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practice habits
what do you do ?
Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 (3 votes) 

July 16, 2014 - 9:32 pm
Member Since: March 3, 2014
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I have never been one to have very structured practice time but it can be good to get some more structure. I have been playing a lot more scales lately, so if the song I will be practicing is in Dmaj then I'll play the Dmaj scale etc. But I also try and put in a few fun songs that I have been playing for a while, just to make the practice time more enjoyable, in saying that though most of the time my practice songs are enjoyable too. :)

Good on you for trying different ways of practicing Barry, I'm sure you'll get lots of advice more useful than mine facepalm :D

California, the place of my heart

July 17, 2014 - 1:30 am
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cool to organize pratice.  I often just play through a stack of songs... And work on 2-3 at time.  I focus now on the parts that I hear wrong on my recordings .. And listen to correct version... I have had improvement in not just playing to play because it's so dang fun!    

I have added some bowing pratice and vibrato practice.   Thanks to you I had a much better practice.. Omg.. A huge difference in bowing not on the wicked edge... Holy cow!!!! My violin is great sounding.  Wow.. Huge difference.  A buddy told me recently to try more pressure... And I did... But when bowing on the wicked edge... I still couldn't get it right.  I am tickled and eager to play again tomorrow.

Kiara you are too sweet!  And your advice is great... Scales scales and scales right... I don't think anyone great ever said scales are bad.. If so, I am sure I will stand corrected soon.  Ha ha. I am glad you are enjoying your practices.  It is probably another reason that you play so beautifully.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato


July 17, 2014 - 8:20 am
Member Since: May 4, 2012
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Well Barry, I've detailed my practice routine for violin a few times on here, and from what I gather, it wouldn't be most folks' cup of tea. LOL  So I'll talk about other elements I try to use in practice, the principles and tricks.

First trick is that practice starts the night before.  End of your day, when you're in a decent mood and have played a good bit is the time to take a few minutes to decide what you'll work on at next practice.  You've just played, or played through various times of the day/evening, so you *know* what you want to get a bit better at.  So decide on some exercises or etc to work on those bits.  That lets practice sessions be a bit different every day, to avoid burn-out, and you're always practising things you are actually going to use.

"Plan your work, then work your plan."

Next trick is practice isn't just what you do.  It is how you keep your motivation up to do it. So "the night before", I also may pick out a short article to read before practice, or a video or tutorial I saw that really got me wanting to pick up an instrument and play, or a short interview with someone I admire.  A little something for right before practice, that I can read through or listen to right after I've tuned up, but before I actually start.  Something to get motivation up and get the brain going on a good track.  It also gives something to do with those articles and interviews and tutorials that you find or people send to you, where you just don't have the time to run right off and watch.  Add them to the list and in time, you'll get to them.

Another trick I use is I break my practice down into small "nibbles".  I have a little kitchen timer set for 5 min that I use a LOT in practice.  All the exercises or drills I do are 5 min long.  I used to get very frustrated sometimes because practice gets interrupted.  Breaking it down into 5 min pieces, if I get interrupted, it doesn't feel like it messed up 30 min or so of work.  Just 5 min, no biggie.  I can re-do that little section.  Usually I'll got right from one 5 min section into another without even a pause, but if I do have to stop to deal with something, I don't lose as much momentum or get as annoyed if it happens a few times (or more than a few) in a day's practice.   Works for me, might or might not be necessary with your life.

Another reason for the timer and those 5 min "nibbles".. If someone in my household has a question or something they're going to ask me to do, they can just take a peek at the timer and usually find something else to do until it goes off. They know I'll pause for at least a few seconds to reset it, and that will be a better time to talk to me than trying to do it in the middle of an exercise where I'm trying to give it my concentration.  Helps with getting along with the other people in life.

Then there's break times.  For me, practice goes best in 15-25 min chunks made up of those 5 min nibbles.  Sometimes it feels best to just bull on ahead into another section of practice, and sometimes it feels like a break is in order to walk around a bit, pour another cup of coffee, have a cigarette, whatever.  I usually will get my playlist going with my reference pieces or new songs/pieces I want to learn, so I can listen and soak it into memory and think on what I want to do with it later while I'm "on break" for 10 min or so.  I keep breaks to about 10 min and I mostly avoid doing things like checking forums or email during the breaks, because I get side-tracked too easy.

After I've put in about 45 min on guitar that way and then 45 on violin, then I consider practice done for the day, and I'm good to go with anything I may want to play or work on for the rest of the day.  Some days I may also practice another instrument or two that I play, but two seems to be about what I can reliably get myself to do every day, so I don't *count* on getting to more.  There's only so many hours in a day.

Anyway, there's some thoughts.  Maybe you can find an idea or two in it to use, maybe not.  Best of luck on your "level up" in any case, though, Barry!

"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

California, the place of my heart

July 17, 2014 - 12:25 pm
Member Since: January 11, 2012
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Good stuff Dan.. as usual.

Since no one at my home interrupts I usually have time to just go for it.   When I get home from work I have about an hour to play.. but it is also.. letting out the dogs... feeding them, and putting something on the stove...  I pull my stand and violin out to the room by the kitchen and it goes pretty smooth. I really like that practice time alone when the house is empty.  I also record when the house is empty.

