“The technique of practicing is more important than the practicing of technique”
So many people focus on how many hours a violinist should practice…
What matters most is HOW you practice on the violin!
Practicing for many hours can be useless or even counterproductive when you’re doing it wrong.
1) Align scales, etudes and pieces
A lot of people play random scales by routine or they practice etudes in the sequence of the etude book. In this way you can get confused between different keys and you can’t apply what you learn in your etude.
The scales and etudes you practice should support the pieces you are currently working on.
In the scales you get familiar with the key of the piece on the violin. Also you can practice bowing techniques that you need in the piece. Etudes are very useful when you pick an etude in which you practice a technique you need in the piece you play. Identify what’s difficult for you in the repertoire you play and search for an etude that focusses on this technique. Each etude serves a certain ‘purpose’.
In this way the different parts of your practice session benefit each other. Also you’ll feel that your scale and etude practice is more useful and you’ll be more motivated to study them. This is what I call a ‘practice package’.
2) Don’t play through the piece
Certainly beginner violinists play through a piece three times and call this practicing. Actually practicing is picking out the difficult spots, analyze what goes wrong and practice what you need to learn to be able to play it. This is what I call ‘zoom in, zoom out’ or the ‘whole parts whole’ method. First play through to identify what you need to practice on, practice those difficult spots and zoom out again to see if the bits fit in. During a practice session you repeat this process several times. In this way you really tackle your mistakes.
3) Analyze your mistakes
Don’t beat yourself up and don’t get frustrated. Use your mistakes as a source of information. This also means you shouldn’t ignore your mistakes and hope they’ll magically disappear as you play through the piece another time. When you notice a mistake, stop. You are not on stage: you are practicing. Playing in your practice room should be different from playing on stage. When you make a mistake on stage, use your best poker face and continue as if nothing happens. When you do that while practicing, you’ll only repeat your mistakes and automate them.
Ask yourself in a patient and loving way: What went wrong?
Was the fingering a bit unhandy? Should you change the bowing? Or should you practice this bowing technique in an etude? Are you feeling a bit lost in the key and should you practice some scales? Can you practice some rhythmical variations to make that fast run easier?
You should be interested in finding a solution. Be curious and enjoy the process of finding out how you can improve!
Click here to watch more free violin lessons about practicing!
Now I’d like to hear from you!
What is the biggest insight you got from this video? Is there a golden practice tip that benefits you and that you would like to share? Leave a comment below!