My routine is pretty standard, I do scales, arpeggios, and dominant sevenths, at the same time practicing bowing technique I then do an etude related ro what I am trying to learn, or polish, at ths moment double stops. And then practice third position, and just lately fifth position,
I then go through most of the tunes I know, and then new pieces , and then read the sheet music of pieces I am thinking of learning, looking for difficult parts which may give problems.
@Jeffry R. -
Hey, so glad you're still with it!
First off, here's a link to more info found on this forum:
I don't think being distracted is necessarily a bad thing - as long as your distraction is something to do with music.
If your distraction is caused from boredom, change up your routine a little. Maybe give yourself 2 options (so you have choices), dependent upon your practice mood - some practice is better than nothing!
If you get frustrated with something - give it a break for a day & play something that reinforces your love of the instrument.
I believe that even listening to new music can be considered a good part of practice if you are thinking about how you can play it. 😊
Mouse & JohnG have started blogs to help with their practice routine & progress - you are welcome to start one, too.
My personal, unconventional, routine probably makes everything harder. (lol) I try to pick very different pieces at one sitting of practice - so I get a variety of: keys, speed, bow strokes, positions, some double stops/vibrato and time on all 5 of my strings. I work on what's giving me trouble at the moment & always have something new to work on, too.
Practice is a game to me - always a challenge, to change "me against my fiddle & music", to "me & my fiddle ARE music"!
I really do believe if you can follow Fiddlerman suggestions and tutorials, they are great guidelines for optimal progress.
Let's think about what the word efficient might mean.
A routine might just be a way of ploughing through yardage until the clock says it's time to stop.
And "going through most of the tunes you know" sounds like it may not be efficient.
The most efficient thing you can do is listen to every note you play, its tone and intonation, and your timing/rhythm. If you play a legato string crossing, are your two hands in perfect sync or does one lag behind the other? What do you do if there's a problem, isolate it and practise it slowly listening and thinking about what the mechanics are, or do you rush off and plough through a Kreutzer study, which will probably teach you nothing?
I’m not that good at practicing I tend to look out the window or realise I need to put the oven on or something. Also I’m learning the violin for enjoyment so I don’t want to be too hard on myself. I practice every morning ( I think I’ve had about three days in a year when I haven’t practiced in the morning) if it’s a week day and I’m working I’ll practice at lunch snd then in the evening. If it’s the weekend I’ll do a practice session in the afternoon. I also take my violin when I go away !
I usually start with open strings and then some scales and the Sevcik exercise one and then I usually go onto my pieces. I have a bad habit of doing a section of a song, giving up and moving onto a different one! Lately however I have started a notepad just to write things down etc I have even printed off some of the comments I’ve had in here and stuck them in my book! I’ve got all sorts of pictures of violinists limbs, hands etc! I have a big notice board about my music as well so I can glance up to see stuff!
I found a really good set of lessons on you tube by Nicola Benedetti and she talks about really slow practice and I think it was Andrew on the forum who mentioned about slowing down and listening to help with intonation. So I’m trying this with Romeo and Juliet which I think has a lovely melody! And I’m just trying to get the first few notes in tune it’s so painful !! And slow but it’s gotta be done !! also I do things like looking at the music and writing down where the string crossing is and practicing that on open strings!
Really good ideas on here I’ll be stealing them especially Gordon above !!
katie m said
I’m learning the violin for enjoyment so I don’t want to be too hard on myself.
This is a valid attitude, except that, take it from someone older, the years will fly by and you won't want to have wasted them!
I realised this when I was 39 and I said to myself, I will be 45 before I know it. I can either be a 45-year-old without a Classics degree, or I can be a 45-year-old with a Classics degree, so I studied Classics.
On the violin it's a case of push yourself now and relax when you have reached your goal. Relaxing too soon risks never reaching your goal. There is pleasure in learning, but there is more pleasure in being advanced and being in an advanced peer group.
@Gordon maybe I should have said practice the tunes I know, I actually do exactly as you say, practice without thinking what you are doing is pointless which is one of the reasons I read the background to every etude I play. The posters title was efficient practice, but The OPs question in the thread was what routine do you use, not how you implement it. After all I couldnt tell him how to practice as I have never heard him play, I gOt my own routine from a violinist of many years experience who I work with and who told me that was how she practiced, and recomended it to me after hearing one of my recordings.
@Gordon maybe I should have said practice the tunes I know
I know, but my worry was how many you might practise at any given time. The implication was lots, in which case you wouldn't have much time to devote to each tune. But of course, you may just mean that you cycle through them.
Otoh, spending too long on any known piece brings diminishing returns, and I try to push myself and every few months try a harder piece no matter how little I've achieved on the simpler piece. The newer, harder techniques pay off when you go back to the simpler pieces.
I tried to address routine in my answer to the OP, but the thread title involves efficiency.
I agree with you entirely, too many is too much, but I did say most of the tunes not all of them, I actually advised johng not to do too many at once and to concentrate on a shorter set, mind you it depends how long I have got to practice anyway.
On your second point I agree with that as well, I have my baroque book, in which some of the tunes are not too difficult but others are quite hard, so I try the hard ones as well as the easy, which helps in all sorts of ways.
