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Just Play...
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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Taper123
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April 29, 2015 - 11:00 pm
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A friend of mine is a very talented guitar player.  He always told me that I'd really start to learn when I just want to play, and don't care who is watching/listening to me.

I had to move to the evening shift at work do to some issues in life, and realized that after 7pm, no one is here but a handful of people.  Being a technician, when things are in operation and I am caught up on maintenance, I have lots of free time.  

Have only had a violin for maybe three months now.  Practicing in a big warehouse with 10 people passing by occasionally is a bit strange at first...  but the FM Concert can really make some nice sound in such a big area.   

Doing better at the etudes, and trying to learn "Irish Washerwoman" now.  

I think it's meant to be a compliment when co-workers tell me I'm starting to suck less now...  might not be quiet, or a structured area to practice in, yet somehow it works for me.

But to learn there is one simple thing to do... Just Play.

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DanielB
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Yeah, the biggest barrier to a beginner on any instrument isn't how much their gear cost, or their teacher or what book they use.

It is going to be how much time they actually spend on the instrument. 

Sure, one can get the dreaded "bad habits" that can take some effort to break later.  But if one is playing regularly, it is the most important good habit that makes the biggest difference in how good someone can get and how long it will take to get there.

Or at least such is my opinion.

"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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coolpinkone
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@DanielB  I agree... time playing is huge.  The first 9 months of violin.. sometimes (many times) I would have playing gaps of 5-8 days or more.  Sometimes I would only play  my weeks lesson the morning of my violin lesson.   I am not sure why my motivation was low, but I think I was thinking that was enough.  OH boy howdy... was I ever wrong.  Anyway.. something clicked around the first year and I played and play and now it would be a very rare day not to play for at least an hour. 

@Taper123 

I agree.. Just play... play often.. and enjoy. 

I think playing in a warehouse with people going by is just dang awesome!!! Yay for you!!! thumbs-up

I am getting better about playing in front of people.  I am still having camera shy issues.exactly

But I can play more comfortably....crossedfingers

"JUST PLAY"

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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DanielB
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April 30, 2015 - 6:10 pm
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It often takes a while for folks to actually learn how much of a difference practice/playing time makes.  Before that, we tend to confuse "understanding the lesson" with practising the lesson or think that somehow the teacher won't be able to tell we didn't actually practice. 

roflol

"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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StoneDog
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I agree > "Just Play" is the TICKET!!!!

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fiddlinsteudel
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Nice going, the more you put your fingers on that thing, the better you are going to get. And if you have tolerant workers, then even better. Just don't get fired for playing the violin. 🙂

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Fiddlestix
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DanielB said
It often takes a while for folks to actually learn how much of a difference practice/playing time makes.  Before that, we tend to confuse "understanding the lesson" with practising the lesson or think that somehow the teacher won't be able to tell we didn't actually practice. 

roflol

Good point, Dannyboy. I can remember when I was a kid of about 8 or 9 yo, my violin teachers, "Mrs. Kline", and "Mrs. Wandlace" knew when I hadn't practiced and they would sure let me know about it. Especially, Mrs. Kline.

Mrs. Kline was my orchestra teacher and Mrs. Wandlace was my private teacher and practicing 5/6 hours a day still shows in improvement.

Funny how we struggle, then all of a sudden one day we can hear how much we've improved and it's a joyous occasion. 

 

Ken.

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Taper123
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Fiddlestix said

Good point, Dannyboy. I can remember when I was a kid of about 8 or 9 yo, my violin teachers, "Mrs. Kline", and "Mrs. Wandlace" knew when I hadn't practiced and they would sure let me know about it. Especially, Mrs. Kline.

I went into my lesson today without having practiced much at all.  My instructor teaches a lot of younger kids, so she usually has a sticker book to offer them little rewards.   Before we started, I told her that I will probably get the sticker this week for best excuse not to have practiced.   She laughed and said "Let's hear it".   I had pulled a bunch of poison oak from my garden, and had my gloves off at one point... so my left hand had gotten it pretty bad.....  She understood with one glance.

Now that it's healed up... time to play 🙂

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Fiddlestix
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@Taper123: Did you know it was poison oak when you pulled it ?

A little story about poison plants.

