Please feel free to share. “The Little Drummer Boy Project”
I know from my own past experiences with my practice that there will be good days and not so good days... However.. I really would like to know why some days I have the BEST practice and I'm spot on with my intonation, etc. Then there's other days like today where my intonation is terrible, my bowing is terrible, and I feel all over the place. Why can't I play consistent? What do you all do for these "waves" of good and bad practice? I felt so great and proud of my progress when I was playing yesterday. Today I feel pretty discouraged and almost mad at myself for how terrible I did. Can someone offer me some tips/advice?
I know that I'll have many more good days as well as bad.. I know that I will keep going because I love my violin and I love playing it.. Day's like today just really get me down though..
Take a day or two off. Seems to help for me. I go through the same things. . A day or two off for me USUALLY follows with what feels like a good practice day following when I go back. I would also bet youve been practicing alot havent you? You might be due for a day or two break and probably have moved on to more advanced stuff. So the combination of harder stuff and just alot of playing may be making practice more work right now and youre violin fatigued.. Thats Just how I think about my playing. Hope it helps.
StacyC, we all have or off days even pro athletes, musicians etc. Have off days. Years ago when I was shooting competition, at a fairly high level, I would occasionally have a off day at a competition. I had practiced well, slept well, ate right, but my scores would be down. My mentor introduced me to a idea called "bio rhythm" a monthly cycle where your mental and physical abilities are off a few days of the month surprisingly enough when he calculated my statics it showed my bio rhythm was on the bottom swing for the month seems odd. While I certainly did not live my life by them but on a bad day it normally showed up my bio chart was down.
Just keep plugging along it will be a great ride.
Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.
I find the quality of my practice, whether it's a "good" practice or not, has so much to do with my mental state. If I have a something on my mind, I don't concentrate as well. If I have a lot of things to do after practice, I feel "under the gun". Even if I rush to get things done so I can practice, I find that frenzied feeling follows me into my practice session. I really have to be in the right frame of mind to practice. I need to take some time just to physically relax and clear my mind before I even pick up my violin. When I am having a "bad" practice, I put my violin down, sit back for a few moments, and ask myself what's going on here? Sometimes that is enough to help me focus better on my practice. Sometimes I have to put the violin down and take care of what is on my mind. Some days it means not even going anywhere near my violin because I know I am in no state to practice.
Be assured, Stacey, that you're no different than the rest of us. And, as stated above, take the occasional day or two off. Your brain needs time to process all it's been going through. Think of it as the practice equivalent of REM sleep.
And in the evenings, I practice until I start making more mistakes than usual. That's my body and mind telling me to go find my pillow and book and I don't argue. Trying to keep playing is frustrating.
During my rest day(s), I'll totally put everything down and become a musical muggle for that time. If, however, you feel you can't really do without some sort of 'practice', read some music theory, Fiddler Magazine or Strings (or whatever genre you're into), and just listen to music for how it's being played. This works for me, acknowledging everyone is different.
Bad times make for good stories.
This is so normal!
I follow Hilary Hahn, a world class professional soloist and one of the most awesome violinists of our time, on social media and one post she simply said she was having a bad day... she posted some playing and talked about how her intonation was off, her timing was off.. granted, her definition of an "off day" is a little different from ours, but my point is it happens to everyone! Even professionals.
The cause of an off day can be just about anything. Too many to list. The experience you are describing, where you play well one day and are off on another, is just normal, especially for string players.
I have off days too. Mine can be attributed to a bad experience that day, fatigue, hunger, too hot, too cold, headache, sore neck, sore anything, feeling "out of sorts", a little under the weather, missing my best friend, the list for me goes on...
Other times I can attribute it to something with my violin, but this is much less the case.
My solutions for me depend on what is going on. Sometimes I can get myself into a good mood (it is possible to do). Sometimes I can change the temperature of the room. Sometimes I can do stretches. It just depends. And there are time when I just need to push through and play, even if it is a shorter practice than normal.
For me, I can take the day off from practice, but this would need to be an extreme circumstance. I never want to get into even the slight hint of a slacker habit. So I will take a day off for illness, emergencies, or other things that are really out of the ordinary.
