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3 Tips for Violin or Viola Players who Feel like a Beginner Every Day

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: May 21, 2015 at 8:39 AM [UTC]

I would like to start with a question for you...

Do you recognize the following? One day you have practiced and you got some great results. Imagine you are happy with the results and you feel even a little proud of yourself.

The next day you start full of confidence with your practice of that day. You pick up your violin or viola and when you start playing the amazing results you got the day before are gone!

What has happened here?

First of all: It’s not a lack of talent and you are not crazy!

Everybody playing the violin or viola experiences this once in a while or even daily. It might feel that you have to start learning the violin or viola again every day. You feel like a beginner every day. 

Let me give you 3 causes and cures for this phenomenon...

1) The Practice Illusion

In your practice session you have played the same piece ten times... maybe even a hundred times. What do you remember of all these repetitions? Do you remember number hundred when it went really well?

Probably you do and you are very excited about this. When it ends up going so well, you easily forget the ninety-nine times it wasn’t perfect.

This is the Practice Illusion: it’s your memory working very selective.

If you didn’t play perfect ninety-nine times out of a hundred... how big is the chance that the first time you try it the next day it will go perfect? 1%

The start of your new practice session will most of the times not be so good as the end of your previous practice session.

Just pick up your instrument, practice with confidence and ease down your expectations.

2) You need a warming up

When you just pick up your instrument, your hands are cold and you haven’t ‘played in’ than you won’t play on the top of your abilities. 

This warming up is similar to a warming up in sports. Your muscles will be warm and smooth.

Music is not a sport, but there are quite some similarities.

A warming up can consist of:

  • Playing scales to stabilize your intonation

  • Bowing technique exercises

  • Playing some pieces that are fun and perhaps a bit under your current level

Experiment to find out how long it takes and what you need to do to warm yourself up and get to the top of your abilities. 

3) Everyday is different

Just as that you can have a bad hair day, you can have a bad violin or viola day. We are not always on the top of our abilities.

What do you do on a bad violin or viola day? You don’t have to do something specific or something very different.

Most of the times on days like these I just pick up my violin and play the things that I planned to play. After a while I get into the flow of playing and it goes all right.

Another possibility is to NOT play that day. If it only leads to frustration, there is no point in pushing through and practicing anyway. 

It’s not always bad not to practice... perhaps there are some unconscious learning processes going on that need their time.

Another possibility is to play a piece that motivates you. What would you really feel like playing?

Or... try something very different! Perhaps you normally play from sheet music and you would like to improvise a little. Doing something different can motivate too.

In addition to these three tips: A learning curve is not a straight line. There are a lot of ups and downs. Every violin and viola player experiences this. You are absolutely not the only one.

The implementation of these three tips is very personal. Just experiment and see what works for you. If you would like to share your tip, feel free do so in the comments below.

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

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