arm hurts or is tired, stop and rest.
Perhaps for you (different for every individual, age, experience) 10 minutes 3, 4, 5 times a day would be a great way to start. Or perhaps you could focus on something different for a part of your practice schedule such as learning your left hand finger placement and notes. 🙂
I have experienced beginners who are older by up to 20 years still successfully work up the ability to play for hours on end without a problem. They do not however do it overnight and everyone must proceed with caution not to develop bad habits that create negative excess tension. Analyze your holding, posture, grips on both hands, jaw, shoulder and make sure you are as relaxed as possible. The only tensions necessary are the ones that actually bring the finger down to the fingerboard, just enough to touch and not more, and the bow hair on the strings in which a lot of that is in the weight of the bow. To achieve that extra pressure you turn your hand inwards towards the strings as your arm is heavy enough as it is. 🙂 Releasing bow pressure is more difficult in which you use your pinky to lift the bow and must support your arms weight.

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

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sandylynn
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June 22, 2015 - 11:34 am
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I do remember the sore muscles and....so I wanted to say, I experienced this, but after twelve months, I have forgotten.   Perhaps, it is like child-birth; we quickly forget what we would like not to remember.  The smile on our child's face, the beautiful song on the violin, they all make us forget....labor pains.

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coolpinkone
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I have to say I remember the beginning pains of practice....

I have never felt those initial pains again.. I do know that in the first three months of playing I doubted that I 'd ever be able to play for over an hour.  I have rarely been sore.

Flash forward to yesterday... I practiced over three hours... Even broke it up in to 20 -30 minute segments.. open bowing, pinky work, and some vibrato... and new music.... and I have to say...today..

I AM FEELING IT in my neck, shoulders and everywhere... actually I am feeling it as a banner of cool pain today. 🙂

violin-1267play on ... play on... play on.. 

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Fiddlerman
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June 24, 2015 - 8:03 am
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Cool pain 🙂 I like that term.

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

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stephie
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June 25, 2015 - 12:22 pm
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coolpinkone said

 and some vibrato... 

I AM FEELING IT in my neck, shoulders and everywhere... actually I am feeling it as a banner of cool pain today. 🙂

violin-1267play on ... play on... play on.. 

i checked out various videos on vibrato.. only my first week on the violin.. but wow. my body won't listen to my brain. I can get the rocking back and forth of the finger but as soon as my thumb touches the instrument, the finger locks up.. i guess this is why vibrating takes a long time. maybe i can buy some device to do this automatically ? maybe my wife can lend .... (i know where some of your minds are headed  here) me her tablet so that i can research if there is a device.

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coolpinkone
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June 25, 2015 - 12:56 pm
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I have had assistance with someone holding my hand a little while trying the vibrato.. that was in the days of supreme death grip so it was all for nothing.

I took an online class on Teaching the violin and the teacher sometimes helped the child "wiggle" their finger a bit.

I can do vibrato without bowing... (kind of).. I get perplexed when I get the bow involved... 

regardless there is relaxing and some vibrating happening here and there.. but not near where I want ... I have officially become frustrated with it again... time is ticking and I am not seeing the progress that I thought.

I think I watched TOO many videos and got tOO much input....

But I am still a Vibrato desperato... 🙂dancing and I am  stubborn as hell.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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cdennyb
King for a Day, Peasant for many
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I think all of us "players" over 50 should get a badge! dazed

Nobody in the prime of life would torture ourselves like we do. facepalm

"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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Fiddlerman
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July 5, 2015 - 4:19 pm
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LOL Dennis. Very true.

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

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