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V.com weekend vote: Does a violin lesson count as a practice session?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: December 13, 2013 at 6:46 PM [UTC]

Let's say you, or your student, has a practice goal, and let's make it an ambitious one: Practicing every day, for 365 days.

As every one of us knows all too well, life interferes with practice, and not all days afford us the kind of time we'd like, in order to get everything completed on the practice list. I go back and forth on the issue of whether or not the lesson on lesson day counts as a practice session! For my students, ideally, I'd like them to go home after their lessons and practice, while my instructions to them are fresh. At the same time, if it's Wednesday, and one of my students has school all day, a term paper due tomorrow and track practice after his violin lesson, do I ding him for not practicing, in addition to the lesson, on Wednesday?

But, if we always count the violin lesson as a practice session, then that erases 52 practice sessions a year that could have happened on the lesson day.

I don't see how we can sometimes count the lesson as "practicing," and sometimes not count it.

Hmmmm! What do you think?


From Eugenia Fielding
Posted on December 13, 2013 at 7:25 PM
I know this sounds dorky, but I couldn't wait to get home and work on what my teacher told me in my lessons. One teacher in particular- he was that inspiring.

From 50.188.131.37
Posted on December 13, 2013 at 8:55 PM
Lessons do count because you are working on improving your violin playing. How is it not practicing?

Does learning not count as practicing? Is learning a new piece at home practicing? Or do you only count repetitions of tricky shifts?

I guess it depends on your definition of what constitutes 'practicing'. :) For me, lessons are similar to my own practice sessions, just a whole lot shorter. I do think that practicing after a lesson is very important but that doesn't mean that the lesson isn't practicing.

From Nairobi Young
Posted on December 13, 2013 at 9:01 PM
My lessons are anywhere from 1 and a half to two hours starting at 5:30 pm. We do some intense things during the lesson so I'm most of the time I'm exhausted afterwards
From Steve Reizes
Posted on December 14, 2013 at 12:09 AM
Shouldn't but it does, partly because it is in the same timeslot on my schedule.
From Mark Roberts
Posted on December 14, 2013 at 12:51 AM
what about rehearsals - do they count as practice?

From 142.32.208.226
Posted on December 14, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Each practice session without a teacher is a lesson self-taught; each lesson is a guided practice. The line between lesson and practice is blurry: Practice is not about how much time we put in but it's more about quality. A good practice session includes a lot of understanding, such as, figuring out how to tackle the tricky parts we are working on, fine tuning a well-prepared work, correct some overlooked bad habits, etc. Don't all these look like what we do during a good lession? If so, then it makes sense to see a good lesson is also a guided good practice session.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on December 14, 2013 at 1:01 AM
Each practice session without a teacher is a lesson self-taught; each lesson is a guided practice. The line between lesson and practice is blurry: Practice is not about how much time we put in but it's more about quality. And good practice includes a lot of understanding such as figuring out how to tackle the tricky parts we are working on, fine tuning a well-prepared work, correct some overlooked bad habits, etc. Don’t all these look like what we get in a good lesson? If so, then it makes sense to see a good lesson is also a guided practice session.

I think rehearsal can be good and bad practice, depending on the group and how we play.

From Kevin Keating
Posted on December 14, 2013 at 4:22 AM
A practice is a practice, a lesson is a lesson. If you have a long lesson it's ok to skip practice. But a lesson is not practice. My opinion anyway.
From Polly Butler
Posted on December 14, 2013 at 2:15 PM
Perhaps for young students, since a lot of the lesson is repetition and learning how to practice, counting the lesson as practice time and allowing themselves the freedom to not practice that day after working so hard at lessons is fine.

But for me, I actually usually practice the hardest on my lesson day, kind of....cramming, I guess. However, due to my lessons being later in the day, my schedule from that point on, and mental difficulties(if I practice after 8 at night, my brain continues to practice as I'm trying to fall asleep. It's really weird and very annoying when at midnight on a weeknight I'm still "practicing" that particular shift or thinking through my bow technique!)I do not always practice afterwards, though when I do, I may tend to accomplish a little more.

Really interesting question!

