Category Archives for Quick Violin Practice Hacks

Keep a Journal for Your Violin Practice

I’ve talked about this for the longest time. I’ve done it off and on. But not until this became a daily practice, did I realize how much better it made my practice time.

Why journal, when you really just want to practice? In the moment it often feels like a waste of time and a distraction from the task at hand. But… when enough of these journaling moments are strung together you begin to realize the following:

  1. How much time you lost/wasted because you left out journaling
  2. How much more efficient (faster) you become at getting from point A to B.
  3. How much clarity you gain from the act of seeing your efforts on paper.

I won’t belabor the reasons to journal. If the above three points aren’t compelling for you, you are just dabbling in the violin. Whether pro or amateur, a real violinist shows up regularly, and brings crystal clear focus to her work. It is the difference between a wonderful lifelong journey with our magnificent instrument and simply being the owner of a violin shaped object that will ultimately end up collecting dust in the corner of a closet.

A violin journal can/should be structured according to your particular needs. Here I will share what I keep track of in my journal:

  • Current musical and technical goals, updated regularly. Include performance opportunities and dates.
  • A “setlist” of my practice time, the pieces, etudes and scales that I incorporate in my session
  • Notes alongside the setlist that remind what/how I did last and what’s next for each setlist entry
  • Audio and Video entries that help me self-assess and track my progress over time.
  • For performance pieces, an annotated extra copy of the sheet music with free form ideas, sketches, descriptions, etc. that encapsulate my ideas about the piece.
  • Notes from your teacher/coach

If you have ambitious performance goals, spend more time on journaling. If you’re on a basic course of study, the journal can be quite simple.

Bottom line: if you care, keep a journal. Keep it fresh. Make it real and make it useful. And enjoy your violin journey!

 

 

 

How to Practice Music When the Results Really Matter

  1. Resist the urge to ad lib your practice. Instead set the intention that it is a fully planned project with benchmarks and specific, measurable goals.
  2. Realize that the project is your responsibility, that you won’t depend on a teacher, coach or anyone else for results.
  3. Write it all down in a short practice project document. The final goal, the estimated timeline, the benchmarks along the way.
  4. Read your practice document before you begin each practice session. 
  5. While you practice, add simple notes to your document. Specific practice strategies, any helpful notes, and percentage of completion toward benchmarks and final goals.
  6. Build in some slack. Allow more time than you think you need at the beginning, it feels much better to finish early. Falling behind feels like failure.
  7. Be obsessive about defining goals and objectives in great detail. Without this, you’ll never be sure when your project is complete.
  8. When it’s time, move on rather than seeking perfection. But take the time to write down exactly what worked and what didn’t. So next time you’ll be able to move the project further and your playing will get stronger.

 

How to Get Unstuck on Your Violin Music

Do you have a dozen half-baked projects on your music stands?

What about those violin songs or pieces you’ve been practicing for weeks, months or even years, but you still don’t have much to show for your work?

Here are a few suggestions to spur your motivation, speed your progress and get unstuck on your violin music:

1. Work with a coach, teacher or other accountability partner. During and after the move of my violin studio to Morro Bay, CA, I’ve had a bit of logistical down time. I’ve booked some lessons with a coach to get things back on track. (Yes, even seasoned players need to mentor with others from time to time). There is no way I’ll go into my coaching sessions less than prepared. And I’ll bet this will work for you too.

2. Calendar a performance date for your music. Knowing that a performance or audition is imminent will often be a powerful kick in the pants.

3. Build one or more small footholds for each practice session. Human beings generally avoid tackling large projects. But the ability to complete a series of small goals is easily available to any level of player. For example, my coach asked me to prepare a Kreutzer etude. So I’m completing a foothold or two a day on Kreutzer #12 as follows:

  1. Play the etude slowly, to identify and mark a red X on any measures that are most likely to contain pitch problems.
  2. For each subject measure that contains pitch problems, identify the probable cause of the problem and one or more solutions. Complete at least 2 or 3 of these in each practice session.
  3. Choose one or more problem measures per day, select and implement the best solution.
  4. Identify tone and rhythm problems across bar lines. For example, can I maintain great tone and rhythm when playing measure one, and then maintain that level of polish while I transition to measure 2.
  5. Link increasingly longer segments of music. Start with 2 bars, and expand to a whole section or phrase of the etude.
  6. Video record my self playing an eight bar section of the etude at performance level.

And so forth. Depending on the challenge in front of you, more or less structure can be added to your practice session. As I complete each foothold, my progress is constant and obvious! Each day, I ascend the mountain one step at a time, and soon it begins to look like a mole hill. The key is to plan your practice in detail, write down the steps and check them off as they are completed.

Your transformation: Working within this structure is transformative! It seems like more work, but it’s actually more fun. It works for violin practice, and equally well for just about any other large goal that you could consider.

 

Learn the Violin in 5 Minutes – The 5 Minute Bow Stroke

Violin Practice Hack: The 5 Minute Bow Stroke demonstrated by Dr. David Wallace
Level: Novice to Expert

Got only 5 minutes to instantly grow your technique?

This Learn the Violin in 5 Minutes
practice hack is just the ticket.
Dr. David Wallace explains this powerful practice hack as it was originally taught by the famous pedagogue and perfumer, Josef Gingold.

Bonus Benefit: Do this just before walking on stage to perform and you’ll be amazed at how it can reduce or eliminate your stage fright.

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