Having trouble practising more than a certain amount

Edited: November 15, 2017, 4:46 PM · I am a pre-university music student who has recently become much more serious about violin. Of course I enjoyed it before but my passion has grown and I really want to reach new levels with my playing.

I realise it's quality over quantity, but quantity is obviously also important, so I've been trying to work up to about 5 hours per day (from 2 hours which I had been doing before). However, I've been having difficulty getting past 3-4 hours. It's like a mental block or something, and I procrastinate a lot after that point. Does anybody have any ideas as to why this may be happening, and what you would do about it?

Edit: Just to clarify, I do love the violin, I enjoy playing & practising (even scales!) and this is not for a lack of motivation. It just stops coming after a few hours.

Thank you for reading :)

Replies (111)

Edited: November 15, 2017, 3:50 PM · Maybe you could look at parts of your practice that are not efficient rather than extending the length. If your brain is overloaded after a long time, you may not be getting much out of that extra practice time. Getting some exercise or a nap in between sessions might help you get refreshed for another session.

I'm talking to myself now, but pre-planning each session (think notebook) with really specific goals and setting maximums on times that you might practice this or that (so you don't overpractice one thing) might be helpful. Reflecting on what you need to work on before and then checking in at the end and seeing if you met your goals (and if they were actually reasonable goals) can keep you on track.

November 15, 2017, 3:53 PM · Leopold Auer used to say that if you were serious, practice three hours a day; four if you are a little stupid. (He said it, not me.) Anything more than that is wasted time.

Of course he was referring to mindful practice, not repetitions. But still, I think you have set an artificial goal for yourself. Are you making progress with your current amount of practicing? If not, or if not enough, try working on your practice technique before increasing your practice time.

November 15, 2017, 3:53 PM · you could always break it into two practices
November 15, 2017, 3:56 PM · Take breaks whenever your brain feels like it. Practice as much as you need to in order to satisfy yourself, even if it's just 2 hours. Personally, I do not practice a lot (fairly advanced student at the beginning Bach unaccompanied level), but make good progress and get all the work done.
November 15, 2017, 4:45 PM · Thank you all for your helpful tips!

I think by the genius Auer's standards I may be a little stupid - but you make a good point - I will focus on the productivity rather than the length.

I am currently breaking it into several sessions already - as part of the 'digital generation' my body & brain aren't yet used to focusing on one thing for such a long time. Pre-planning sounds like a good strategy for focus.

November 15, 2017, 5:10 PM · The other thing is that you can't go from 2 hours to 5 hours overnight. It just takes a while to build up the stamina. But I agree with the others that 5 hours seems like rather a lot.
Edited: November 15, 2017, 5:48 PM · 3-4 hours/day good practice is a lot. But it maybe helpful to explore this question: What is good practice?

Simply put, it’s the act of forming a habit. Scientists tell us that practice change our brain over time, and that frequent and correct practice will improve our performance because such process leads our neural pathways to work better in unison.

The follow list is incomplete but a start for activities counts as practice:
1. With violin:

• deliberate/mindful practice
• working with pianist
• playing during lessons and masterclasses
• performing
• rehearsal

2. Without violin:

• mental practice
• studying the score
• watch masters playing on YouTube and live performances
• left hand and right hand exercises without the instrument

November 15, 2017, 5:41 PM · I guess I was basing the 5 hour thing on a lot of very, very good violinists in my area who do that much. I'd really like to get to the level of competitions & opportunities they have. I don't mind putting that amount of effort in although it does seem like a lot right now.

Wow thank you Yixi Zhang, that is really helpful. I will definitely be improving the efficiency of my practice with some of those tips.

November 15, 2017, 6:24 PM · At what level are you playing now? How old are you, and how many years have you been studying? What is your goal -- do you hope to become a professional?
November 15, 2017, 6:46 PM · I am 18 and hoping to become a professional orchestral player. I've been playing since I was 7ish but didn't always take it very seriously - had some serious issues with performance anxiety and frequently got discouraged. (This has been sorted out.)

I am currently working on Mendelssohn 1st mvt and some movements from Bach partitas (material for university auditions coming up). My teacher believes this repertoire is within my grasp.

I'm not sure where I fall on the scale, I know there are better & worse violinists of my age but that's about it.

November 15, 2017, 8:50 PM · Break it up into sections, as has been said, and take breaks within those sections.

If you want to practice 5 hours, practice once in the morning (2.5 hours) and once in the evening (2.5 hours). In reality though I'd say maybe use that .5 hours in each session as a chance to take a break. practice an hour then take a half hour break and do something else (If you want to go to school for music, might I recommend theory?) then do the second half.

I wish I had more time to practice, I too enjoy things such as scales. I find if I'm not careful I'll spend too much of my precious practice time on them and end up losing time I could spend on something else.

November 15, 2017, 9:24 PM · Has your teacher told you that your current level of accomplishment makes it very likely that by time you're done with an MM, you still won't have reached the level of someone who's able to get a full-time pro orchestra job?

I'm guessing that your current trajectory takes you to a second-tier conservatory where if you're lucky you'll manage to find an excellent teacher, and work your tail off for four years. Then you'll hope to get into a better graduate school, where once again you will need to be the hardest worker.

The students who are potentially headed for full-time pro orchestra positions probably played a solid Mendelssohn four or five years ago -- or maybe even as 10-year-olds. You have a ton of catch-up to do.

Four hours is a reasonable amount of time to practice each day, if you are fully productive every single minute of those four hours. If you can do more, do more, but you have to work your way up to it gradually, especially since you don't want to injure yourself. Start by ensuring that your baseline 2 hours is 100% productive. Add time in 15 minute increments each day until you hit your target. Don't add time the next day if you weren't able to concentrate fully without getting unduly tired the previous day.

And have a plan for how you intend to use that time. Don't just let time slip past. Read up on effective practicing techniques, including interleaved practice, and make sure that you do your practice that way.

Also, have a plan B for what happens if you don't land a pro orchestra job.

Edited: November 15, 2017, 10:29 PM · With all due respect, that's between me and my teacher, and this question was about practice hours. I have seen you & another person here do this to several other teenagers & I find it completely inappropriate. As an amateur, especially, it's totally out of line.

The students in my city's conservatory (where a lot of the orchestra hails from) are approximately at my level, give or take (with the exception of a few shining stars who really should be somewhere better but can't afford it). There's actually a girl who recently got a permanent job in the orchestra, who first played Mendelssohn at 16 or 17. She's only 21 now. This is a capital city, where 50-100 people turn up to auditions.

I realise you never got to go to a conservatory? I think you may be overestimating what repertoire most first-years are playing.