From Laura Lyon
Posted on December 14, 2013 at 3:51 PM
While I am definitely playing during my lesson and doing it with excellent guidance and correction from my teacher, there is also a large portion of it that is spent in conversation with my instructor or observing her demonstrate an idea on her own instrument. So the actual time I am playing is not the entire hour. Since I normally practice for an absolute minimum of one hour and actually typically play one and a half to two hours daily, an hour in the lesson environment doesn't meet my normal practice time commitments anyways. I will say though that my practice session the evening after my morning lesson, is often shorter than normal (one hour) and focused on doing a first look at the new work assigned that morning and/or items to be addressed specifically. It reinforces the work ahead for the week while it is fresh on my mind. To be honest, I am always anxious to dig into it anyways so I would be hard pressed to not practice.
From Kate Little
Posted on December 15, 2013 at 5:14 AM
For me, practice is practice, lessons are lessons, and rehearsals are rehearsals. Each is time on the violin, and brings improvement, but each has different structures and goals, so I count them differently.
From 98.127.98.6
Posted on December 15, 2013 at 8:35 PM
This reminds me of something that was pointed out once where the question was the difference between philosophy and psychology. For one thing the two are separated at least in words; a)Lesson, b) Practice. And each has definite boundaries that separate the two yet at the same time they both cross over into one another. Too keep this simple, during practice we often "learn a lesson(s) just as during lessons we "practice" repetition for emphasis to learn the lesson(s) and also 'rehearse' the 'practice' to set firmly the "lesson". I hope that this makes since? Here I am dealing with where the two cross over, not the definitions which set them apart. I chose to go only this far to see what the opinions are and hope that this topic may carry over and continue on the other levels.
Thanks for your time,
keep the hair on the ropes,
Royce
From Royce Faina
Posted on December 15, 2013 at 8:38 PM
This reminds me of something that was pointed out once where the question was the difference between philosophy and psychology. For one thing the two are separated at least in words; a)Lesson, b) Practice. And each has definite boundaries that separate the two yet at the same time they both cross over into one another. Too keep this simple, during practice we often "learn a lesson(s) just as during lessons we "practice" repetition for emphasis to learn the lesson(s) and also 'rehearse' the 'practice' to set firmly the "lesson". I hope that this makes since? Here I am dealing with where the two cross over, not the definitions which set them apart. I chose to go only this far to see what the opinions are and hope that this topic may carry over and continue on the other levels.
Thanks for your time,
keep the hair on the ropes,
Royce
From 69.130.134.163
Posted on December 15, 2013 at 9:57 PM
I like Eugenia's comment. I'm exactly the same way. My violinist friends have always been amazed and a little jealous about how well I can progress. It's that extra practice session, and the motivation to practice with new goals for the next week.
From Jeremy Morris
Posted on December 16, 2013 at 11:37 AM
I am an amateur musician and a teacher of French and German. I expect my pupils to learn their verbs, vocabulary and consolidate their knowledge outwith lesson-time. They should also stay a chapter ahead of me when reading a novel, for example. That way, when they come to lessons, we are breaking new ground: new grammar, new constructions, fresh insights. I would not be doing my job properly, nor they theirs, if we merely rehearsed what should already be familiar. Lessons do involve some "warm-up" time, granted, but seldom are they the same as prep, homework or "practice".
From 74.83.81.138
Posted on December 16, 2013 at 2:49 PM
In every endeavor that has been studied by psychologists, the data suggest that practicing x-days in a row without missing is probably not a positive goal. Especially with activities involving muscle memory, the brain needs breaks to consolidate learning and break bad tendencies. Ask yourself this. Have you ever taken a day off, and then found you have made some type of advance on the following day? It is a common effect. Forcing yourself not to practice for a day every couple weeks may facilitate the learning process.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on December 16, 2013 at 6:26 PM
"In every endeavor that has been studied by psychologists, the data suggest that practicing x-days in a row without missing is probably not a positive goal" -- unless you give me an actually study that shows such a thing, I simply don't buy it. Daily practice is not an excessive goal, and night's rest is usually enough time to assimilate the accomplishments of a practice session. Now, if you are practicing six to eight hours a day, you might be taxing the mind and body too much and reaching a point of diminishing returns. But most people have problems with practicing too seldom, not too often!
From Laura Mozena
Posted on December 17, 2013 at 2:44 AM
I think that there may be cases where a break from a particular practice session may be helpful. Even playing something else momentarily can help gain a new view on a certain technique. But I haven't met anyone who practiced TOO many days in a row. ;-) I think that a lesson does not count as practice. I work with each of my students to help them learn what steps to take and what to do at home. I don't spend entire lessons practicing (repeating tricky passages, working on memorization etc.) because that is not how I can be most helpful. I guess its like that "teach a man to fish" saying. "Practice with a student, help them have a one hour good practice session, teach a student to practice, help them have many good practice sessions at home".

Laura M.
Suzuki Violin

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