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Tyrone Wilkins

My violin life/Benefits of not practicing everyday

June 11, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Even though I have one now I might as well be studying alone. My violin teacher is the type of person to just repeat a technique ('No. Make it more of a brushed spiccato') without actually explaining how to play it better. Honestly, I don't really care how she teaches.I'm only taking private lessons because my school orchestra teacher practically made me when she told me that no one can be in advanced orchestra (Chamber) unless they take private lessons.

During my year and a half of violin study I've had to find out many things on my own because I didn't get a private teacher until a few months ago.I actually prefer studying alone (unless I get a better teacher)because of how seriously I take violin practice,performance,and music in general.

One of the first discoveries about violin that I made was,believe it or not,the ability to vibrate harmonics and open strings. I had been playing for only a few weeks when I had a conversation with my orchestra teacher,Mrs.Provenza at the time,about harmonics. She showed me the harmonic on the E string that's about in the middle of the string and when I ran to her later with my 'discovery', she gave me a look that was filled with surprise,joy,and too much coffee.
(On to more important things)

One of the most important violin 'discoveries' I've made would have to be the benefits of not practicing everyday.

Playing the violin,like many instruments,is an ongoing process that can take anywhere from a few years to a lifetime,depending on what the violinist wants to accomplish.Great skill isn't acquired over night! No matter what your plan is with violin, I think everyone could give this a try.

Violin practice to me is kind of like exercise. I work hard on tough passages in the pieces that I'm learning,play tons of scales, and do many self made exercises outside of practice that help finger strength and flexibility. I play violin just about everyday, but every now ad then something feels 'off'. Sometimes I lose inspiration caused from realizing that where I want to be,skill level and study, is NO WHERE in sight. After a few months of playing violin I actually quit for a week during the summer because of my negative thoughts. I'm not sure why...but after a few days of quitting I woke up early one morning with a burning determination in my heart that overthrew the negative thoughts and lead me to where I am now.

Since then I've experimented with breaks of different (and much shorter)lengths of beaks from playing/practicing. I noticed that taking a day break after a 5-6 days of intense practice that focused strictly on building technique and fixing rough passages caused my violin playing to improve dramatically. I felt stronger,faster,and most important of all,more accurate. It seems that by allowing my muscles and mind to rest longer than a typical 8 hour night resulted in all around improvement. My day break also gave me time to be inspired by my favorite violinists by watching their performance on youtube. I'm not sure if anyone else have tried this but if you haven't it's certainly worth a try.

As for me,I continue to practice this way because it works for me. In the end, nothing is more important that what works best for you. I learned that from reading an interview with Hilary Hahn. She is my daily inspiration and I guess you could say my violin 'idol'. I'm thinking about starting a blog series in this style so feedback is always welcome.

From Lia Tricomo
Posted on June 12, 2012 at 1:19 AM
Hi, I liked your article. Very well written...You should keep posting in this style. I totally feel you when you say that you have to basically do what you want. It's just the nature of hmmm music? But I have a feeling from the beginning of your article that you don't really care for your teacher's lessons...that's a big problem...see because that's where you're getting the bulk of your influence is from seeing it in person...feeling it...and if your teacher is not really helping you, its kind of unfortunate. For me, personally, Being a person that has started playing violin late, and having been an aspiring professional it was important to have a good teacher to really hash out the to speak...cut the fat of my playing took a few sets of very keen eyes and ears on my own playing. Violin is totally technical, not really like any other instrument ...violin takes a lot of work to sound even remotely that teacher that out, yo. Cuz really it sounds like you know what you it shouldn't be too hard...Yes you need a teacher, no matter who you are. this is violin, not banjo.
From Tyrone Wilkins
Posted on June 12, 2012 at 1:48 AM
I understand what you're saying but it would be WAY too much trouble to get another teacher. I'll explain everything in my next post.
From Paul Deck
Posted on June 12, 2012 at 2:53 PM
Tyrone ... more trouble than having an ineffective teacher? That's what you need to evaluate. I agree with the previous post that you have good skill at writing and you should also get coaching to develop this skill even beyond what you get in school because it is not all that common among young people in my experience and you should play to your talents. Maybe there are writers' workshops or online college courses that would be of use.
From Tyrone Wilkins
Posted on June 12, 2012 at 5:36 PM
Yes. It would be more trouble. I didn't expect such positive feedback. Maybe I could start blogging weekly. I don't know about any workshops though. I don't enjoy writing about anything besides music/life.
From Kit Jennings
Posted on June 18, 2012 at 1:30 PM
The trouble with advice like this is that for some people, a day off turns into 2 days of which turns into a week off. Before you know it, they haven't practiced in a month and might just forget about the whole thing. It's easy to do in the real world.

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