Edited: November 15, 2017, 10:52 PM · Hey Gemma,

It's hard to fault Lydia's assessment. You know she could be wrong about some of it, we don't know you, but the fact of the matter is to be the 1% you have to work harder than the 99%. That part is hard to argue with. The more vocal members of the community answer the same question week in and week out on this forum - it's hard to blame them if it feels like they're repeating themselves.

No one is saying you can't or shouldn't try, they're just saying to have a plan B, which is smart in any field at any time. All she is saying is that you probably have some catching up to do and that you're going to have to work hard to achieve your goals - advice given in many fields at many times.

Lydia gives one of the softest deliveries of the 'hard news' that you'll find in the musical world :)

I certainly hope you achieve your goals and excel in your field, right to the very top if that's where you want to go. I'm sure no one here wishes anything else for you. They just want to make sure you include the possibility for failure.

Edited: November 15, 2017, 11:02 PM · The thing is, she's not an expert, and a lot of her assessment was inaccurate - the type of thing you read on the internet, not the type of thing you actually observe in real life.

However you spin it, it's cruel and arrogant to tell a young person "you probably won't ever make it", especially when they didn't ask you to make that judgement for them. It's also pretty funny to think I haven't heard this type of thing before. It's drummed into us from the minute we reach our teens - we get it. It's hard to get a job as a violinist. If I wanted to graduate college and land a middle-class job I'd have done a science.

The way you put it, Michael, would've been a lot less condescending... Had I actually asked that question in the first place. To me it seems Lydia has entered this forum, and asked "do you want to be a pro" in the hopes of shooting someone down.

November 15, 2017, 11:34 PM · Actually, I asked about your level and your ambitions because it's relevant to "how much practice is a reasonable amount", and how those hours should be spent. If you had said, for instance, that you wanted to maximize your immediate opportunities to become a better player while you were still a student, but you had no ambitions for a professional career, I'd have said "stop practicing as soon as you can't focus any more, rather than trying to push through". Since you want to go into a performing career, four hours is almost certainly a minimum, rather than a nice-to-have, so you've got to practice as much as possible.

I'm guessing that you're not in the US, and more broadly, you're not somewhere that there's a competitive professional symphony. 50-100 people taking an audition is tiny, by normal international standards; even a freeway philharmonic can see those kinds of numbers in big cities. If that's your situation, then yeah, maybe you don't have to be that good to play professionally. (And in that case I'd expect that English isn't your first language; I wouldn't have guessed that, so congratulations on your excellent command of written English.)

I did not go to conservatory, but that is because I chose not to enter music as a full-time profession. However, I have played professionally in orchestras. I interact routinely with professionals, since I often perform alongside pros. I study with a teacher who prepares students for conservatory auditions and performing careers, and I have a pretty clear idea of what it takes to get into a decent conservatory (both back then and now). And I am quite familiar with the successes and travails of other players I grew up with who did go to conservatory. I'm also confident that when any of the orchestra-playing pros get around to reading this thread, they're almost certain to say the same thing I am.

Around here, in a major US city, I'm adjudicating auditions for middle-school kids who are playing pretty casually, and they are already doing a good job with the major concerto repertoire. And these are kids who aren't dreaming of going into music careers. The 17-year-old conservatory-bound kids are unbelievably good.

I'm not saying these things to crush your dreams. I'm saying that you have a lot of work ahead of you (yes, you really do want to practice that 5 hours a day if you can), and it would probably be smart to have a plan B. But perhaps in your country there's not a competitive standard of playing, in which case you might be just fine as-is.

November 16, 2017, 12:13 AM · I didn't actually ask how much practice is reasonable; just, basically, "how can I practise more".

I am in an English-speaking country, but not the US (and certainly not the East Coast of the US where I'm aware it's quite competitive) so yeah it's a slightly different standard.

November 16, 2017, 12:57 AM · Gemma, I think there are a few things you need to do in order to practice 5 hrs in a day. Time management is one, but you don't seem to concerned by that, so I take that you have plenty of "free" time available, however, if all you have is 5hrs straight, then it's a whole different matter. You can't be fully engaged in constructive practice for 5 hrs non-stop. You need breaks at regular intervals, so you really need 6-7 hrs of available time to get 5hrs of practice. You need to sustain your focus and motivation. That is also difficult to do without breaks. You also need a well structured practice routine, which will help maintain motivation as you won't get tired of doing the same things for too long. Though I don't practice that long (I don't have the time available for one thing), when I see that I lost my focus and I'm getting sloppy, I stop and do something else for a short while like making myself a tea, checking eMails etc., then get back at it. Sticking to your practice routine I think is important (and sometimes not easy to do).
November 16, 2017, 12:58 AM · When I asked something on this forum and experienced members provided their advice for free, then no matter how harsh it seems to be, the first word I would have said is, 'thank you'.
November 16, 2017, 1:26 AM · I do have a fair amount of free time yes. Thank you for the advice, breaks and structure are definitely something I will continue to work on.

Will Willy, perhaps if it had not been completely unsolicited advice, given in a rude and discouraging manner, I may have felt more grateful.

Edited: November 16, 2017, 1:40 AM · What works for me when I have to mentally focus for an extended period is to do something completely different but physical during breaks - for example go for a run outside, or do an hour of yoga, or salsa dance or even take a nap. Something that helps relax and stretch out your muscles and also rests your brain.

B.T.W. I think you are right in your responses to Lydia. Although she does have good advice sometimes, she was out of line in her replies here to you.

November 16, 2017, 2:08 AM · Thank you. Also that sounds like a great idea, I'll try going outside for 10 mins each our or so.
November 16, 2017, 3:23 AM · Practice efficiency, or how to do things with as little time and effort as possible, is certainly a very interesting subject, and one that I’ve been researching for a certain time now.

I’m quite a lazy person, and I don’t like to practice just to put in the time. I always try to find ways to get results faster. Here are some pointers that could be helpful:

-You must be 100% fully present and focused during your practice for it to be most effective. If you find your focus wavering and your attention drifting, it means you should probably take a break.
-Great practice is mentally tiring, so I don’t think one should ever practice more than 5 hours a day, it’s not really mentally possible if you are fully focused. 4 hours is more than enough, if you practice smart.
-Practice smart, not hard. When you encounter a problem, break it down. See what is not working and where. Never fall into doing mindless repetitions.
-Work on fundamentals. Always be improving your knowledge of technique. Keep improving your sound production capabilities. Practice scales. Seek maximum relaxation while playing.
-Lead with music. Always have the end result in mind, and go from there. The question should be ‘What obstacles do I need to overcome to play this piece the way I want it?’. You should only practice as much as is necessary to achieve the desired result.
-Mental practice is underrated. It is actually very effective, especially when in the initial stages of learning a piece.
-Be healthy. Get plenty of sleep, keep your body and mind healthy, and eliminate stress and tensions from your life. The quality of your health directly affects the quality of your playing.

