How did you use your time when you were in high school?Life in general: An arts high school student who has a very hectic schedule every single day, and cannot afford any energy nor time to an efficient practice. Any suggestions of how others used their time in high school?
From Cindy Ahn
From Betsey KarakoWhat's really been working for me lately has been to take my violin everywhere with me, and even if I have just 20 minutes or so, to take it out and pick one thing to practice. If I am really focused during those 20 minutes, and make sure I'm practicing it as efficiently as possible, it is very surprising how much I can get done during the day. 20 minute segments do add up quickly.
Posted on April 6, 2012 at 08:09 PM
My brother uses a technique for his homework, in that he sets a timer for 25 minutes and works on homework, and then takes a 5 minute break. You could maybe apply that in your practicing.
And always, always be looking for ways to practice more and more efficiently. Instead of playing something through all the way and going back and fixing things, find a spot that you normally have trouble with and just practice that one spot. Sometimes I spend all of my 20 minutes on 1-2 bars, but after that 20 minutes I have them rock-solid.
Good luck in your practicing!!
From Cindy AhnThank you so much for your suggestion!!I think I will use your brother's homework technique, and try to spend less energy from my homework :)
Posted on April 7, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Thanks so much~~
From Karen AllendoerferI did a lot of stuff early in the morning. It's been a while since high school, but I do remember that I practiced for 20-30 minutes in the morning, starting around 6:30 am, before I came downstairs to breakfast. I had orchestra first thing (it started at 7:45 am), so I was kind of warmed up, or at least thinking about the pieces when I got there. Then I did other practicing in the evening after school.
Posted on April 7, 2012 at 11:12 AM
I was on swim team also and during the swim season I went to a morning swim practice during this time (before orchestra) instead.
In college I wasn't really a morning person, but now that I'm an adult and have kids I've reverted back to that schedule, and I find that I'm much fresher in the morning and can get done in 20-30 minutes what would take me an hour or more if I had to do it in the evening after getting home after a long workday.
From Tom HolzmanI agree with Karen. Early morning is a good practice time. Good luck juggling it all!
Posted on April 7, 2012 at 11:53 AM
From Tim MaynardGive yourself a schedule and stick to it. Your mind will be more alert if you don't stay on one task for too long. For example: Practice 40 min; homework 15 min; Practice 30 min; homework 15 min; practice 20 min; homework 15 min; practice 15 min; homework until finished. Use a timer and don't go overtime. You'll get a feel for how to make the best use of the smaller intervals.
Posted on April 7, 2012 at 02:45 PM
That's an hour and 45 minutes of practice which I am certain will accomplish more than 2 1/2 hours of constant playing. Same goes for the homework. You'll stay sharper and get more work done in that hour than you would have otherwise. Try it for a week or two and you'll feel the difference.
Also make an investment in some down time over the holiday weekend. It will pay dividends.
From Sander MarcusI wrote an article (a long time ago, 1976) that was published in a music journal ("The Instrumentalist").
Posted on April 7, 2012 at 02:52 PM
This little technique got me and my violin technique through graduate school when I had minimal time, energy, and interest in daily practice. Take a look -
Hope that helps.
From Sue BechlerDo you have ideas of what you want to do post-high school? HS guidance tends to push able students into the hardest curricular tracks in every subject, but this isn't necessarily appropriate. You shouldn't limit your college & career ideas, but you can start to tailor them. If you know you want med school, perhaps do the hardest sciences,and take Latin if your school offers it, but maybe not French. Don't do honors-everything in course strands that don't apply. Course choice can work against you when you are older. I took advanced sciences and maths (years ago), ended up going to music college, where my HS transcript pushed me into calculus with math majors/whizzes while many music classmates took basic alegbra or teaching-arithmetic-to-primary-students :( and other similar examples. Sue
Posted on April 8, 2012 at 12:35 PM
From Paul DeckYou have migraines and you passed out? Cindy, your health is in serious jeopardy. You need a full medical checkup immediately, you cannot assume these problems are due to lack of rest. If you ruin your health, then where will your career be? And it's hard to imagine the quality of your practice time is much good when you are so tired. Make sure also that your diet is good and that you drink a lot of water and milk (and stay away from coffee and sugary soft drinks, they are poisons for a young person).
