V.com weekend vote: What is your focus for practice this week?

March 13, 2020, 11:45 AM · Let's face it, an awful lot of us are home this week, with no place to go and a lot less to do. What is the solution to potential boredom, malaise and feelings of uselessness?


music room

Practice your violin, viola, cello, piano -- whatever your instrument happens to be. And you will be more likely to do so if you think about it in advance.

It's possible that your orchestra or ensemble practice was canceled, that your concert is not happening, even that the trip that was so motivating is not happening. It's hard to practice when your goal or motivation is taken away.

If that's the case, you can change your plan and find new motivation.

Here are a few ideas to make things more interesting and engaging for yourself:

Of course, if your performances are simply delayed but not canceled, you can simply continue to practice that music. If you still have assignments from a teacher and are continuing lessons, then you can prioritize that. But consider spicing it up with some pet goals as well; create your own, or ask your teacher for some additional work.

With that in mind, what will you do with your practicing this week? It's likely you'll do a combination of things, but please choose a "focus" in the vote, and then tell us about it. What repertoire will you hit? Any special technique plans? Will you work with a teacher? And what kinds of challenges are going on for you right now? Were things canceled or delayed? Let's commiserate a little...

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March 13, 2020 at 06:16 PM · I think I'm gonna do a number of bowing things (strokes/seamless bow change) as they have plagued me for years. Vibrato is a big thing for me as well so will aim to try and start getting that down properly in the coming weeks

March 13, 2020 at 06:40 PM · I’m always working scales and etudes but will be focusing on bowing especially in technique working. Also vibrato. I will throw in some new pieces besides what my teacher had me working on because I don’t get bored when I have a challenge! Maybe when all this is over my teacher will raise her eyebrows in amazement of how much I’ve improved ??!!

March 13, 2020 at 07:03 PM · Because of business, I spent most of my time practicing for an upcoming chamber music camp (cancelled!). Now I will turn my attention to solo repertoire.

March 13, 2020 at 07:17 PM · Taking a little break from memorizing (and forever polishing) the Beethoven Concerto to work on my 6ths (scales by Elisabeta Gilels, Wieniawski Etude-Caprice #5, and Paganini Caprice #21). Also working out the bowings and fingerings of the 1st page of the Korngold Concerto. The challenge here is to find my own voice because I don’t want to end up sounding like a lousy imitation of my violin hero, Jascha Heifetz. Very difficult to get his sound out of my head!

March 13, 2020 at 07:18 PM · I wish that there was an option for a bit of all of the above! I chose the first option because I thought it could include them all, as well as being true in itself.

March 13, 2020 at 07:57 PM · Not practicing this week, resting a chronic shoulder injury.

Assuming everything stays canceled for a while, I'm picking up the Walton viola concerto again (learned the first movement to a just-passable standard in 2018 before being interrupted by injury) and working on some audition excerpts for possible future auditions. (Not planning to audition anywhere, just want to have them under my fingers.)

Also, working on generally getting my fingers more relaxed. They've been much stiffer than usual in recent months, probably because I haven't practiced more than an hour a week outside of orchestra rehearsals since summer 2018. I should be able to do more regular practice, in shorter sessions, when I don't have a 3-hour rehearsal every Monday that wipes me out until Thursday or Friday.

March 13, 2020 at 09:10 PM · Hard to pick just one from that list, Laurie!! But I have a new friend who is a harpsichordist (she has three harpsichords in addition to her piano) and she said she would like to play Bach with me, so I'm trying to reach a "play-in" level of proficiency on the first three Bach accompanied sonatas. Interestingly the youth orchestra in which I am a violist (otherwise they would have only one) is still rehearsing tomorrow and I'll go to that. I'm also working on the Svendsen Romance for Violin (with piano reduction) for an upcoming performance opportunity so that's very exciting. I love this piece -- it's just a really pretty salon piece.

March 13, 2020 at 09:18 PM · As I'm a geezer, retired, et cetera, I'm home a lot anyway. That being said, my students are now getting practice feedback and instructions from me via them sharing a video of an assigned piece. In studio lessons aren't happening till things simmer down.