Last but not least:

-Playing well is a mental process, not a physical one. It’s not about muscle memory, or gibberish like that. It’s about the mental picture of the movement in your head. If you can’t play something, it means your mental image is unclear. Start with the mental part first. It will greatly reduce the need for actual physical work.

Of course this is all highly personal, and won’t necessarily work for everyone, but I hope some of it helps!

And rather than step into the debate about wether it is possible for you to get into a professional orchestra, I will leave you with a quote by Henry Ford:

‘If you think you can’t, you are right. If you think you can, you are also right’.

It’s all a question of ambition. Different strokes for different folks. Just don’t let others’ worldviews affect your own.
Now I don’t mean be a selfish arrogant prick, certainly listen to what they say, they have a point. But in the end, if you think you can do it, then just do it, and get the satisfaction of having proven them wrong :p

November 16, 2017, 5:01 AM · Also, https://bulletproofmusician.com/ provides very useful tips on effective, mindful practice and successful performance.
November 16, 2017, 7:31 AM · I agree with Lydia's remarks for the most part, and I have never seen her be rude.

Having been an outlier myself albeit 40 years ago (I should not have gotten into the conservatory I did, and the current me would be very discouraging towards the 16-year-old me regarding the prospects of a professional career), I have some sympathy for the non-star but solidly good student. You're in much better shape than many who ask questions here. But for even the best students, career prospects are uncertain. Winning a job does not actually guarantee that that job will still exist a few years down the road; my own orchestra has been teetering on the brink of disaster for decades and once was dark for an entire season during most of which I had no idea whether my career was over. A Plan B is a good idea, even if (as in my case) the only thing it ever does for you is take some stress off of auditions. Knowing that whatever may happen, you have options beyond living in your parents' basement or starving to death, is a very helpful stress reliever.

Edited: November 16, 2017, 8:30 AM · During a "discussion" some things just happen to follow. Amazing where interest in a conversation can lead. That's why it's called a discussion, "Discussion Forum". I don't think Lydia was being rude. No need to bite at a friendly hand or kick at a volunteer.

A lot of good practice suggestions here. And yeah, to harp on it, I know a lot of people whose Plan A, had gone by the wayside.

November 16, 2017, 8:15 AM · Bulletproof Musician is a fabulous collection of articles, backed by science. The author provides private coaching as well, by the way.

Simon Fischer's "Practice" is also excellent, albeit in a different way; it's more focused on specific, efficient ways to practice certain types of problems.

The conventional wisdom of "technique in the morning, interpretation in the evening" is based in physiology. But the interleaved practice findings suggest very strongly that "all the scales and basics, all at once" approach is probably suboptimal. Keeping your brain alert (which will also probably help your ability to concentrate and practice for longer periods of time) means doing more switching between tasks. Thus, mixing scale exercises (in a variety of keys), other basics, technically difficult repertoire passages, and etudes -- and switching between tasks every few minutes (at least once every 5 minutes) -- should help significantly. The bigger the delta in the two types of tasks, the more you force your brain to wake up and the more you are likely to retain.


November 16, 2017, 8:32 AM · Ivan Galamian and Dorothy Delay prescribed blocks of 60 minutes, with a 10 minute break out of each 60 minutes. Within those 50 minutes, you should have a plan of what you will work on, what problems you plan to solve, and for how long on each section.

Another thing that is often overlooked in long practice sessions and nightly rehearsal schedules is comfort. If you have problem areas in your posture or setup, you will have more physical fatigue. Work to eliminate tension, perfect your posture, and select the appropriate chinrest/shouldrest for your build.

It's not *required* -- but good eating habits, good physical fitness, and core strength can make you more comfortable and support your posture through long practice sessions, rehearsals, and concerts. The violin is a very physical instrument and keeping your body and mind in optimal condition can enhance your physical and mental endurance.

Best of luck in your studies!

Edited: November 16, 2017, 1:04 PM · Dear Gemma, I agree with Mary Ellen. Lydia has never been rude. She is always extremely helpful, fair-minded and tells it as it is. She is generous with her knowledge with saintly patience. Often times the truth someone utters doesn't please our ear so negative reactions are understandable. Part of our growth as a musician and a person is learning to go beyond the façade and identify who are our truly friends. Hopefully, when you go back to reread Lydia's comments at a later time, you'll appreciate how kind and how helpful she is.

In addition to the books others recommended above, I also like The Practice of Practice by Jonathan Harnum.

https://thepracticeofpractice.com/

Edited: November 16, 2017, 2:01 PM · Gemma, there are trolls or rude commenters in most online forums but as far as I know Lydia isn’t such person. IMHO most V.com members more than understand that the moment they say something bad to you, you could shoot them right back in split second as we are just strangers in such an online setting.
Take it easy mate, and I wish you the best with your practice ! :-)

Edit: I don't know Lydia but a quick search of her name on the web is pleasantly surprising.

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/50226-wheres-lydia-leong/

I didn't know you already achieved a celebrity status for your contribution in maestronet two decades ago Lydia. Way to go!

November 16, 2017, 12:47 PM · Gemma, it was not Lydia who was out of line, but you. Sure, it's hard when someone tells an aspiring high-school athlete what it takes to play professional football, but it's good stuff which needs to be taken in.
Edited: November 16, 2017, 1:24 PM · Lydia is a stand-up member of the forum, and I have never known her to be rude -- only helpful. You will find that from many v.commies. I hope you will re-read her messages with that in mind!

Edited: November 16, 2017, 3:09 PM · Thank you everyone for your very valuable advice. This was the kind of thing I was hoping for and am very grateful. Will be reading again in detail & writing everything down.

With regard to the motivation question, I think this may be happening because I'm not used to practising so much. If a runner suddenly runs for 5 hours instead of 2 hours - no matter how much they love running - they will not have the stamina (and will end up injured if not dead). I think this is comparable for music - it takes building up of stamina, as a lot of you have said. I was asking *how* to go about building up that stamina past my current limit.

This will be my final comment on the mini-drama here: I maintain that certain members have taken this forum in a completely uncalled-for direction. This is not out of line for me to say. I will not be told by complete strangers, in an unsolicited manner, that I will "probably never make it anywhere with music", and having consulted both my teacher & my parents (who are full-time musicians in the orchestra) in the last 12 hours or so, I have their backup. It's also clearly a very America-centric view here in terms of standards and atmosphere at conservatories. This is not a fault - just an observation and people may want to keep in mind that they only know their own situation, not everyone else's.