Posted on April 8, 2012 at 03:06 PM
If there are gaps during the day that you can use, even 15 minutes at a time, these can be used for "non-instrument practice" (keep a few scores in your pack) which I have found useful for memorizing especially.
From Kristian RerethI have to agree with Paul here, passing out and being tired all the time is not okay at all. The first thing I suggest is that you try and go to bed earlier. Instead of working until two in the morning you just go to sleep around midnight, even though you are not finished with your homework. The next day you will feel a lot more rested and you will be able to do your homework more efficiently without being tired all the time. Ask yourself: When you work until 2 or 3 in the morning, do you really achieve something worthwhile considering the hours you put into it?
Posted on April 8, 2012 at 11:49 PM
The next thing to consider is the way you prepare for doing work and learning. Before you start working you stop and take at least a few minutes time to ask yourself: What do I want/need to learn now, can I achieve this within the next x hours, why do I learn this etc. Just make sure you know exactly WHAT your goal is and HOW you will achieve it. Do this for everything you learn, for school, the violin,... Years ago I worked late-night like you do now. Now I apply the (approximately) 20%-rule: I take 20% of my available learning-time to prepare and make a plan in my mind (or even write it down).
There is one other thing I like you to consider: Look at your schedule. Are there any days where you waste minutes or even hours listening to something boring? Bring other learning material that you can do within this time, be prepared for that. I made the mistake to just sit and listen to boring stuff. In the end, I had to learn it twice nevertheless, because I did not remember anything from the boring lesson.
This is the basic stuff that you might do already. I have a lot of other suggestions if you want to hear them. But I want to be sure that you do the three things I suggested before moving on. By the way: If you do not want to do something at all, leave it alone and try to improvise. A few mistakes are allowed, no need to do very well everywhere.
From Caitlin BrownI'm also a high school student... Honors and AP classes along with Band and Orchestra. Over the summer, I started to find myself about to pass out as well, and I think it was because I pushed myself so much without any water. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated, even if you don't feel like you need it. It can also help clear your head so you can focus again.
Posted on April 9, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Also maybe if you always practice standing up, take a seat and practice for a few minutes. I know I used to lock my knees after standing for long periods of time, which made me lightheaded.
Finally, I don't know how this will go over at your school, but maybe find someplace to practice or do homework during lunch. I end up doing most of my practice at school now.
Hope this helps.
From Steve RavagniIt’s really tough when you want to accomplish so much and can only perceive a short amount of time to get it done. Cindy, life is a marathon (hopefully), not a sprint. I would look very carefully at the things you need to accomplish before HS graduation, as opposed to the things you might want to accomplish.
Posted on April 9, 2012 at 01:24 AM
On occasion you might find that you can postpone some of the “wants” and open up more time for the “needs”. It’s not always easy pinpointing the things that will benefit us in the future, especially when we are younger. Good grades going into college are important. Focusing on the HS classes that will benefit your college class load should be an important consideration. Making sure you are healthy and ready for the rigors of college is paramount.
Make sure you are in control of the issues that are causing you stress, both physical and mental. As a young person I had several adults pushing and pulling me in different directions. It wasn’t until I decided that it was my future, and I needed to be planning it, that things started to get better. I emphasize started to get better. I really felt that if I was going to burn out, I’d have no one to blame but myself.
Consequently, I found that I had some inner resolve that I previously did not know I possessed. That epiphany gave me the perspective to carry on in my own way. I was more able to intelligently discuss my future with my parents, my coaches, instructors, councilors, and teachers. The emotion was not so near the surface and I could see things from a more practical view point.
Here are a couple of tools that worked great for me. One is meditation. I didn’t come by it until a little later in life, but I wish I would have started earlier. Here’s a secret, it’s great for reducing the frequency and severity of migraines (mine finally went away altogether). Twenty minutes and you’re recharged. Number two is to learn, or at least look at, something different/ differently everyday. The introduction of “new” is a great way to keep the future in perspective and everyday will contain at least one learning experience.