In 1978 my 15 yr. old son and I went to, Nashville, TN for a weeks vacation. While down there we kinda self toured ourselves around. We stopped at "Johnny Cashs'" home and was standing in front looking at his home. His grounds keeper walked up to the fence and we chatted for a short time. While the grounds keeper was approaching he said, "looks like someone has poison ivy or oak. He was referring to my sons legs (he was wearing shorts). He got the poison ivy while walking through a field searching for his model airplane.

The stuff can be painful I guess, never having had it myself.

I hope you're free of it now.

Ken.

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EricBluegrassFiddle
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I agree....just playing is important, and daily...

But make sure it's focused play and also make sure you have some clear goals in your head as well. For instance, the style you want to learn, techniques, licks and songs.

Violin takes more patience and focus than other instruments, it's awkward to play, it's fickle, and it's demanding. I'm concerned that playing and practicing at the workplace is probably not a good idea in my opinion. There's going to be alot of distraction and you may be subconciously aware that others are around you, listening, and this could have an effect on your practice as well.

You really need (IMHO) a secluded place, free of disrtaction where you can really focus and listen without any exterior distraction. This way you'll be more concious to hearing things and maybe catching things that could end up being problematic down the road.

Eventually you might get to a point to where you can practice that way. However, in the beginning when you're trying to establish good form, posture, techniques and start that solid foundation to build upon...im my opinion I don't think it's a good idea. But, hey this is only me......just my opinion.

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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DanielB
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I would agree with Eric that at least some of one's practice time is best spent alone and without distractions.  When working on technique, form, scales, arpeggios, etc, I think that is when I make my best progress on such things.

But life doesn't always work that way, and if I only practised when I can have a nice level of seclusion and privacy, the amount of time I could practice each day would be much more limited.  My household tends to be a busy one. 

Maybe it depends on what sort of performance one eventually wants to do, but I feel that learning to keep enough focus to play even with distraction can also be important.  When my household is active, and people may walk through or be talking and etc is more challenging and not usually as relaxing as the nice quiet practice time where the instrument can be my whole world for a bit.  But it does rather simulate the environment of a club or party type of gig.  

Playing with people around (even a few of them) does tend to change what you will want to play.  When people can hear, I may run a scale once or twice quickly to limber up a little, but then I move into working on actual songs/pieces, because I know that scales and etc are pretty dull to listen to.  I make that work for me by practising the more "exercise" oriented things and first attempts on fresh material when I have some seclusion and low distraction, so those things get worked on every day.  Then when people are around and active, I think of it as working more on realistic performance. 

I think that if practising in slow times at work can get you some extra time with maybe even a small "captive audience", it could be really great as an addition, but it shouldn't completely replace spending some quiet time when you can put all your attention on practice without distraction.

"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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EricBluegrassFiddle
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1.) But life doesn't always work that way, and if I only practised when I can have a nice level of seclusion and privacy, the amount of time I could practice each day would be much more limited.  My household tends to be a busy one - I understand that, but do you have a garage or maybe even an outside area that you can get too at times? Or better yet, is their anyway to negotiate a compromise in your household with wife/kids where you can at least secure an hour or so in a room in the house with the door closed? I mean, this way maybwe they can step out for an hour or two and give you at least that time?

2.) Maybe it depends on what sort of performance one eventually wants to do, but I feel that learning to keep enough focus to play even with distraction can also be important.  When my household is active, and people may walk through or be talking and etc is more challenging and not usually as relaxing as the nice quiet practice time where the instrument can be my whole world for a bit.  But it does rather simulate the environment of a club or party type of gig - I disagree with you a little on this point. In the beginning, when your trying to establish a solid foundation of even the very basics, the last thing you want to do is to create any un-necessary challenges to that crucial stage of the learning process. Later on, down the road, when one HAS already established certain basic fundamentals and has some experience, then I can understand, but not in the very beginning. Even just the basics of bowing and intonation, learning the fiddle: it's pretty taxing from a cognitive standpoint for even the most attentive person and I think it would be pretty hard to make good progress out of it. Doable, I guess if you had no other choice, but sure could be making learning more difficult that necessary in my opinion. 