I have found Lydia's comments on my actual question to be helpful, especially on interleaved practice, and am very grateful that so many took the time to help me with my query.

November 16, 2017, 3:58 PM · "I will not be told by complete strangers, in an unsolicited manner, that I will 'probably never make it anywhere with music'"

Nobody has said this. Please reread the comments in question. Lydia said nothing that I haven't said to my very best students.

November 16, 2017, 4:34 PM · Gemma, this is how I read the conversation.

A: I want to practice 5 hours a day but have trouble maintaining my focus and stamina.

B: What's your level, years of practice and goal (before I can give you my advice)?

I'm no friend of Lydia but I didn't find her question totally unsolicited and out of context. A good doctor seeks to know their patients' circumstances before helping them with the best treatment.

You maybe just overthink her advice.

Edited: November 16, 2017, 5:28 PM · For me the short answer to the OP's question is that it is the student's body and brain telling the student that it is now time for rest and recuperation. If the student doesn't take a rest then things will be made unnecessarily difficult - ask any athlete who over-trains.
Edited: November 16, 2017, 5:32 PM · I agree - it's always important to take breaks, especially when trying to build up stamina.
Edited: November 16, 2017, 7:36 PM · This is no grand criticism of Lydia, whose contributions are intelligent and obviously are a result of clear sightedness and I like very much reading her remarks.I will say though, partly because I see it a bit from OP's side (as in I empathise with how she reacted), that one can say pretty much convey a similar message in different ways, some less frightening and more positive than others. When one says second tier conservatory (which sounds a bit elitist and could be interpreted tp be condescending), work your tail off, hardest worker (terms that are very easy to use and remain abstract
decontextualised and needlessly pedantic ......very simply, if the OP loves her studies she will naturally work hard without conceiving of it as being hard)...
I find the OP's point about the lingo that couches a dog-eat-dog morality interesting and possibly pertinent.
Again no offense to Lydia whom I admire as one of the members here whose comments I enjoy
November 17, 2017, 3:11 AM · Mary Ellen, I do the same thing with people who have the notion that they want to be professional violin makers. I wouldn't be doing them a favor at all by leaving them with the belief that making a living at it is easier than it is.
November 17, 2017, 6:57 AM · Exactly. It is a moral issue in my opinion.
Edited: November 17, 2017, 8:20 AM · Reading the original post about her tendency to procrastinate a lot and being of the "digital generation": Gemma, how much of that procrastination is due to your phone or other activities that make it harder to want to return to practicing?

In addition to writing out your goals for each practice segment (along the lines of Christian's suggestion), you can also write out your plans for how you will take a break before returning to practicing.

About the direction of this thread: I agree with Tammuz. One can give practice tips without giving unsolicited opinions about her career goals, even if those comments are true. She was fine with answering the question about what her level and goals were; it was the other stuff that followed that caused her to get upset. If the OP were to ask, "What are my chances?" then yes, it's fair game and moral to tell her a direct opinion. But she has not asked that question here.

Comments like these are neither constructive nor moral advice: "And in that case I'd expect that English isn't your first language; I wouldn't have guessed that, so congratulations on your excellent command of written English."


Edited: November 17, 2017, 9:09 AM · There is a tendency on this forum, especially when it comes to cases of aspiring teenagers, to present the brutal reality of classical music. It is all well intended but it could be done (from the perspective of someone who deals 18/19 years-old undergraduates every day) in a way that is less condescending. They are still kids.

Ironically, there is much more "handholding " when it comes to adult beginners.

Edited to add: Gemma, reaching the level of solo Bach and concertos of the romantic era at 18 is a laudable achievement.

November 17, 2017, 10:07 AM · I agree that the derailment of Gemma's original question was unduly harsh and unnecessary.

Seems to me, whether we are adults or teenagers asking for help, that a lot of folks forget that there IS another person on the other end of the screen reading these things AND that the members of this forum DON'T have to be as cutting (direct, clear) as they are. And really, "our job" here on the forum is to help others when asked, not to crush others. There is a time and a place for everything, yes, but to launch into long posts about how much work someone needs to do after posting a simple question is uncalled for. To think one can be brutal in this way to anyone on the forum is often needlessly condescending, harsh, and disrespectful to the other members (aka people).

Gemma - You have it! You have to gradually work up to a longer and longer session, and only if you are on point the entire session can you move forward otherwise you'll crash and burn. It's similar to working out a tricky passage, if you do not get it 5/5 times, then you cannot move on.

I don't often have the privilege of being able to practice for such long stretches, but when I'm able to I'll practice for about 50 minutes (or until I feel my brain get tired), then I'll break for 10-15, then I'll go at it again. For those long sessions, I feel that mixing the basics, technique, "foundational work" in with rep work to be most helpful in maintaining attention. I typically have a plan in place for what I want to accomplish and then I get to work. I assume that you keep a practice notebook, this helps with maintaining your focus on "what needs to get done today".

Other things to consider are ensuring good light, hydration, and other comforts to keep the body happy. Turn your phone to silent and do not check it while you are practicing. I use mine as a metronome and tuner, but do not open any other apps while practicing. Otherwise, you'll get sucked into spending too much time on FaceBook, Instagram and whatnot. If need be, turn your phone off and put it in another room.

When you take breaks avoid working on the computer or your phone, or reading, anything like that - you need to do something completely different (like putting away laundry, taking a walk, doing yoga, a brief nap, making a cup of tea, getting a snack, etc.) so that you give your brain a chance to decompress. I have an art background and would often have to work for long stretches (often overnight), and feel that this is the best way to stay alert when "working" (practicing) - which many others have mentioned as well.

Another tip: when you feel your focus start to fade in a piece, mark where it happens and where your attention went. It might help to acknowledge that your focus is waning, so that you can redirect it back to the task at hand or acknowledge that you need to take break, are frustrated, bored, etc. Will take a while to build up the resilience to maintain longer and longer and more frequent periods of focus. And, if you are frustrated, stop, take a break, then come back to it at another time.

Hope this helps!

November 17, 2017, 10:25 AM · As a side note, the English bit was genuinely intended to be a compliment. We've got a variety of folks writing here for whom English is not their first language, and when they write well, I generally think they deserve to be complimented on their mastery of the language.

(I am curious what country has English as its native language but does not have Western levels of competitive orchestral playing.)

Edited: November 17, 2017, 11:19 AM · My understanding is that many countries (e.g. Canada, Australia, NZ ) have provisions , formal or informal, that would give priority to local talents in many fields. It is certainly the case in academia. It is likely to be the case in pro orchestras too, but I have no firsthand experience.
November 17, 2017, 11:31 AM · Gemma, it looks like everyone here is rooting for you. I think David Zhang put it better up above than I could think to articulate it. I do appreciate people feeling comfortable to put their opinions out, though, and sometimes a little friction is the price for encouraging a variety of opinions, which is a good for anyone reading.