Remember; the path may be narrow, yet it is traverseable. You will never regret giving yourself the gift of music. Good luck on your journey.
From Paul Deck@Steve, thanks for mentioning meditation. By far the best book that I have read on this subject is "The Secret Path" by Paul Brunton. In addition to serving as a how-to guide it is also a literary effort in its own right.
Posted on April 9, 2012 at 03:01 AM
From Simon StreuffI didn't read all here, but lots of good things:
Posted on April 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM
-Practice small intervals
-take your violin with you all the time
-work in the morning (even if its not long time, it helps alot)
-go swimming or make other sports regularly (will help your stamina)
-drink a lot! (water, not whisky... and also not cola or limonade too much)
Also I would suggest you to learn to practice mentally, so you can practice, while driving the bus to school or everywhere else. Learn to memorize everything you play and imagining the music, fingerings and bowings. It is not so hard and if you once start it it grows by itself.
Generally I see so many children struggeling with time issues during the school. After school they immediately start to study and the time issues stay. Then after study the working life begins and time gets money. I always wonder if it is really necessary to have a businessplan for children as if they were machines. i know from myself, that work and education is essential but to really absorb it, you need time. Especially in music stress will not bring you anywhere... musically... technically maybe, but its not about technique if you start disliking music.
From Steve RavagniThis is good stuff folks. Cindy is getting the benefit of us old fogies going before her. It’s reaffirming my belief that there are still good humans out there. And they’re in the music world!
Posted on April 9, 2012 at 05:16 PM
@Paul, the Brunton book is a good one. For first timers I like to recommend “How to Meditate” by Lawrence LeShan. It explains some very basic techniques that are designed to open the window for learning to meditate.
@ Simon, I agree with most of your suggestions. I am a little curious about the fainting thing being not uncommon, especially with girls.
I am in total agreement that young humans should not be pigeon holed into a career path before they are even aware of “career” or what it entails. Cindy will have success with her journey to adulthood. She’s already asking others for advice about her future. As long as she is given the benefit of the doubt that she is her own human and can make good decisions on her way to the future she’ll be fine. It’s not until we are made to be responsible for our decisions that we stop making bad ones.
The mental visualization technique you describe Simon is also a form of meditation. Anytime you mentally contemplate an idea or mechanical process you are meditating. The trick becomes being able to stay on topic, without any other extraneous “noise” coming into the mix. I agree that you can accomplish a lot by practicing between the ears mentally. I also have observed that it’s equally important to stop and smell the roses once in a while.
From Simon Streuffhey, I meant, that when you grow up, you can have some problems because your body is growing and you are under external pressure at the same time. I had some circulation problems between 13 an 17 too. So, I am a guy. But I know that womens body has a lot more complex things to do when growing up and I saw students who had to go out of a orchestra concert, while playing, because they were about to collaps. Always girls. I mean, I am no doctor, I just tell what I see. But I think, that sometimes the masculine body can stand more stress. Plus, that women have a hormone roundabout regularly too.
Posted on April 9, 2012 at 10:49 PM
From M.L. ScottDisclaimer: I'm an amateur and have never been in your situation.
Posted on April 10, 2012 at 04:58 PM
It sounds like there is just too much going on in your life. If you can't get enough sleep, your performance in both academics and music will suffer (as I'm sure you already know).
Since you attend an arts school, surely you are not the only student at the school trying to juggle academic classes and music practice?
I realize it's too late for the curent term, but for next term, does your school have an advisor who can help you set up a class schedule that will allow for reasonable amounts of homework, practice and sleep?
Also, does your violin teacher know the stress you are under? Maybe your teacher can give you some advice for efficient practice, based on what he/she knows about your current skills and goals?
From Marty DaltonI wish I would have spent more time studying while I was in high school. If I had half the brain then that I have now (due to my interest in reading books on many subjects--I never read in high school) I would be in a much better position in life now.
Posted on April 10, 2012 at 05:17 PM
From Cindy AhnThank you everyone for your great suggestions! They helped me a lot and I will take all of your suggestions into account :) Thank you so much!!
Posted on April 11, 2012 at 02:30 AM
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