At the moment and for quite a while I have been studying night music by mozart, I like the shifts, as well as the speed changes, its a great workout and once I eventually hopefully get to play it to a reasonable level I will be satisfied.
I've never had as much time to practice as I'd like, so I've learned to be extremely efficient with my practice time. Even more so recently, because of chronic shoulder problems that keep me from practicing daily. My practice routine has changed slightly from when I last posted it (now that I'm taking lessons that are focused on injury rehab and prevention), but the big picture is still roughly the same.
Warm-up: breathing exercises and stretches, open strings, slow free improvisation
Technical maintenance: scales and arpeggios, one or two etudes from my current rotation of them
Repertoire: I always start this with a plan to address specific problem spots, and focus on just a few of them each day. As I've mentioned before, I've been known to spend entire practice sessions working on as little as two measures of music. I may play through a movement or a 2-3 minute segment of a movement to identify problems I need to work on, but at this point I'm getting enough feedback in lessons that I usually already have plenty to occupy my practice time. I never play through all my repertoire at once, because a single play-through would eat up too much of my practice time.
Technical focus: last 5-10 minutes working on a specific technique that I'm focusing on, because the last thing you practice is the thing that sticks in the mind most.
@lorriemi4 Thank you everyone for your answers, Yes I see how different point of views there are, like @Katie m, said, slow practice, I think I know what i was missing to finally improve, even though I have known that a slow practice is good, sometimes details like that simply fly away, I’ll try a much more slower practice and recognize, intonation bow articulations like of you said, Yes! I’ll definitely try it, thanks!!!
It’s a really good thread! I’m always wondering how I should be practicing so it’s good to get everyone’s ideas! I’ve only had a few ultra slow practice sessions but it’s definitely helping with my intonation and making me focus! It’s makes my practice more chilled out as well kind of more meditative. I recommend the Nicola Benedetti with nicky and nicky with much there are loads of tips!
I might run a scale when starting practice but honestly my goals at this point are pretty basic so my practice will be whatever tune(s) are on list. Either from previous lesson or one Im learning on my own. Vibrato is still on the radar but ive pushed it down the road again. hoping the vibrato godfather will visit during a practice session and just bestow that skill. I know what a commitment that will be once I start and just think im not ready yet.
when I practice a tune or set it will rarely be a straight run through it. Ill do things like start on the B part of a tune that leads to another tune and practice the switch to different tune which usually is a different fingering. Ill concentrate on the sections that are giving me problems..say repeat measure 7 five or ten times then go back and practice playing into and out of that measure. once i feel i have the notes under my fingers ill see if i remember by playing to a track or another artist version or metronome ...something that will keep me honest on timing. then once i feel ok with that ill record and hear how its sounding. gradually ill try and build up speed and if been using sheet music will try and keep that turned over and only flip back once I miss or forget something. If ive listened to a recording of the tune thats being learned.. a bunch...it really helps. i realize that probably only works for folk or pop type stuff..but thats all im doing at the moment so works for me. right now my goals are to build up a list of tunes i can play on the fly without music...this year has been good for that. feel like my progress is moving forward and building and havent felt stagnent in a while.
made me smile greg, sounds just like me, my missus goes mad when I play say two bars about forty times, lol, good fun isnt it.
I have to hear a tune before sheet music is much good to me, I have to hear the timing. if its a simple tune, I dont need the music at all and rely on ear, but otherwise I use the sheet as a reference more than anything, I will be honest, sheet with lots of flats sometimes leaves me baffled and I have to translate it in the brain which with my brain takes some time, like pushing an elephant up a hill with one hand, and one foot in a bucket of cement.
@stringy one thing ive been doing the last couple of weeks is playing the tune being learned slow on mandolin before bed. lots more quiet and easier on the ears. of course technique is different since a pick is involved but fingering the same and just a way to squeeze a few more minutes of music outta my day.
My practice is usually broken up—I rarely practice for more than 45 minutes at a time. But I’ll practice multiple times during the day, although my main practice session (and longest) is in the evening. If I’m going to perform/play with others (e.g., ensemble group practice/performance), I do a full play through (at least once) of whatever I’m going to play at least the day before.
I usually have a main piece I’m working on. When I first start the piece, I have small sections that I work through—a section may only be a few measures, depending on difficulty. I may spend 10-20 minutes working on a section at a time. Almost always, this practice is slower than performance speed. This is the time to analyze what I’m doing—if it doesn’t sound/feel right, how do I fix it?
After spending time (i.e., over practice sessions, days, etc.,) on these individual sections, I’ll start putting these sections together. Over time, that 10-20 minute time frame will include 2 or more sections brought together as I am able to play them better.
I usually start my practice (after warm-up scales or other thing, usually related to piece I’m working on) with the trouble sections first. I’ll end my practice playing something that I find easier (easier section of the piece, or established piece I know). I find it easier to end on the positive.
I do view “practice” & “playing” as two different things—both are important. Practice is the work. Playing is the payoff. Practice gets you improvement. Playing gives you enjoyment. Not saying you can’t enjoy practice (I do—I like the analyzing/problem solving thing)—just think it’s important to differentiate between them, because I think you need the balance of both to avoid frustration.