Anyway, it's good that you are looking at your practice and analyzing how to make it work better for you. I think the more you tailor your practice to how your mind works, the better progress you can expect.

November 17, 2017, 12:11 PM · The OP asked how she can practice longer and harder. Okay even though I'm an amateur I'll try to answer that as directly as possible.

(1) Build up your stamina gradually. Don't try to play 4 hours suddenly when you've only been doing 3. That's a big jump. You wouldn't do metronome work with such jumps. It's really the same with any kind of work, whether physical or mental.
(2) Optimize the rest of your lifestyle toward violin practice, including exercise, eating, and rest, as well as your whole schedule.
(3) Consider some form of meditation to improve the effectiveness of your breaks or down time. Sorry to be making an unsolicited comment here but my general sense is that you have some underlying anxiety that is eroding your general constitution. (If you are 18 and concerned about your future, well, you're in fine company. Looking back I should have been more concerned about my future than I was ... I might have considered my options more carefully.)
(4) Don't allow yourself to agonize over this issue more than twice a week. And never whilst practicing. And don't beat yourself up if improvement is gradual. If you've been studying the violin for 10 years you should be accustomed to that.
(5) Talk to those around you and let them know, as specifically as possible, how they can be supportive of your immediate needs and long-term goals.

I can kind of see why the OP felt that Lydia's comments came at her from out of left field. Gemma is perhaps new to this site and might not know that these threads can take sharp turns without warning.

I also see Tammuz's point -- the nudge to consider one's overall competitiveness could have been "kinder and gentler" rather than so much "tough talk." But ... those of us who have been on this site for a while have been kind of conditioned to understand that "kinder and gentler" usually doesn't get through, and the "tough talk" eventually materializes later in the thread anyway. Might as well get to the point.

But I have to agree that what I've seen is that Mendelssohn and "some solo Bach" at age 18 is a median level for college-bound violinists. (Median isn't very close to 1%). For Lydia to say that the OP has "catching up to do" was actually on the generous side. What's hard to know, however, is how rapidly the OP has developed since she became serious. Estimating her trajectory would depend on that. And of course, it's all just conjecture because we have not heard her play. Maybe her teacher is one of those who only assigns concertos once the student has reached the level that each movement can be learned in two weeks.

Edited: November 17, 2017, 12:33 PM · "Seems to me, whether we are adults or teenagers asking for help, that a lot of folks forget that there IS another person on the other end of the screen reading these things AND that the members of this forum DON'T have to be as cutting (direct, clear) as they are. And really, "our job" here on the forum is to help others when asked, not to crush others. "

Lydia doesn't need my defense. In fact, as far as I'm concerned no defense is necessary when well-intended advice has been received poorly. I think it's unfair to accuse anyone here tries to crush others; i.e., the intention to crush is an unsubstantiated assumption. However, it is fair to prefer one certain way a message is delivered than another. Nevertheless I often wonder, while encouragements make us feel better, in absence of a clear case of abuse, how appropriate it is for us to tell others how to express themselves regardless how the way they see fit. I don't have an answer, but just an uneasy feeling that clearly expressing an honest opinion on this forum can be such a problem.

Here is the thing that I wish many of you would agree, in the real world, especially in the world of music, the ability to take feedback well is essential for success. I've seen some of the most talented young players (the young Canadian international soloist Timmy Chooi for example) could take any severe criticism with a big smile and took it in when he was only 13 and still is now in his early 20s.

I wish the talent I had cultivate sooner in my life is the ability not taking everything personally but focusing on what's really important.

November 17, 2017, 1:28 PM · The thing is though, the context of this particular question did not warrant a critical response vis a vis the way it was delivered (a "reality check").

As stated earlier, I personally went to a very difficult art school wherein one had to be able to take criticism in order to perform/create better and to be able to look at something with a less personal perspective. But, there is a way to deliver that criticism in such a way as to not be condescending or harsh (or in my other words, crushing) - and there was context of the criticisms to be taken into account. In my world, if you ask, "what do you think of my performance?" I/you better be ready to receive whatever criticism that is handed to you, and to be able to work with that productively. However, if asked how to fix a technical issue (in this case: practicing for a longer period of time and efficiently), then going into a diatribe not directly related to the question is off the mark and inappropriate. So, I'm not disagreeing with you entirely Yixi re: being able to take feedback well, I'm simply saying that the context with which the feedback is given is important. In my case, I had to learn how to take criticism, and now -in a way- I thrive on it. It's the only way to improve - but it doesn't make certain aspects of receiving feedback/criticism "easier".

In this instance though, that was not what was asked by the OP and I think that the response given was disproportionately out of line with what the OP asked. If this were a art critique, I'd be saying the same thing.

What is really important in the context of the OPs question? Answering her question - which thankfully a bunch of people have done without veering into tangential territory.

November 17, 2017, 2:08 PM · To come back to practicing, there are many "goals" in a practice session, and it can help to switch goals frequently: e.g. concentrate on tone, then
left-hand articulation, then right hand articulation, then vibrato etc.
Everything is linked, but it can be better to put one aspect to the forefront of our mind,while remainig aware of the other aspects.
November 17, 2017, 2:09 PM · I follow the entire discussion thread and when the OP said: "I'm not sure where I fall on the scale, I know there are better & worse violinists of my age but that's about it.", this suggests to me an invitation for reality check.
Edited: November 17, 2017, 2:41 PM · Frieda Francis, phone isn't really an issue, I think it's just that I'm used to focusing on a million things at the same time so violin for 4+ hours in one day is a bit of a challenge. That was just an idea though, I don't know if my upbringing has anything to do with it. Thanks for your tip about planning practice - actually tried that yesterday and it worked!

Pamela M, thank you for your advice. Especially the point about noting where your concentration wanes - that could be really interesting & help me sort out my practice.

Paul Deck, no offence taken, I do have anxiety & will be looking into those methods. Yes, my teacher does not prescribe repertoire until she feels I can technically, artistically, & emotionally really do a good job (which I find unlikely when it comes to the aforementioned 11-year-olds attempting the piece... but then again, someone 30 years older than me would probably say the same thing about 18-year-olds).

Yixi Zhang, I'm always glad to accept constructive criticism from anybody who I have asked for it, and who has heard me play.

I would like to assure everyone that as the child of two musicians, having accompanied them to job auditions for probably the last 15 years, I know exactly what I'm getting myself into. I have seen countless family friends audition for 10 years and come out jobless. There's a plan B available if that happens to me.

