How I Finally Took Charge of My Ineffective Violin Practice in 2016. And How You Can Do the Same in 2017.

Part 1 of 5.

By the end of 2016 a lot of unexpected things became clear about my violin playing. This was surprising, since I’m certainly not a newcomer to playing (and teaching) the violin.

Here are a few of the more useful surprises:

  • I practiced for hours. Probably too many. But most of the gains, (the stuff that stuck) happened during the first half hour, while I was warming up. I found that no matter what else I did that day, it was crucial to get the first 30 minutes exactly right.
  • Very often I got a lot more done (and learned a song or piece faster) by practicing just a few notes, instead of trying to cover several pages of music.
  • At times I thought that my playing had “topped off.” I kept thinking I had hit the limits of my ability. But think again. More often than not, it was a very common but destructive mindset taking its toll. Believe me, this can really hit you hard when you’re trying to get better.
  • Like me, if the thought of performing in public sometimes turns your stomach, if playing a solo gives you sweaty palms and an uncontrolled bouncing bow, you already know that you are not alone. Happily this got a lot better for me in 2016. The good news is that you have the ability to slow down or completely put to rest your butterflies using the very same methods.
  • If you haven’t already at some point, you’ll start getting work offers (gigs). I’ve learned that it feels great to be asked, but there are times when you’ve simply got to learn how to say “no thanks!” On occasion a bit of negotiation can really help. Accepting the wrong gigs can bite you in the.. (expletive deleted!)

What About Your Own Violin Playing in 2017?

Are you kicking yourself for a lack of progress? Frustrated about all the wasted time, the lost opportunities and the negativity around playing the violin? Shouldn’t violin really be something wonderful and beautiful in your life?

What’s most important for your own 2017 violin practice? Click on the link(s) that matter most to you! You’ll also have a chance to ask specific questions about your goals.

Click on one or more links:

I’ll be reading your responses and responding to your questions in coming weeks. You can sign up to be on my mailing list and receive a new article each week by email. Simply click this link to sign up

Please, please learn from my mistakes! You can cut out the drudgery and replace the suffering with your own truly beautiful violin practice. You can move ahead in your playing as you move ahead in your life. That’s the idea behind InvincibleViolinist.com.

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Here’s to your most-beautiful-yet violin journey in 2017!

Bill Alpert

Founder: InvincibleViolinist.com
The Alpert Studio of Voice and Violin

Making the Violin Dead Simple

Always start your practice with something simple. Dead simple.

Even if you feel it’s beneath you.

You’ve got a few minutes to practice the violin? Great! In your busy life it’s increasingly hard to find time you can devote to something that seems so impractical as working on violin tutorials!

So you skip the simple stuff, and go right to the advanced songs and music that you’ve been working on for months. And maybe with little improvement to show for it.

After all, you’re making up for lost time, and who wants to work on those bland songs or boring scales??

But… for almost every violinist, amateur or pro, beginner to expert, starting a practice session with your meatiest musical challenge is a HUGE MISTAKE.

I know, from having lived through this scenario so many times. And like so many other things in life, the right thing to do is sometimes the LEAST OBVIOUS. In fact, your best possible choice is often counter-intuitive. It’s the thing you’re least likely to choose.

Purely by accident I found out that the best way to conquer something I can’t play is to sneak into it by practicing something else. Something entirely different. And most important, something that’s so simple I can practically play it in my sleep.

Makes no sense, right? Or does it?

Mapping Your Practice

Violin is a physical activity. Lots of moving parts to coordinate. It requires a lot of finesse; you’ve got to be in touch with hundreds of subtle body sensations at any given moment.

But we get all wound up in mental traps. And we’re constantly telling ourselves stories about our ability (or lack thereof). We robotically practice ourselves into a state of mental frenzy, neutralizing any ability of our brain to help us.

But worst of all, this negative process becomes habitual. And it cripples us because the emotion inside of it leaves us out of touch with the very physical sensations that are key to improving our skills.

You end up trying harder and harder while digging yourself further into a hole. That nasty lick, that fancy bowing pattern, that hard to find pitch becomes even just a little more impossible every time you try it.

Yes, practice can make your playing worse. It happens all the time.

Don’t become a victim of practice thats “gone mental.”

Always start your practice with an easy physical and mental breathing “meditation.” If you’re feeling rushed, that’s even more reason to take this advice.

Focusing on physical actions and sensations makes the difference between success and failure for violinists. People who try to master the violin by only learning songs soon hit a wall where further improvement is impossible.

That’s why all of my training zooms in closely on the physical motions and actions of playing. Sometimes microscopically close.

DOWNLOAD MY FREE GUIDE TO THE VIOLIN

Evolutive A Major Performance and Practice Track

Here’s something I’ve created to enhance your violin practice. Please try it and and let me know your thoughts!

The EAPT is an unconventional and powerful way to enhance your music practice. This seven minute practice experience is a constantly evolving constellation of sounds that will take you deep into the universe of the A Major scale.

More Than a Simple A Major Scale Drone Track

The usefulness of this EAPT extends far beyond the practice of scales and arpeggios. It has applications ranging from improvisation to tone development to meditation.

While this EAPT is suitable for all instruments, ages and levels it was originally conceived and tested for stringed instruments.
Please let me know how YOU might use EAPT in your own music practice!

Keeping Your Violin Practice Private

I often hear from violinists who aren’t interested in public performance or taking live violin lessons. And that’s OK.

Not every violin journey needs to be public. For many violinists, the practice will be purely personal. There is no unwritten rule that you must share your violin playing with family, friends or anyone at all.

If this feels like you, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. This particular path is just right for your life at this point in time. It is equally powerful, perhaps more so, than a similar journey traveled in public.

True, for some, conquering your personal demons is a path to personal growth, but for others public performance is nothing more than an ego building device.

The art of violin practice is more than just musical. It’s all about being in touch with your deepest motivations, fears and aspirations.

Everyone’s violin journey looks similar from the outside. When you go a little deeper and you’ll find that we all have a unique, personal relationship with our practice. Like snowflakes, no two practices are alike.

The most important thing is to really feel deeply what the violin brings to your life. This feeling doesn’t require words, but it does require that you are fully present for your practice.

Before you grab your violin to play, sit and take a quiet moment to notice the underlying emotion behind your violin practice. What is the dominant feeling in this moment? No need to analyze or think it through. Just breathe smoothly and stay with it for a few minutes; give the underlying emotion enough time to process. Stay aware and you’ll get a signal when it’s time to start.

Making this a daily part of your violin practice will improve the quality of your work, perhaps far more than volumes of scales and etudes.

Eventually you’ll realize that this short “meditation” is perhaps the most useful and and enjoyable part of your practice routine. This is why I’ve included meditations in my online training programs, including the Ultimate Violin Vibrato Workshop. I’ve had several students tell me they love this part of the program!

Whether your violin journey is in public, or fully private, a beautiful vibrato will enhance your enjoyment and will promote relaxation in your hands.

You can experience this for yourself:

>>>Download Step by Step Violin Vibrato Tutorial

Whether you play for one or a million, your violin practice is yours alone. Savor the journey!

~Bill (sitting-on-a-yoga-mat-and-burning-incense) Alpert

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