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I kept a practice diary during my first year.
A5, page a day. It was very useful initially, but I haven't even opened this year's one yet. I often try to plan long-term progress (2 years ahead), so that I have a rough idea of what pieces I want to be playing and when, to stretch myself.
Trouble is, since I'm always stretching myself, I'm always bad, and morale can suffer that way, so I revisit easier stuff. I opened a thread about lockdown blues last year. I think it was a book of easy melodic Dancla studies that revivified me. Recently I've discovered the joys of Wohlfahrt.
It never harms to play something expressive like Somewhere over the Rainbow every now and then. It's only as easy as you make it. Pour on expression by the bucketful and it's a good workout. (play it in D and play the be-diddle-iddle bits in 2nd position. Maybe you can play it in both D and G on the viola, where 2nd position might be more generally useful)
Good to see you keep challenging yourself!
My simple advice is spend time on playing music you love, that just has a lot of what you need in it. Maybe it's music you've been avoiding - thinking it's too difficult. That's where the 'love' comes into play - gives you the motivation.
Find short tunes, melodies or practice on sections, phrases or motifs and get the feel - is it somber/melancholy, jumping, swaying?
If it's intonation, maybe chose a piece that has notes you are NOT used to - sharps, flats and different positions, that make you listen to tell if you play them correctly. Best way to learn to hear correctly is to play along with someone or something that does play it correctly.
If it's bowing, maybe chose a piece you like that has a variety of bowing challenges, like fast string crossings, a few double stops, long strokes mixed with many short ones and varying speed.
If you need more 4th finger strength, chose a short tune you love that uses a lot of it, etc...
Maybe not a good idea to chose a piece of music that has everything you need to work on, all at once. (lol) 🤔... suppose, if you do have that kind of motivation, then GO FOR IT! 🤗
You may think my trying to to give any advice is ludicrous, especially after my videos near the water - but in all fairness, the wind affected me WAY more than I could imagine possible.
...I'll redeem myself with an indoor video, soon. 😊
I like the idea of planning your practices. It is kind of like having an agenda at a meeting to keep it on track. I keep journals when I officiate of games and what I learned and can do better on. I think it is a great idea to do that on fiddling too. Then I can look back and see the progress and help plan what I need to work on. Of course right now everything seems overwhelming!
Keep up the good work!
I had a Classics tutor who, being an old-timer, used a card-index for things he wanted to keep a record of.
I decided I'd need to be taught how and instead began a Classics/Anglo-Saxon Blog. It lasted from 2011 until recently and has 346 entries. But I kept it private, due to textual copyright doubts.
I don't think I personally want a violin blog, although it will work for some.
Initially the page-a-day diary and constant reference to Galamian were necessary, as there was so much to think about, but nowadays I know roughly what my faults are and can work on them without need for reference material.
Most recently I've become aware of how poorly I move over to the D string - there are intonation issues with the little finger, and the bowing suffers because I'm rarely bowing close enough to the bridge and the result is a plasticky sound. That's annoying because Lyndon on vcom thinks codabows (mine is a GX) sound plasticky in the midrange, and I don't want him to be right.
Coincidentally a few similar baroque pieces all at the level I'm at have similar work on the D-string, so good fortune has presented me with suitable study material.
This is a great post and really interesting seeing everyone’s replies and ideas. I think putting stuff away so you don’t get tempted is a is a good plan.
I often wonder if I’m practicing correctly as I don’t really have much of a routine and I don’t have a plan at all. I think at the moment I can fit all the things I’m doing in my head as I’m such a beginner. I just do some scales and then work on the piece I’m trying to play. I am guilty of giving up and moving into something else when I feel I’m not improving.
I like the blog idea! Would that be for us to see?