Lydia, I also took the English thing as an intended complement. It didn't seem particularly insulting to me.

November 17, 2017, 2:39 PM · I agree with Yixi. And I'm amazed at the amount of projecting going on here in some of the reactions. Nobody is trying to crush anyone. If you want to see real blunt, possibly hurtful, honesty, just seek out any one of the many threads where a high school student posts that they are playing (for example) Accolay, are first chair in their high school orchestra, and want to go to Juilliard to become a soloist.
November 17, 2017, 2:42 PM · Mary Ellen, I am not against constructive criticism, as long as someone has asked for it & you have a very accurate view of their situation (ideally have heard them play).
November 17, 2017, 2:46 PM · Gemma, have you posted videos of you playing?

And don't worry, once upon a time, when I was about 17, people told me the truth too, and it hurt. So I just became a teacher :) Nothing wrong with that, and I'm pretty good at it.

Edited: November 17, 2017, 2:55 PM · No, there are no videos, and respectfully for the millionth time I did not come here for criticism on my playing or my ability to get into an orchestra.

Edit: Sorry, that sounds a lot snarkier than I intended, I just want to make it very clear.

November 17, 2017, 3:25 PM · Just to be clear, my intended context was twofold: Gemma stated that she wasn't sure how she fell on the comparative scale, and the amount of practice necessary is related to that context. My intent was to convey that she would be looking at a lot of years of practicing more than her peers, and that doing so now would be a good idea. Apparently this was taken more harshly than I intended it.

Returning to the question of practice stamina, I agree with Paul: There's also the question of what else one is doing with one's time. If you have school, extracurriculars, maybe a job, then having the energy -- both physical and mental -- to practice very efficiently, is very hard. If you're doing serious preparation, it often helps to clear the decks of as many other things as possible, so the best part of your day and energy can go towards practice.

Edited: November 17, 2017, 4:32 PM · The reality check from Lydia wasn't necessary, but wasn't totally out of context.

Walking a mile in the OP's shoes I understand her frustration, but really if it were myself I wouldn't be overreacting to the point of considering the commenter as being 'totally out of line', 'completely inappropriate', 'never got to a conservatory', 'not an expert', 'cruel and arrogant', 'condescending', 'shooting someone down', 'unsolicited advice given in a rude and discouraging manner'.

Maybe the OP was sensitive to the impression of some known bullying from V.com 'acclaimed experts' towards younger players. However I hope the OP would give the commenter the benefit of the doubt that her comment was unintentional. If it were myself, I wouldn't be this overreacting even if in an alternate universe, her intention was to discourage me.

Edit: P/S Both the OP and the commenter are stranger to me.

November 17, 2017, 4:37 PM · All those things are true, regardless of the - possibly too angry - way I worded them.

Had I put a video of myself playing and asked "do you think I'm good enough", I could not complain about those sorts of comments being made. However, given what the post was about, I do maintain that the reaction from some members was inappropriate.

November 17, 2017, 4:49 PM · Gemma, I only asked about a video because you said:

"Mary Ellen, I am not against constructive criticism, as long as someone has asked for it & you have a very accurate view of their situation (ideally have heard them play)."

But we can't hear you play without a video :)

I've been posting videos of myself lately. It's actually pretty handy even if it is discouraging.

November 17, 2017, 4:51 PM · Gemma, had you better expressed your disapproval of the commenter, I believe you could have won a lot more support.
November 17, 2017, 4:55 PM · It's not in the numbers, it's who is correct.
November 17, 2017, 5:02 PM · Alright gang, I think we've squeezed all the juice out of this horse.
November 17, 2017, 5:08 PM · Christian, I'm offended by your calling an aspiring young violinist a horse.
November 17, 2017, 6:35 PM · Juicing horses is a very ..... niche .... hobby.
Edited: November 17, 2017, 7:23 PM · Its one think to give a grounded direct applicable criticism (for instance on how to improve a certain technique or practice) Yixi. Its another think to be offering unsolicited advice laden with some moralising (again with all due respect I say that). Gemma is here for support, as we are all in one way or another. It seems like Gemma is an intelligent and applied person who cares and is asking for applicable advice on a certain subject; I do not think that allows one a platform on which to give what is fundementally a sermon on work ethic,on what her chances are for the future, etc. Mary Ellen correctly diagnosed this -positively in her point of view- as something to do with morality, she picked up on the overtones as did David.
But there is no way a suggestion that giving this sermon (im trying to find a more genteel word but my vocabulary fails me) is called for here.
I have quite a seperate view of this, aside from the fact that i think just constructive topical support would be enough. I think that one giving this sermon is, as honest and well meaning as they are, talking more to themselves than to others. Expressing their worldview. This explains the unsolicited part :)

Edited to add: Ill now shut up about this. I felt for Gemma so I said my part. I hope some others (not Lydia who I believe actually means well, when all is said and done) criticizing the OP for being strong and expressing what is relevant to her request or not could offer support instead of criticism.

November 17, 2017, 7:34 PM · Anyone commenting on an internet thread suffers from 'knowitallism,' myself included. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. The hard part is when the original question gets lost in all the posts- do you feel like your question was answered?

My two cents on the actual problem you asked about is this: have very clear goals for practice sessions, not time limits. That could help you keep focused. When I was prepping for college auditions, I wrote out my practice schedules for the week with my teacher. They could change if I needed them to, but it was a general guideline of what I wanted to accomplish. I might have occasionally made a spreadsheet with boxes I could put checkmarks in, because I'm a geek that way. Specific goals have always worked better for me than general times to practice.

This is sort of an example of what I would have done:
Monday
Scale- a maj, arp, 3rds
Sevcik
Etude- fix line 8; whole thing at 120 rpm
Orch music: Piece xxx measure 256-342; mm. 82-120, to 100 bpm
*record self playing solo Bach and concerto and listen*
Bach, intonation mm 60-70; consistent tempo;
Mendelssohn ...you get the idea

etc. etc. etc.

Hope that helps you and good luck.

November 17, 2017, 8:01 PM · I do feel like my question has been answered. In fact, I just completed my 5th hour of practice for the day - thank you again to those who helped!

I am sort of someone who needs time limits, but the goals thing is definitely something that helps as well. Otherwise it ends up being mindless practice and a waste of time.

Edited: November 17, 2017, 9:11 PM · Yay! Brava, Gemma!

There is know-it-all-ism and then there is “I’m-not-good-enough-ism”, as has been pointed out by Jason Haaheim, the principal timpanist of the MET Orchestra in his article “I Don’t Care How Good You Are — I Care About the Trajectory You’re Willing to Set”, which is applicable to all of us who are seriously pursuing our dream. Always take a forward looking and work hard.