Your topic is titled "Feeling Discouraged" though, and that is a little different than simply an off day. Don't be hard on yourself. Be determined to improve, but do not beat yourself up because one day you are not playing as well as you want to. As long as the general progression of your playing is improving, the occasional setback is not a sign of any problem. Keep playing, keep the enthusiasm.
Each day is another day you can play your violin. I am incredibly grateful for each day that I can play.
- Pete -
Thanks everyone.. I've just decided that when I'm going through one of these kind of days, I will take a break for a day (though, not always.. LOL) I'm trying to be less hard on myself but I've always been that way to myself on a lot of things, unfortunately.
I absolutely love my violin and I love playing it. Feeling discouraged isn't going to keep me from playing it.. It just stinks having to go through those kind of days.. 🙂
I appreciate all of your kind words of advice!
@StaceyC I can relate to being hard on yourself. I have a history of being demanding of myself, or perhaps I just easily put myself down. I don't see much difference, do you?
Is it being hard on yourself, or feeling as if something is wrong with you that you can't play the way you want on some days? I know for me, if I am honest with myself, it is usually the latter.
It is a struggle, but I have to try and put those negative thoughts behind me, many years of that kind of negative thinking. I have my fiddle-motto written on the wall in the room I practice: Learn Some - Have Fun! When I look at that, it makes me laugh, ease up on myself, and realize there is nothing wrong with me; I am just having a hard time at that moment, but this will pass as well.
Does it always work? Nah! But, old habits are hard to break!
@MoonShadow wow... I'd say you were inside my head. Thank you for saying that.. It couldn't be more true... I like your motto and may adopt it myself lol!
I was just wondering how the playing is going and how your motivation is?
Actually, it hasn't been too bad. I do give myself small breaks when I'm getting really frustrated with myself and I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. I've had longer breaks lately between practice sessions over the last 2 months due to having persistent vertigo, but otherwise it's been going well. Thank you for asking! How have you been doing with your practicing?
Good to hear you are still working on your playing! That's awesome!
Taking breaks is a great way to practice. This allows your physical and mental state to rest.
I have needed to up my game on my practice, meaning I have been increasing not only how much time I have been practicing, but how much material I have been working on.
Soon I will be starting with a new orchestra here. It is a local community orchestra and I want to be ready as far as my skills and have my basics down. I want to come in ready to go.
So I am hitting scale work pretty hard and I am working on my vibrato and shifting, as well as some bowing, such as smooth bowing, spiccato, fast bowing and other things that I need to work on.
Tone and intonation are always a work in progress for me. I focus on this while I am playing scales.
There is so much to work on.....
- Pete -
You could increase your number of goals, maybe.
If your only goal is to "learn the violin" or "make music", then it's possible you need a more specific goal to tide you over the bad patches.
In my case I want to quit my uke group and join an amateur orchestra instead (and find a wife, lol).
I've read on guitar forums that there are people who believe that they should stick with a piece until it's "perfect" or until they can play it 10 times in succession without a mistake. If they make a mistake they put the counter back to zero and start again. These people are crazy, and discouragement will hit them quickly and hard. DIMINISHING RETURNS is the important concept.
My advice is play a piece until you can nail it 80% then play a harder piece. That way the discouragement will be less, I think, because there will be a rational reason for the difficulty you are facing.
I think something that helps me is to not always start a tune, piece of music..whatever at the beginning and try and always play start to finish. There will always be more difficult parts that I have to concentrate on. I'll try and get those parts right..slowly at least 5 times in a row. Then back up and approach those parts as a whole section. An example would be maybe a difficult measure in the B part of a tune..get that measure down then try and play the B part as a whole...then try and put it all together as a tune slowly. Its a lifetime thing though isn't it? I mean playing fiddle and trying to remember tunes is gonna be something that involves years not something that just quickly happens After the more technical and focused type of practice I'll put on a recording of a tune I'm trying to learn and just play along with it slowed down. Rinse and repeat again..ground hog day everyday.. But its fun.