3.) Playing with people around (even a few of them) does tend to change what you will want to play.  When people can hear, I may run a scale once or twice quickly to limber up a little, but then I move into working on actual songs/pieces, because I know that scales and etc are pretty dull to listen to.  I make that work for me by practising the more "exercise" oriented things and first attempts on fresh material when I have some seclusion and low distraction, so those things get worked on every day.  Then when people are around and active, I think of it as working more on realistic performance - Well, in my case I have an agreement with my wife each day and I can go upstairs, shut the door and I know I won't be disturbed. Of course I have a 2 year old, so I know what you mean, avoiding any noise or distraction ( unless we have a studio maybe or basement etc... ) is completely unrealistic in every situation when we practice ....we live with other human beings! But in this particular situation, where the gentlemen was practicing at work, I was mainly referring to his specific mention about that and the fact that he's very much at the beginning of the whole process. You're farther along and maybe at a point where you can benefit from this type of practice. The fiddle is an instrument that requires more hand eye coordination, and also the use of tasking different aspects at once, more so than other instruments IMO. So, when it comes to building a foundation and really learning the instrument, we need to try and require as much focus, with the minimal amount of distraction necessary, is what I'm getting at. I think it's just so necessary with an instrument like the Violin. There's just too much going on, all at once and it's difficult as it is to try to isolate each aspect and work on each individually.

4.) I think that if practising in slow times at work can get you some extra time with maybe even a small "captive audience", it could be really great as an addition, but it shouldn't completely replace spending some quiet time when you can put all your attention on practice without distraction - Your last point here I totally agree with. I mean, if one can get some practice on a lunch break or something why not? But, I think they should go off somewhere alone. Now, as I mentioned, later on, with time and more experience...or let's say one is to the point of where they are going to have their first gig or maybe even jam session playing the fiddle? Then, in that case I see where what you've said IMO applies totally in a situation like that. But, if it's a real newbie who hasn't reached that point, if they practice at work, I think they should do it without folks around. The last thing you want to do is be trying to focus on some specific essential fiddling technique or excercise, while at the same time be aware ) or subconciously aware ) of others around you. In my case ( maybe it's because I'm ADHD!!! hahha ) this would be REALLY hard for me! I'd go bezerk and get frustrated! I just think it's putting the cart before the horse a bit IMHO.

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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DanielB
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No worries on my quiet practice time, Eric.  I usually get some every day while the rest of the household is asleep. 

I'll start out by saying, Eric, that I think maybe the difference in point of view on some things comes from being from different musical backgrounds.  Back when I first started getting "serious" about music (guitar), I'd been "tossed in the deep water".  I'd barely known a few chords and maybe one octave of a "blues" scale in one key, and went from sort of fumbling at playing once in a while and grumbling about how it wasn't sounding good to "getting broke in" by a small band, and suddenly having to memorize a lot of songs, figure out how to fit in, and "take some solos" whether I was any good or not.  In front of audiences.  LOL

Not big gigs, mind you, but a long way from sedately working on gradually learning my basics in a comfy practice room somewhere until I felt ready.  It was panic mode, sink or swim, step up and do it or quit, work your butt off in every spare moment you've got on your own just to try and not sound bad and feel like a complete idiot in front of people sort of environment.  I hated it at the time, for the first several weeks, but it was a great learning experience.

So you and I may have started from somewhat different places musically, and so we have different ideas of what is good and what could maybe be better. 

Now to react to just a couple things you mentioned..

Playing in the backyard.  LOL  Well, maybe if you live out in the country or don't have any nearby neighbors that like live music or the sound of fiddles/violins, that could maybe be quiet private time.  The very first time I took my acoustic violin (an MV300 I'd had for only a few days at the time) out into the back yard, I wasn't through my second song before the next door neighbor came out onto his back porch and yelled "Hey, I didn't know you played fiddle!"  To avoid going into a long story, even my first summer playing on acoustic fiddle/violin, any time I went into the back yard, I'd end up with a little audience of neighbors and their friends coming over to hang out while I played.  I never thought of that as a bad thing, it is good.  But it isn't private practice and you sure aren't likely to work on exercises or scales in that situation. Fortunately, I'd been playing electric violin for a couple months already, so I had at least some songs I could muddle through. 

