You probably think of playing the violin as a creative and artistic activity. And so it should be.
Yet practicing the violin is as much about being methodical and organized as it is creative.
If you want to slow your practice results to a crawl, simply spend your practice time with and ad-hoc, touchy-feely-right-brain-only approach. Similarly, robotically repeating a song or musical passage with the hope that it “gets better” falls into this category.
In contrast, the greatest musicians (the players you truly admire) all share a common trait: when it comes to practice, they are consistently well organized and highly flexible.
In fact, the world’s most “talented” violinists have a knack for organizing their work super effectively. They gravitate toward these more efficient working strategies almost by second nature.
For the rest of us mere violin mortals, we can learn from the best in the business by modeling a few simple practice room strategies.
Here is my “top six” list of practice hacks.
- Divide your practice session into logical categories. In my case there’s a physical/mental warmup section, a technique building module and a repertoire building area (and a couple of others) all wrapped into a single practice session.
- Journal your work. The extra moments it takes to make notes during your practice session will save countless hours of wasted effort.
- Monitor your moment by moment mental state. If you find yourself overworking, striving or obsessing, it’s time to take a break and regroup.
- Use a session To-Do list rather than relying upon your memory to move between the various portions of your practice. I actually use a task management software program on my computer.
- Utilize proven physical and mental tactics. When I want to improve any element of my playing, I attack it from a variety of differing angles, looking for the most effective approach. Put these tactics on a special page of your practice journal.
- Frame your work in a context that relates to the the upcoming performance of whatever you’re playing. Said differently: you’re not practicing for the abstract. Create something that will work in the heat of the moment.
Clearly, this list covers a lot of ground. I could write a whole book on each item. Yet, I hope it gives you a flavor for what great practice really looks and feels like in 2019 and beyond.
If you’d like to use these ideas in your own practice, stay tuned!
And: If you’re not already an InvincibleViolinist member, sign up here. I’ll be expounding more on each of these items during the course of the year. As a member, you’ll receive an update whenever I add a new blog.
May 2019 bring you your most joyful and productive violin growth ever!
~ Bill Alpert