What To Do if You are Practicing Hard, but Your Playing Only (seems to) Get Worse?

by | Nov 6, 2013 | Practice Tips | 2 comments

How frustrating is it when you are practicing the violin or viola very hard… but the results are not there… even worse: your violin or viola playing seems to get worse.

Sometimes you’ve been practicing for some time, but your playing only seems to get worse!

For example, a few summers ago I was practicing for five hours a day, but I was only getting further away from my goals and how I wanted to play. This was very frustrating, and I thought I had maybe reached the top of my playing capabilities. Of course, I later found out that this wasn’t true. But how is it possible that you practice and get worse? There are three things I want to share with you about this topic:


  1. First you need to understand something about the development in your level of hearing and the level of playing. You always have to know and hear something before you can play it. So, your playing will never go further than what you are able to hear. You need to hear it, so you can improve it. This explains why you feel like you’re not improving: you’re improving your hearing first. This has the effect that you hear more things going wrong and it feels like a slow process while your playing skill is catching up with your new hearing skills.


  1. The second thing you need to know is about the learning curve. The learning curve applies to all learning, so also to learning to play the violin. This learning curve is not a straight upwards line. It’s a line with curves and ups and downs. You go a few steps forward and a few steps back, but you ARE making progress. It’s just unpredictable progress.


  1. Lastly, you are learning on a conscious and subconscious level. When you’re learning to master playing the violin, or any instrument, the knowledge has to be processed at the subconscious level. So, when you feel like you’re learning nothing, maybe your mind is preparing for its next learning leap.


So, don’t lose your confidence, you are making progress. Hopefully this video gives you more understanding of how exactly.



Is this video useful to you? Please let me know in the comments!




PS: Do you have questions for me on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below!


  1. Helen

    Thank you for sharing this. I have only been playing for less than a year, but already the “catching up on the hearing development” has tripped me up several times. Makes me think I’m hopeless and not cut out for this.

    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Helen, please know that a year is nothing in violin playing. It’s a long journey, but everything is learnable.


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