On Wednesdays I am not home until 9-9:30 pm.  I was missing practices.  But last night I got home with the mind set that I would just get a glass of wine and go to bed

Of course... I am filled up with Violin chat and desire.. all day long.. and then that good tip I go yesterday.  So to get back on the topic of the 5 minutes.. I picked up my stand and violin and headed to my bedroom to play.. "for just 5-10 minutes"  of course that turned into 30 minutes and it was productive.  🙂

Ramble ramble...

I also like the idea of having material, articles, videos to inspire the next practice.  Good thought on that. 

Ciao!!  (coffee is my friend today.. )  ah  ha

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

Tuticorin, India
Honorary advisor

July 19, 2014 - 12:11 pm
Member Since: August 22, 2011
Forum Posts: 485
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Excellent practice tips from Daniel. Thank you sir.

Mine is as follows:

First thing, exercises for arm, wrists and neck (I don't use a shoulder rest);

Rest for 10 minutes with coffee

Open string bowing - full bows on all strings as slowly as I could; then short open string bowings on all the lanes on all strings; double stops using full bows and short bows;also practiced on open strings are slurring, spiccato & staccato.  These things will take nearly an hour.  Rest for 20 to 30 minutes.  single finger chromatic fingerings on all strings with all four fingers(NO BOWING) from neck to end of finger board.  bowing the first 5 notes on all strings.  These things will take 40 to 45 minutes.  2 hrs is for these things.  After finishing this second phase I will relax my fingers, arm and neck for 15 minutes.  Rest of the day a maximum of 5 tunes here and there which will consume totally an hour.  In between I will be doing some bow exercises, without violin for about 30 minutes.  Any suggestions.. you are welcome.  Thanks for your time and patience.


If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it ..(William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night)

Far North-west Scotland

July 19, 2014 - 12:57 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
Forum Posts: 1573
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@suresh - that is truly insane ( I say that in the nicest way possible!)  !  

( and - yes - I am just kidding with you - not insane at all for a pro player like yourself there  - I can WELL believe that is what it takes to "pick up and play, on the spot, anything requested at any time...)... but man....  too MUCH FOR ME !!!  LOL - oh - when the day breaks, and I think "aha - fiddle time (yes, I even dream about it when I can play ANYTHING ) !!!" even before I think "coffee" - I just know I'm hooked...  and I actually enjoy, in my half-asleep-state being aware that my intonation is ... well... I won't use the words here...  but I measure it for what it is  - and a couple of minutes later - well - I'm close ( well, we are never perfect - no-one can tell me that!   Not to the last cent, we're not - if it sounds OK - it's OK... LOL ) 

But yes - open string bowing, slow, medium, faster, harder - I do get that as well - it often tells me unexpected things - rosin too little and we're scratching ( or on occasion too much and we're "dull" sounding - whatever ) - etc... but that's just that from my own perspective - good to discus it...  I also am now aware of the  subtle, but noticeable pitch-change on open string between hard and soft bowing - which of course applies to fingered notes as well - very telling - I am learning a lot here......  ( well that's a different thread entirely... )

scales are also my friend - even the ones I still struggle with - I think your post was very illuminating indeed, (so - thank you!) - if not actually one I would be able to follow ( time wise )

Thanks suresh,

  Cheers, Bill

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

September 29, 2014 - 6:13 am
Member Since: September 17, 2014
Forum Posts: 47
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Hi all,

I like the title, 'practice habits!'

I suppose they should  be habits that lead us to higher levels , but sometimes they don't, but why?

Psychologically we are not well prepared and this hampers what we try to do.

Preparartion is (as far as I am concerned) very important.

For example, if I am going to learn a new study I will first ensure that I am capable of playing the scale fluently, and if there are chromatic passages can cope with this as well.

It is also important to check through the piece for bowings, directions and styles and include your own mark-ups as necessary.

If the time signature and rhythm are tricky it is usually a good idea to play some drills before jumping in as well.

Now my approach to a new piece is to learn it in small chunks to fluency before moving on.

Sure I could probably learn the complete study in maybe one or two practice sessions, but how would it sound!!

Not so good I am thinking!

Now for me at age 60 yrs I like to practice for 1 to 2 hours each week day. However these sessions have lots of little breaks in them to illiminate the possibility of fatique, both physical and mental. This is particularly important for beginners, so take note otherwise you will end up with at least sore muscles and a stiff neck!

Thanks for reading.



Remember:Roman wasn't built in a day!

Honorary tenured advisor

September 29, 2014 - 10:20 am
Member Since: September 7, 2012
Forum Posts: 985
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Chinafiddler said

Preparartion is (as far as I am concerned) very important.

Here I'll get a little philosophical.

I'm thinking that preparation is good as it relates to the rule "Don't practice mistakes."

That would seem to imply we are best off if we don't make any mistakes in the first place.  Preparing by practicing abstract music such as scales and drills would expend the errors on the abstract material and reduce the chance that the errors would survive into the performance of the piece one is learning.

I play a few scales and arpeggios, but I'm not very systematic about practice.  But hey, I hope no one minds me trying to talk myself into it!  Actually I'm near the end of resolving some basic errors of form, so maybe it's been good to hold off the abstract material until those problems were resolved.

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