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My goal is still to be competitive in professional orchestra auditions one day...
The difference is that I don't feel the need to get there by a certain age, so I don't have to cram all the learning in within a certain number of years. You don't have to practice 4-5 hours a day to be "any good" -- you probably do, at least once you reach 10-12, to get into conservatory at 18 and have a good shot at winning professional auditions immediately after you graduate.
Philadelphia Orchestra concertmaster David Kim weighs in on practice time.
"It depends," Kim said, adding that at this point he practices about one to two hours a day. That said, he has noticed that for a high-level player "there has to be three or four periods in one's life where you practice a LOT and HARD," Kim said. Like five hours a day. "But nobody can sustain five hours a day over a whole lifetime - our bodies are not meant for that. But consistency of practice is important."
Sharing a couple enlightening videos I watched the other day - about PRACTICING... of course!
Eyal Kless words it kinda funny, but VERY helpful - so we aren't wasting our time & get the most out of our practice!
I like that Eyal stresses 'everything we do during practice should have a purpose' - NO mindless repetition.
What really surprised me - his take on learning a new piece. Not only a small sec of notes at a time, but everything about that small section, before moving on to the next - bowing, rhythm, dynamics, and up to speed!
To me, this is where having an mp3, or video, reference of your piece comes in handy for learning something new.
The 'practicing up to speed' is what gets to me.
Eyal specifically states something like, "don't practice slow for 2 weeks before trying to get up to tempo - you'll just learn to play slow". He also proposes pushing up the tempo in the very 1st practice!
I do try to push up the tempo as soon as I can - sometimes not for a few days. I do have trouble with some fast tunes & can have a problem getting past .75, or .85 speed - I get stuck. Sometimes, I deliberately choose to play slower, but I really need to check with a metronome to find out if I'm always getting stuck at the same 'bpm'.
...just more I'm working on. 🙄
Also related & worth watching:
Reducing Finger Pressure - Eyal Kless
Stress Relief For The Left Hand - Eyal Kless
I find that it is better for me to focus on the quality of practice more than on the quantity. Other activities and obligations in my life very much impact my available practice time, so it is unrealistic (and frustrating) for me to expect day-to-day consistency.
It is helpful for me to direct my attention to how I am practicing, what I am working on. I try to practice in the early morning and late afternoon. Morning practice is about building my skills, for example right now I’m working on fast and clean string crossing, also getting better in awkward keys. In the afternoons I like to let loose, play tunes, focus on expression and musicality, experiment with interesting improvisations. Sometimes these experiments don’t work, but often something wonderful happens and it makes me a little bit better fiddler. Inspiring times.
I have learned that my attitude often varies depending on what I’m working on. When i stumble on challenging technique I’m inclined to think that I’m the world’s slowest learner, that I’ll never be any good. But in the afternoon I’m often impressed with how well I play! I can really do this! I’m the Real Thing!
Once I learned to accept these different modes of learning, practicing became less of a duty or chore, and more of an opportunity. Like everything else, some days and some times work better than others.
Having this topic resurface always helps to regenerate my enthusiasm.
It takes a lot to keep me motivated for the longer-term work on things I need to change. Member's views, tips, plus the videos here - all help to keep me going!
Been trying to convince myself that even 5 minutes a day, for each of the things that have been hard for me to change, would yield me better results than my sporadic attempts, but I haven't been very successful at being my own 'practice coach'.
Sometimes I have the energy to get the 'not fun' stuff out of the way first, sometimes I just can't bring myself to tackle those things until after I've explored learning something new & exciting, to charge me up. Some days I just don't want to face any of my 'really not fun' exercises at all and convince myself I'm okay by just working on something else - like intonation, or bowing (which I don't mind doing).
Listening to music helps motivate me to practice, but I have to admit to a psychological aversion of the word 'exercise' - strict regime, repetitive... seriously negative for me & I have to find a way to change my mindset.
I wish the concept of 'wasting time', or 'lack of progress', was enough to motivate me to change, but I always see some progress and I can always find time - if I really want to. ...can't believe I've lost my ability to change self-defeating behavior. 😔
Another wake-up call for me!