Practice is probably the most important part of learning, progressing and maintaining skills on the violin - or any instrument. But you have to have a place to practice!
Ideally, a practice place has sufficient space, a backdrop of relative quiet, and enough privacy to allow uninhibited trial and error. It should be a place where no one will pound on your door and yell, "Stop that racket!" Even more ideally, it's a pleasant place, with good acoustics, a nice window, maybe even a piano...
If you live with other people and you practice at home, then naturally you have to work your practice space and time around the other people who live in the house, in case they are working, sleeping, talking on the phone, etc.
Personally, at this point I have a part of my home that is devoted to music, and it's also where I teach. But this wasn't always so. Growing up, I tended to head to the basement to practice, as it was a good hideaway where no one would bother me. In fact, for a while I practiced in a window-less furnace room, with a bare bulb as my light! Probably not ideal, but there were few distractions and I was able to accomplish a lot.
In college I sometimes practiced in practice rooms, but honestly I found all the racket distracting - as was the temptation to socialize! I preferred once again to sneak down to the basement of my dorm and practice in an empty room.
I've always dreamed of having a house with an ideal "conservatory" - complete with a grand piano, picture windows and high-end decorative rug. Even better if this area could be converted to a recital hall!
But a fancy practice area does not equate to effective practice. I've had some pretty effective practice sessions in weird places like empty hotel gym rooms, back rooms in churches, outdoors at camp, and of course, in the basement.
What is your current "practice space" like? Please participate in the vote and then tell us about the various places where you have practiced your instrument, and the pros and cons of those places.
I have a room that would double as my “study” and music room—mainly the latter. My digital piano is there along with viola, guitars, ukulele, trumpet, and flugelhorn. I can shut myself off from the rest of the house so the dogs, cats, and my wife don’t howl so much when I play.
Its just my husband and me. In our old house, in Mass., I practiced in the guest room. With the pandemic we moved to Maine and have my elderly cello playing father often with us. We now have a spare bedroom as a music room I practice in that we used for duets in the pandemic. When my quartet comes we play in the living room as my 'music room' is too small. It is wonderful to have a dedicated space - feels very luxurious and conducive to practicing.
During the pandemic, since we never had guests, I appropriated the guest room as my music/sewing room. It isn't acoustically isolated, but I can leave my music stands and other accoutrements out, as well as my sewing machine. When guests arrive, my violin and music stand migrate to the bedroom.
I have a "special" room for practicing. It is also a guest room, but since we typically have guest no more than one week annually - that is not much interference. It was also my office for ten years when I was somehwat gainfully employed from home as a consultant and my "studio" when I as "moonlighted" as a violin & cello teacher. I keep my violin/viola cases on one bed and cello and cello bows in a wooden stand. There are also a keyboard in a stand and a multi-input music amplification system both wired into the same modest speaker system.
When I was a kid, I practiced in my bedroom. Now I practice in the spare bedroom of our house. When we don't have guests, which is usual, this room is also my office and where I taught school over zoom during the pandemic. I have an instrument hanger near my desk and especially during the pandemic I would take the instrument down and play for a few minutes as a break from working at the computer.
Normally I do most practicing in my living room, where I have a piano and the floor space is set up to allow for chamber music (though I've never had anyone over to play chamber music due to the pandemic).
However, once the pandemic started, I often went out to the American River Trail and practiced by the river for a change of scenery. And in the past year, because I went back to school for a LL.M degree and have had recurring apartment noise issues since October, I've probably practiced more in the UC Davis law school basement than anywhere else. I've also practiced in the law school's student lounge and courtyard, in the UC Davis Arboretum, in university practice rooms, and at a coworking space, all more frequently than at home.
Until last night, when my daughter arrived home from college for the summer, I had her room to myself. Now I'm crammed into our bedroom. It's in an ideal location, but not for lessons--my teacher wants to start back in person and she's coming here on the way to the home of another student who she's been teaching in person for some time. We'll probably have to meet in the living room, which is open to most of the downstairs and within hearing of my husband in his office. :( Fortunately(?) I'm down to half hour lessons right now.
These days, normally my bedroom, not really a special corner. Neighbours don't seem to mind, one seems to like it. But I'm careful to vary what I practice a bit.
In the guest room/library/music room. To not distract the family and save my ears, I usually use a practice mute, on my #3 - practice violin.
Most of the time I practice in the phrontistery on the top floor of my house, well away from everybody.
I have a duyptrens contracture, which means my 3rd and fourth fingers on the left hand no longer function as they should. Same on the right hand, except thumb, 4th and 1st finger still work. My (amateur) orchestra colleagues are very tolerant. Much of my practice involves sorting out in the living room fingerings that still enable me to play viola: eg Frank, Symphony in D, Brahms 3 and so on. It is a blessing, that after 2 years in lock down, I can still join with them.
I practice in the garage most of the year. Here, around the 34th parallel, it's warm enough to do this about 8 months each year.
Pros: The garage has the reverb I like and makes a good recording space. While I'm conscious of the reverb, I don't get the full effect it while playing, because I'm wearing foam earplugs. Playing in this space also lets me share the music with neighbors and passers-by, although I don't find out till later who hung around to listen.
Cons: The garage is unheated; so, by late November or early December, I move indoors to the living room to practice and play for a few months. No real cons there except for less reverb.
We have a spare bedroom which we've set up as a music room, but usually I just practise in my office in front of the computer, on which I can play recordings of the orchestral material I'm working on.
Two days a week I work at an office out in the country. Now that the weather is warming up, I'll be able to once again go out at lunch time to the end of a country road, walk up onto a dyke, and have a panoramic view of open farmland as I play. I call it the world's most beautiful practice room.
Our house is really a bungalow set on a walk-out basement (to the gardens). We have a ground floor'family room' with a wood burning stove - and that is now my violin studio. I can play there any time of the day without bothering anyone and I have a large black IKEA structure that holds my library and violin things.
I know, I am really blessed. But to put it in perspective, I spent several decades NOT practicing to be able to afford it!
Our home is typical 70's style architecture with cathedral ceilings and multiple levels. In particular, my work area for music, computers, photography, etc, is in a loft area on the second floor.
It has cathedral ceilings above it, but not so high. The result is that it makes an ideal, acoustical space for practicing violin. I keep my music stand in a corner of the loft, as well as a customized stand I made for a tablet and virtual lessons. If ever I need to, the presence of two Mac computers makes it possible to record videos, or to position a webcam in order to see myself play. I added a table ideally sized for my violin and case. It even has a view out the front or back. So, I pull my music stand towards the center of the area, and I'm off and strumming.
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May 29, 2022 at 09:35 PM · I practice in my bedroom. Very comfortable space I set up for that purpose. But in the morning before work, I can only play my bass viol because the violin is too loud and I have a housemate sleeping. I long for a special music room, not sure I'll ever get one. There's an abandoned cavernous building at the bottom of my (450') driveway that is a very large single room, unfinished so ceiling trusses are overhead. Sometimes I go there to play. Technically I'm trespassing but that's a risk I take for decent acoustics. Last week I took my violin to work to play in the warehouse during lunch but I'm so terrible the office asked me to stop. If I had any pride, I'd probably just quit violin altogether, but I choose disgrace and outlawry.