@tammuz, since you mentioned my name, I feel I need to respond to you, but honestly, I've made quite a few points and I don't know specifically which one you were referring to. I'm confused.

November 18, 2017, 12:20 AM · 5 hours of practice is crazy. I truly wish I had that sort of discipline.
Edited: November 18, 2017, 11:51 AM · Professionals - and Ardent Amateurs! - often play more than 5 hours a day.
Play, not practice..

I think Auer was right: 3 hours of meaningful practice is enough. (Unless we have a huge amount to learn in a short time.)

Heifetz said something similar.

November 18, 2017, 5:55 AM · Well if you just play you won’t ever get better...

‘There is no stasis. You’re either getting better, or you’re getting worse’

November 18, 2017, 8:16 AM · There's plenty of stasis. Whoever you're quoting, who said there's no stasis, was just trying to say something pithy and quotable. Apparently they succeeded.
November 18, 2017, 8:28 AM · No there isn’t. There is slow progress, or even very slow progress, or slow or very slow decay, but stasis doesn’t exist.
It’s not because you don’t notice it that it doesn’t happen.
November 18, 2017, 8:52 AM · We're just going to have to disagree. If your philosophy makes you feel better, by all means, stick with it.
Edited: November 18, 2017, 9:23 AM · Practicing 5 hours is not that hard if someone is obsessive and determined, and knows how to set goals and practice "smart." External situations like having to play in front of others is another big incentive. I have noticed that after some people get more advanced, it becomes easier to go for longer hours. Partly it's the repertoire demands, but partly it's also that you become far more discerning about your playing and you know how to "teach yourself" when you are very advanced. I think a lot of people at the Mendelssohn level aren't at that point yet, so it can be harder to feel motivated.

November 18, 2017, 9:35 AM · ‘We're just going to have to disagree. If your philosophy makes you feel better, by all means, stick with it.‘

Say you stop playing for 3 days. When you pick up the violin again after those 3 days, will your playing be as good as it was when you stopped?

Edited: November 18, 2017, 10:09 AM · Julie O'Connor above mentioned goal oriented rather than time oriented practice, to which Gemma replied she needed the time limits.

Here are two items you may wish to check out which incorporate both specific goals and time based goal practice.

1. A video of Sassmannhaus on how to practice which incorporates using time based goals and a timer. It is funny but also useful
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr4YljhBGt8

2. On Sassmannhaus' violinmasterclass website under the practice tab, there are some great examples of how to maximize your practice and how to do so using time based goals. http://violinmasterclass.com/


Good luck to you in all your endeavours.

November 18, 2017, 1:03 PM · Gemma, you have my admiration for standing up to the naysayers. Especially as a teenager. Good for you; may that tenacity stand you in good stead.

Yixi, thanks for the link Jason Haaheim's article. It is quite relevant to such discussions, and there are several interesting aspects to it, not least that he managed to become a professional at a point when most would have given up and taken a more lucrative and easier path.

Have you read the book you linked? Have you found it to be helpful for your own advancement? Is "Talent is Overrated" overrated?

To add to Gemma's original question, I would say that doing 5 hours of practice a day is not hard -- if you can find the free time. Working 8 hours a day is a minimum general expectation. Obviously doing 5 hours in addition to a job or studies is a challenge of time and energy management and involves some sacrifice. If the time and general level of energy is available, then it's a matter of being able to direct that energy productively; to have a feedback loop of motivation and accomplishment serving that motivation. It's probably useful to look at how athletes manage their training and energy. Musicians need to understand that they are athletes to some degree, but just as importantly, not.

November 18, 2017, 1:28 PM · J, I’m not sure practicing 8 hours per day would be a very good thing...
There comes a point of mental/physical exhaustion in daily practice.
November 18, 2017, 1:59 PM · Roman, I didn't mean to suggest practicing for 8 hours a day, nor do I have any specific recommendations for longer or shorter periods than the 5 hours being asked about. My reference to 8 hours was as a point about a 'standard' work day in other fields.
Edited: November 18, 2017, 2:43 PM · J Ray, thanks for affirming my belief that Jason Haaheim's article is relevant to and helpful for this thread. Yes, I read Talent is Overrated a long while ago and it did direct me to work on what's productive than worrying about the vague notion of talent or what have you. I believe people have different strengths and if we can focus on finding that in each of us, we can bypass a lot of unnecessary grief and be more productive, and definitely more fun to work and be with.

On a different point, I find your 8 hours working day analogy interesting. However, I've worked in various environments (restaurants, classrooms, hospital, law firms, government offices, etc.) over the years, and my experience has told me that during the 8 hours, there will inevitably a lot of slacking moments. We are told that human attention starts can start to decline as quick as 20 minutes after an intensive task starts. We can keep going during the 8-hour shift but the quality of our attention and efficiency is not something I would want to see in my practice session.

That said, if by 8 hour/day practice it includes many breaks, shift tasks and even change locations, then I would agree that it is a good analogy. When I was in summer music camps or chamber workshop, I could easily be "working" like that fore at least 10 hours/day and without feeling too tired.

November 18, 2017, 2:31 PM · I would recommend Daniel Coyle's book "The Talent Code" to anyone interested in practice and improvement. Similar to "Talent is Overrated".
November 18, 2017, 2:48 PM · I second The Talent Code as well.
November 18, 2017, 5:11 PM · I'm pretty sure as a student, Gemma has a lot more time than someone working 8 hours a day (unless she has a significant part-time job).
November 18, 2017, 5:54 PM · Is there though a risk of burn-out and psychological exaustion over the long run? Of course it depends on the person, but Ive recall reading of young really committed excellent students who practiced a lot.. got to a point where there was a psychological block, an apathey set in and they just stopped to the frustration of the parents. After a long while, they might come back to it with some regret for having dropped it.

November 18, 2017, 7:17 PM · Yeah but wouldn't that also be a risk with 3-4 hours? And if you're doing any less than that, you probably won't make it to professional standard at all. I think a better goal is to learn how to prevent burnout, rather than just do less work.
November 18, 2017, 8:53 PM · I agree with Gabbi. I think this is why it's important to have a teacher who has "been there and done that," i.e., a working pro. Gemma has parents who are musicians too. If she has the kind of relationship with them that allows her to discuss fears, dreams, etc., openly and in plain language, then she is at a huge advantage.
November 18, 2017, 10:43 PM · "I'm pretty sure as a student, Gemma has a lot more time than someone working 8 hours a day (unless she has a significant part-time job)."

I think she's a high school student, but not in the U.S. so I have no idea what kind of time constraints she is under. My best high school students here in Texas are also excellent students academically, and are typically enrolled in whatever pre-AP, AP or dual credit classes are appropriate for their year in school. Add to the heavy academic load the youth orchestra schedule, and maybe one other activity as well (a sport, scouting, debate), and they have a schedule that stresses me out just thinking about it. I don't know how they do it.