I did, just prior to the appearance of Covid-19 in the USA find that one of my students and her father like Jazz. So, I purchased the Hal Leonard "101 Jazz Songs" to use as inspirational music. Now I'm sight reading the entire book deciding on which ones can be used for my student, but also just having a blast playing all the tunes (a lot of them are anything but "easy.")

Life goes on and someday it will return to the new-normal.

No, I'm not even thinking about SKYPE or those other ways to potentially do lessons. I don't have a smart phone, no camera on my desktop computer, no tablets, et cetera. But the videos are great as a teaching tool I get to replay, slow down and watch carefully and make comments and suggestions to the students. Oh yeah, my Jazz lover is learning "Blue Skies" and just starting to swing. Music is wonderful.

March 14, 2020 at 03:46 AM · My lessons are continuing remotely so I have to keep working on a lot of stuff but I could only choose one thing so I chose "practice a piece for a future recital". It won't be until June 6 and I hope it happens, but meanwhile my string quartet wants to practice it with me.

March 14, 2020 at 07:40 AM · I will focus on losing tension and really listening and experimenting with phrasing. Finding my sound and using it well. i've watched this video twice already, so much good advice on this.


March 14, 2020 at 01:50 PM · 1. Memorize 2nd Bach partita properly

2. Work on Fuga in C major from Bach 3rd sonata

3. Finalize and perhaps memorize Telemann Fantasia 1

4. Work on Paganini Caprice 24

5. Memorize Shindler’s list theme

6. Memorize intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana

March 14, 2020 at 03:30 PM · Vibrato exercises, simon fischer, anyone any hints on how to practise them? From what I can gather go for small swing and big ping.

March 14, 2020 at 03:48 PM · I voted "new piece", although it's really not a new piece for me. One of my children is graduating from Suzuki Book 3 very soon, and she's so looking forward to playing Bach Double with me (so am I, actually). But I have not played this piece in years! So while I still have time, I've started practicing/relearning Bach Double violin 1 and 2 again.

March 14, 2020 at 07:41 PM · Scales, scales and more scales. I am planning on taking another ABRSM exam at some point on the viola so now is a great time to get going with the scale memorisation. I don't need a teacher to do it with me.

Additionally, Elegie for viola (Glazunov) - polish and memorise, Prelude suite 1 (Bach) - memorise and polish, Group 1 - viola - Christmas Dance (V. Williams) - start some slow practice and putting in useful fingerings and bowing. Ready for a lesson eventually.

Violin - just maintenance work, now is a good time for me to get to grips with the new ABRSM syllabus, so I would like to work on some of the middle grade pieces for my students who are approaching this level. I am thinking I would like to take a punch at a romantic concerto, as yet undecided.

Otherwise, I have university work to complete, but it is all online, so shouldn't take too long.

March 14, 2020 at 11:00 PM · NNo change in habits, just a little more time available. Please fforgive the shameless self-promotion; I am preparing for the next ffaculty recital: Brahms/Joachim Hungarian dace #1, Kreisler Gypsy CCaprice, Bartok Romanian Fold Dances,Enesco The Old Fiddler, Dinicu HHora Staccato, Castelnuove-Tedesco, Jeremiah, and then switch to VViola for the Martinu 3 Madrigals.

March 15, 2020 at 12:19 AM · Since these times already call for a lot of patience, I have decided to focus on learning, really learning, the value of slow, really slow, practice.

March 18, 2020 at 10:54 AM · I'll continue working on what I can of the Bach 3rd Partita (If the Louré - not to be confused with Laurie - wasn't difficult enough as copied out by Anna Magdalena, already, I think it badly needs a trill on the first C# and a trill and turn on the last G# - I can't yet get the turn in tune, I may have to cheat and play an E or introduce an Arabic-style F, instead of the F#. I notice that Bach - of whatever first name - didn't write in any ornamentation for the lower line in either the violin sonatas and partitas or the cello suites; was it because they lacked the orthography with which to do so, or did Bach really not want it?) and Mozart 4 to try to make them sound reasonably listenable to. This is actually technique work, because implementing what I really want to play and how I want to play it is quite tricky, and I may not succeed.

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