I think it helped my progress and helped with my developing more respect/interest in the acoustic form of the instrument, rather than harming it.  Acoustic fiddle/violin is a nice strong little instrument that is so amazingly compact/portable.  Playing electric out in the back yard would involve lugging and hooking up quite a bit more gear and it isn't as easy to do on short notice.

So far as it being putting the cart before the horse.. Maybe. But I think a common problem with beginners is worrying about having a whole lot of that horse before they try out that cart.  You can play at least a bit in front of people pretty early on and survive it.  It can be a great incentive to knuckle down and put in some work on getting good.  Any regular violin teacher will likely have you doing recitals before you really feel like you are ready to play in front of people. There are good reasons for that.

I can see where it could be bad if someone got a lot of negative reactions when they play, like some folks in this community have gotten from family members or room-mates.  But the longer a person puts off playing in front of other people, the more chance they have to build up anxieties over it, and that just makes it harder when the day comes that they have to hook the cart to the horse and take it out for a drive.

I think of music as a form of communication.  Like with talking, a person can only learn so much by practising alone or with a mirror.  It takes at least a small audience to learn how to use your sounds to get your message across, to entertain.  Even a simple song played by a beginner can entertain, and if you can find even a couple people who will listen at least sometimes, I think it can can be valuable for learning even from very early on.

But we are different folks, and what we think of as "what works" is based on what worked for us.  So naturally, our advice will differ on various topics. 

 

(so far as ADHD, my oldest daughter has that, so yeah, I understand what you mean about distraction being a problem for you more than some folks might.  I also have an autistic son, so I don't like to take much "private time" when he's awake and home from school and may need me for something.  We all have our lives to work at weaving our music into.)

"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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Schaick
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I like it when family members are around when I practice.  I have asked them to go ahead and ask that question they need answered.  Then there is my grandson who does a sort of flat stepping on occasion when I am practicing.  He also inevitably needs something when I start playing.  They aren't interrupting, they are helping to grow my ability to play and sing/talk at the same time.  Who knew that was needed at a bluegrass jam?!? 

Also since the jam I attend is at a music store, there are always people at the jam I attend who are talking/laughing in the background.

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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Taper123
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I love the perspective/comments others have on practicing.   I would love a dedicated time and place... but life gets in the way.   I tried the fiddlerman practice challenge.  Missed it by two days.    Then again, wife ended up being in the hospital for a two week period while I was trying to do it.     Asked one of the night supervisors if I was bothering anybody playing on breaks or slow times.   She told me I was getting better, and to keep it up as long as I keep everything running smoothly.  Then she tells me the story of her kid and school/violin and was glad to hear someone who actually wants to learn.   I find it challenging, yet relaxing learning the complexities of the violin.  I'm still horrible at it... yet I keep on playing.  So whether you can find a dedicated time, privacy, or just make the best of your life's situation...  Just Play when you can....  if your hearts in it, you'll get better.   

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DanielB
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On the topic of getting better, there is an old martial arts (kung fu, karate, etc) story I've heard..

***

A young man goes to one of the Masters of (fill in the name of currently fashionable Oriental fighting art) and says "I wish to become a Master.. If I work hard, how long will it take?"

The Master looks the person over, thinks for a moment and says "20 years."

The person looks a bit disappointed and says, "That is too long.  What if I quit everything else I do and spend many hours every day practising?  How long will it take then?"

The Master says "30 years."

The person says, "I do not think you understand me.  I will give up everything to come and study at your feet.  I will do every exercise 10 times more than anyone else, doing whatever meditations and menial tasks you order.. I will live and breathe this art 24/7, working harder than anyone ever has before.. Then how long?"

The Master shrugs and says "Maybe 50 years?"

The person says "How can this be???"

The Master says "Mastery comes more slowly to those who are in such a hurry."

***

I think there is some truth in this.

Practice and playing are important, and to a degree, it is good to spend plenty of time with your instrument in your hands.  But there is more to it than just that.

It takes some time, since there are also things about the instrument and playing and music in general to learn.  One has to spend time listening and hearing what other players can do, and finding inspiration to keep your fire going.  One needs time to dream, and to revise and perhaps upgrade those dreams as you get better and more possibilities come into view. 

It takes time living as a musician, a violinist, letting yourself adapt to the understanding that "artist" or "musician" is always a part of who you really are, and letting the music find ways out in your playing, your expression. 