November 19, 2017, 6:42 AM · The same qualities that make them good violin students makes them good at everything else. "Good" in this context means efficient, self-motivated, mentally engaged, keen to please their superiors, and a focused, businesslike demeanor. You do see them with their phones, but you don't see them in front of the TV very much. And most importantly, weekends are work days, to catch up on studying, get ahead on projects, etc. They seem so precociously independent, but it's important for parents of these kids (like all parents) to keep an eye on their health and general well being; it's easy to assume things are okay when grades are good and your child is banging out violin concertos one after the other.
Edited: November 19, 2017, 7:19 AM · Roman asked "Say you stop playing for 3 days. When you pick up the violin again after those 3 days, will your playing be as good as it was when you stopped?"

I'm not following that argument, and I don't know what was supposed to be the obvious answer. But a point I would like to make is that the real answer is often counter-intuitive. After a break of not practicing, many of us have the experience of playing better. Certainly because of the time given for muscles to relax and grow, and probably the mind as well.

November 19, 2017, 1:28 PM · J Ray, I think you're touching upon something very important and probably deserves a separate thread, namely, what counts as practice? Why we seem to be still learning/improving after a practice session away from violin or even after a good night sleep or even a day or two?
Edited: November 19, 2017, 1:49 PM · I interpreted Roman's quote "There is no stasis. You’re either getting better, or you’re getting worse" to mean exactly that. If you don't play for 3 days, you might get worse on some techniques, and you might get better on other areas. You are constantly moving up or down on some dimension. It's unlikely you'll be exactly the same as where you were 3 days before.
Edited: November 19, 2017, 2:25 PM · My point is that these kinds of slogans are basically worthless. It's just philosophical conjecture. There's no way anything like that could ever be substantiated or generalized.
November 19, 2017, 2:30 PM · I agree with Paul. There are so much to be learned from modern science about how we learn and how we improve through interval trainings.
November 19, 2017, 2:30 PM · Paul Deck only believes in measurable phenomena :)
November 19, 2017, 2:35 PM · Erik that's not entirely true but I think my threshold for what I consider to be complete BS is much lower than some others.
November 19, 2017, 6:15 PM · Agree with Paul. I like evidence. But I wouldn't call philosophical conjecture worthless. And I would distinguish aphorisms from philosophy (critical thinking.)
Edited: November 19, 2017, 7:42 PM · If it weren't for burn out, I think it's absolutely possible to fill a work day's worth of practice (I think it was Donald Weilerstein who practiced 10+ hours/day at Meadowmount when his peers, e.g. Perlman, worked for 4. They made fun of him but he was hell bent on doing what it took for him to achieve what he wanted.) Just working on technique, slow tuning in positions, tuning in shifting, velocity for the left hand in patterns and shifting, arpeggios, tone production, various bowing, can easily take up a couple of hours. Slow tuning on a few pieces of rep can easily take another couple of hours. We haven't even touched upon speed work, memorization, phrasing, score study, and later, playing through, practicing starting and preparing tempo and style, etc. Of course you can't possibly cover everything you need to attend to daily, but the more you discover what it takes to prepare a piece for performance, you realize there's more than enough to do.
November 19, 2017, 7:26 PM · I think that it might be helpful to take a break for your mind, and do something completely different for some time. Also, 100 comments!
November 19, 2017, 7:53 PM · 10 hours a day for 7 weeks in a row?!

You're right though, it's easy to spend an hour on scales alone, and when you're playing big concertos it's easy to spend several hours on each movement. I don't know if that would all be 100% efficient practice though.

November 19, 2017, 8:34 PM · Jeewon I agree with you.
November 20, 2017, 3:30 AM · Stasis? This does not mean not practicing, but practising long enough and efficiently enough to keep at the same level. Which is what I do until some new challenge kicks me somewhere rude..
November 20, 2017, 3:55 AM · Yixi, Jeewon- good points on the nonphysical side of practicing: mental practice, studying the music, etc. Should they be included - though the OP probably meant counting the physical side of playing only - they should account for something.
Edited: November 20, 2017, 8:53 AM · What I meant by that quote, is even though the effects are not perceptible and not measurable in the short-term, they become perceptible and measurable in the long-term.
If you practice well for 10 days, you are more likely to improve than if you stop playing for 10 days, Paul could probably agree on that.

I think it was Scott who mentioned in another thread that 2-3 hours is what he needs daily to maintain ‘stasis’ of his technical abilities, and he could start seeing significant improvements only after those first 2-3 hours.

There’s an interview of Hillary Hahn on this site, where she says she practices about 6-7 hours per day, but only 4 hours of that time is spent in actual playing, the rest is score studying, taking breaks and stretching, etc...

Yixi, from the various studies cited in the articles on Bulletproof Musician, it seems the learning process continues for up to a day after last practicing, and most of the passive learning is made during sleep.

To me, more important than practice time is degree of focus during practice. The best retention comes from mindful practice. If I’m not mistaken, the following words have been attributed to Auer, Heifetz’s teacher: ‘I tell my students not to practice more than 3 hours per day, 4 hours if they are really stupid’ :)

November 20, 2017, 7:04 AM · When I agreed to disagree with Roman, my hope was to avoid that sidebar from taking over the thread. But perhaps at this point the thread has exhausted its original purpose anyway. I doubt a serious student like Gemma cares very much about our pointless bickering over stasis, since that is not her goal.

My idea of "stasis" was the same as Adrian's. You can't expect anything but decline if your violin sits in its case. The first time you try treading water, it takes a lot more effort than you think. But you can get better at it. Stasis for me takes probably 30 diligent minutes of scales and/or a few Mazas or Kreutzer studies.

November 20, 2017, 7:25 AM · Come on, relax! If everything we say on this forum must be "substantiated and generalized", I am not sure how much is there left to be said.
November 20, 2017, 8:55 AM · We now seem to agree Paul, so the sidebar can be closed :)
November 21, 2017, 5:12 AM · An hour of unmindful practice can undo many hours of the mindful kind.
November 21, 2017, 6:44 PM · While I agree unmindful practice can create bad habits, where is the scientific evidence that it will "undo many hours of the mindful kind"?
Edited: November 24, 2017, 4:06 AM · No "scientific" evidence, Gabbi, just an opinion (based on experience and observation)! For example I find that in my practice the morning after a gruelling orchestral session, I have to re-do the basics to recover tone, intonation, and precise articulation.

The results of Mindful Practice depend on more Mindful Practice, even for Stasis...;)


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