Printer-friendly version weekend vote: Do you like to practice?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: May 8, 2015 at 5:00 PM [UTC]


If you are here, reading this, you probably like playing the violin. But do you like practicing?

Some people like it more than others. If you are a little more process-oriented, the practice room gives you a chance to figure things out, repeat things. It's a ritual, and a daily ritual can be not only great for your violin-playing, it can be a comfort.

But practice is a means to an end, and others much prefer that end: performing in a group, playing the concert, etc. The practice part is just a necessary chore. Or for some, they really don't practice! I've had colleagues that I greatly admire for their high level tell me that basically, they don't practice any more. Perhaps they play enough that it's not necessary.

For most of us mortals, it is, though! What are your feelings about practice?

From Lawrence Price
Posted on May 8, 2015 at 6:12 PM
It is practically the core of my life.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on May 8, 2015 at 7:36 PM
None of the choices quite fits. Sometimes I love it, but I don't do it every day. I stop when it gets too chore-like. I do sometimes dread it, but that almost always goes away after a few minutes. I've even found that practicing can get rid of headaches!
From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 8, 2015 at 8:19 PM
Karen, but does it ever actually cause headaches? ;) Hee hee! BTW I'm glad someone finally admitted they never practice. I know y'all are out there! Don't worry, I can't track you by your vote.
From Jim Hastings
Posted on May 8, 2015 at 9:57 PM
I love it -- always did. Not that there aren't days when I don't feel like doing it. Who doesn't have days like this now and then? When that happens, setting a definite time to dig in helps me break the lethargy. The session gets rolling, and then I don't want to stop.

As a kid, I was a practice addict. That hasn't worn off. FWIW, starting violin lessons was my idea. And I was definitely the geeky type. I would read through upcoming lessons as bedtime stories -- curious to see what lay ahead. My parents didn't have to tell me to practice. Instead, they sometimes had to remind me when it was time to stop -- especially, for instance, when bedtime was nearing and the next day was a school day. I find now that setting an end time for a practice session helps me keep up the appetite for practicing the next day.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on May 8, 2015 at 10:35 PM
I love it. I love the instrument, the music, the playing, the process, the sound, the (hopefully) progress, and the ritual.

Though I do take the occasional day off to rest...

From Karen Collins
Posted on May 8, 2015 at 11:40 PM
I do it every day. I don't always love it, but I am a creature of habit.
From marjory lange
Posted on May 9, 2015 at 12:38 AM
I used to hate it when it was 'required', but now, when I struggle to find the time (when I'm awake, alert, and all that) it's become something I desire and love--but also dread--because, not being able to do as much as I want/need, I don't sound like I want to and it takes FOR-EVER to improve.

I've never before had instruments whose voices I loved so much as I do the ones I have now; just wish I could do them justice.

From jean dubuisson
Posted on May 9, 2015 at 9:06 AM
"Practice is a means to an end", not always: some musicians (typically amateurs, of course) actually enjoy the practicing, trying out many little things, repeating something a lot, trying out many variations, etc, as the main activity in itself. The jazz world even have their separate term for it, they call it woodshedding. I readily admit I am a woodshedder!
From Paul Deck
Posted on May 9, 2015 at 12:33 PM
I love it, always, even when I'm struggling with some technical problem, which is ... always. But there are days that I simply do not have time.
From Zlata Brouwer
Posted on May 9, 2015 at 4:28 PM
I have to admit I like practicing more than performing. Performance just gives me an excuse to practice a lot and make time for it. Except from orchestra rehearsals... I have difficulties staying focussed (especially in the mornings).
Posted on May 10, 2015 at 10:05 AM
A great article!!
From N.A. Mohr
Posted on May 10, 2015 at 1:54 PM
I enjoy practicing. It provides an opportunity to explore sound, in all its forms. And it is the exploration of sound that I find endlessly fascinating. When you practice you're not under the stress of 'make no mistakes!' and so it is relaxing. After a good practice session (and I'm the first to admit they don't all end well) you come away with that warm glow of a job well done.

Given how much time one practices compared to the time one performs, I hope that most do like to practice.

From Steven Albert
Posted on May 10, 2015 at 1:56 PM
It's not so much practicing I love, it's really more picking up my violin and just playing. It doesn't really matter so much to that itch what it is I'm playing, as long as I'm playing. Practicing is just as good as playing anything else. I can't wait to get home from work and get to my violin. Perhaps it's a function of the fact I have no other outlets. I don't play with any organizations, or really have opportunities to play with other musicians other than my teacher at my lessons. I have to confess there is the occasional day when I'm sick or just too exhausted or preoccupied to get to it, but those are very rare. I have also found, that if I'm particularly frustrated learning a new technique or complicated fingering (most recently read slurred double stops), I will intentionally take off a day. Somehow, that gels things in my brain so when I get back to it, it all seems to fall together better. I also have to admit, I do love the results. Part of the excitement for me is when I realize how much I've managed to improve over time.
From Charles Zacks
Posted on May 11, 2015 at 2:00 AM
Thanks for an interesting article and poll.

I am a beginning violinist, ( or technically returning to it in my 50s after not touching a violin for 35 years), and very much look forward to practicing. As a physician and surgeon I live by routines, and have successfully included daily practice among them. While I don't skip a session unless I am traveling, I do notice substantial variation in practice session "quality". Sometime it seems natural, with productivity in solving technical problems in pieces at my level, while other times it "works" far less well, and it is best to keep it extremely simple, even playing simple scales, etc.. My least productive evenings are after a day of surgery, which is both mentally and physically fatiguing. My practice philosophy is to make at least a little progress every day, even if it is an extremely small increment. It is the cumulative progress toward my goal of learning to expressing myself as an amateur violinist that keeps me looking forward to the next practice session.

I would particularly like to hear from any other 50s beginners out there -

Kind regards - Charlie

From Mark Roberts
Posted on May 11, 2015 at 2:48 PM
I always have difficulty stopping....
Posted on May 11, 2015 at 11:51 PM
Since I've been fighting an essential tremor which has made playing violin very difficult (I have it in both hands), practice is a desperate chore that I cling to so that I don't lose what I spent so many years developing. I play viola when playing for anyone, but I still do my technique on the violin so that I can play in a high register. I even use as viola bow when playing violin.
Scales and arpeggios (the Carl Flesch 3-octave ones) prevent my intonation from deteriorating, and I have three Paganini caprices (1,2 and 15) that I play through very slowly, one per day. Off-the-string is history, and I play mostly in the upper half of the bow. As I said above, practice is a desperate attempt to cling to what is left of my profession.

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