I am not saying that I don't think that time spent practising and playing isn't (in my opinion) the single most important factor... Get playing and pracitice in where and how you can.  But by itself it will still only work so fast.  Getting good still takes time.

Patience may be the smallest thing in most of our violin's accessory compartment, but just like rosin, you're going to have to have at least a bit of it.  LOL

"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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Fiddlerman
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I love that story Tamper123 🙂

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

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EricBluegrassFiddle
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Schaick said
I like it when family members are around when I practice.  I have asked them to go ahead and ask that question they need answered.  Then there is my grandson who does a sort of flat stepping on occasion when I am practicing.  He also inevitably needs something when I start playing.  They aren't interrupting, they are helping to grow my ability to play and sing/talk at the same time.  Who knew that was needed at a bluegrass jam?!? 

Also since the jam I attend is at a music store, there are always people at the jam I attend who are talking/laughing in the background.

Well, I think the point that I was trying to make is it really depends on what stage of learning your at also. If your able to go out and attend jams than your well on your way. I'm referring to mainly someone who is a rank beginner and just beginning to form good habits such as proper bow technique bowing, intonation fingering, holding the Violin etc..

These are crucial activities and involve multi tasking many things at once. It's better to be able to have as much focus as one can during this stage especially. I mean I'm at 1 year and 4 months now and I am well on my way and developing a decent foundation ( I think LOL ) but I've determined I'm not really quite ready yet to start heading out to jams just yet ( I can't anyways...I live in Argentina...I have NO ONE to jam with practically!!....but I'm getting there.

It took me the better part of the first year just to even get my bowing barely off of the ground with a somewhat looser wrist and fingers, to where I could even bow half way decent..

But everyone is different so I totally understand that...

 

That's a great story and it makes perfect sense... however, I also agree that patience is important. As a matter of fact, I actually have one day a week ( generally Thursdays ) where I don't practice at all, I don't even pick up the fiddle.... I also understand that Violin is very challenging and that one just can't push any faster than one's own ability to learn....trust me whenever I try, it's like I have to pull back on the reigns and let go and just continue. You just can't really push the learning any faster with this instrument. You just take it day by day and tackle the challenges as they come. Many times it's small increments with long plateus.... so I understand. I mean afterall, there's alot of physical and mental multi-tasking going on with this instrument.

However, what I'm getting at is not about how fast, or even how much one practices...it's about "the quality of that practice time"

 

Sometimes I have interruptions as well, and of course, I understand some folks have an easier go about getting practice time as opposed to others. Luckily, I have a daily schedule and it's worked out with my wife where she'll watch my son during those times so I can get a pretty decent practice in with little to no interruptions. It's a sacrifice on her part, and a huge one, but I also do it for her as well. When I'm done and she wants to go out shopping or do something with her friends or go for a jog...etc.. It's communication, sacrifice and compromise ( ok getting a bit personal here LOL. She knows learning Violin is imp to me, so we've worked out a plan to where I can have a bit of dedicated time each day to focus on this ( more so on the weekends ) I think personally, in my case, without this, it wouldn't be doable. But it allows me to go into a room, shut the door during that time and become immersed in what I need to focus on, albeit during that time. It's become habitual for us now, and we are pretty used to it.

I think frequency of practice is very good....and I also believe that if one can get more frequency, they'll obviously learn faster. Yet, I believe that "quality of that practice time" is much more important. However, most of us are adults, with responsibilities, that makes it MUCH more challenging, but it's still doable. 

Even so, I can't compare "apples and oranges" many of you are learning what fiddlerman plays, very demanding and challenging classical Violin which uses a myriad of techniques and stylings and is incredibly difficult to learn. As opposed to Bluegrass or Folk fiddle, which is easily as challenging within it's own context yet compared to classical techniques and the study and learning required...I mean there really isn't any comparison in many ways.

Anyways maybe I'm digressing..

 

I think it depends on the stage one is in, but I'd say definately in the beginning one should try to get as much of a focused practice as possible so as to form at least good, basic playing habits... even if it's less practice, try as much as possible. Just my opinion and approach I guess.

" I just keep telling myself...."It's all about becoming one with your bow"

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