Dirty Little Secrets

October 22, 2007 at 05:40 AM · "You know, Megan, if you just practiced this every day, everything would be so much easier."

Yes, of course I know. But there's so much to practice, and so much that gets left out. Why? No time, it's tedious, 'I should only practice this if I can really concentrate on it' - i.e. not today, 'I practiced that for an hour yesterday - it won't hurt to skip it today' (And tomorrow. And next week...).

What do you neglect?

Feeling guilty yet?

So, let's do something about it! Join my two-week challenge. Here's how it works:

Tell us what it is that you sweep under the carpet. It can be a technical element, an etude, a passage, etc. Now it's out in the open - no more hiding!

Agree to practice this EVERY DAY for two weeks.

Tell us how it's going - is it improving? Do you need new ideas how to make your practice interesting?

At the end, tell us how it went. What did you learn? Did it make a difference? Have you formed a good habit?

So, out with those dirty secrets! Me first - tenths, fingered octaves, and anything involving expanding the hand, really. Most of the time, I can just 'get by' by practicing the passages where I need them, but I know I'd feel much more secure if I knew the handshapes as well as I know the octave.

What am I going to do? All my major scales in tenths every day. Elevenths and twelfths as well, in one key. Broken third scales with extension fingerings. Apply this to repertoire and etudes. I'll keep you posted!

Replies (23)

October 22, 2007 at 05:47 AM · I stay a little overwhelmed, and have gotten use to it. So my challenge is to practice what Ron Mutchnik, Jeewon, Buri have shown me about articulation and hand shaping; trying to bring some programming to all the exercises.

October 22, 2007 at 07:36 AM · You will pry my chromatic tuner from my dead, cold, lifeless fingers....

I did buy a 440 A tuning fork. It looks very lonesome and emo sitting in my violin case. I promised myself I would learn to tune the right way, but then I got new pegs and strings and its almost impossible (with the strings stretching) and everything. Honest. Also, my dog ate my homework.

October 22, 2007 at 08:28 AM · My dog ate four pounds of red licorice.

October 22, 2007 at 11:26 AM · Now you mention it, there is something niggling at the back of my mind. Something that I really should be practicing in order to improve. oh yeah - my violin

October 22, 2007 at 01:54 PM · I am going to practice varying bow speed, pressure, and sounding point.

October 22, 2007 at 02:01 PM · just 2 notes a day,,,,what is your problem!

October 22, 2007 at 02:48 PM · My violin secret? I've never learned a single Kreutzer or Dont etude to date.

October 22, 2007 at 05:01 PM · I don't know how to shift.

Nate, do you do etudes at all?

October 22, 2007 at 05:12 PM · I don't work on my orchestra music nearly as much as I should.

(And I'm skipping a rehearsal tonight...)

October 22, 2007 at 05:20 PM · Yay! Count me in with Kreutzer #34. Double stops are my nemesis and I know this etude is good for me, but I hate it. I will practice it EVERY DAY for two weeks, which has the added benefit of making sure I practice, period, every day for two weeks. :) Thanks for the challenge!

October 22, 2007 at 05:38 PM · ROFL John Lanceley! ^o^

Shall we try to dig it out 3 times this week?

October 22, 2007 at 06:03 PM · Maybe I should just spend the time put in reading everything of interest on v-com actually practising. This is becoming more of an addiction. Stop logging onto v.com for two weeks? Dunno. Maybe a day or two ... I have cut down drastically as it is. I wish I had a decent list of things like Albert to systematically go through.

Right, I'll start with practising the scales I know and etudes using different bowings daily. As well as my pieces. And not log on until I've done it. THere. Black and white. I'm insanely pedantic about keeping promises. Whatever possessed me to write this? This is going to hurt... (And I haven't practised yet today - that's my skeletons out...) Now to work. Bye. If you don't see any posts from me for the next 2 weeks you'll know why. I just hope something improves. It'll have been worth it!

October 22, 2007 at 07:35 PM · Hi Charlie, I do lots of technical works, mostly scales. I like working on the Paganini, Ernst, and Wieniawski solo etudes/caprices. Maybe I'll crack the books to some Dont and Kreutzer this year.

October 22, 2007 at 07:35 PM · I am going to confess my really dirty secret, "I do not like playing Bach!"

I have avoided all of his sonatas and partitas and concertoes. I know I am so bad. :(

I don't like to play his pieces because I feel they are so hard to play in the right way as defined by most of my teachers I have studied with. I am romantic period lover. I play everything romantically. So needless to say, Bach and I do not get along.

I do not think this is something that I could work on in a couple of weeks, but it felt nice to get that out in the open.

October 22, 2007 at 07:45 PM · Nate...

I did 1 Dont but never really any Kreutzer. In first year of college I did like the first line of that Kreutzer thing for string crossings... I really want to learn these books though because they are good for teaching.

I'm sure I'll do a lot of them soon.

October 22, 2007 at 07:46 PM · Nate, you've got two weeks - should be enough time for you to do a run through Kreutzer... But seriously, how did you manage that? What kind of teachers did you have in high school?

October 23, 2007 at 07:37 PM · Day 3:

This is actually day 5 (I had this idea a while before I could post it), and consistency does seem to make a difference! On the first couple of days, after doing a good 45 minutes of tenths, my hands felt like they'd been through a power yoga workout. The stretches are already much more natural, and my stamina's increased. I'll be focusing on loosening up enough to produce a real vibrato (one that doesn't involve wiggling the scroll more than the fingers...) over the next couple of days. Was starting to feel quite confident about my scales until I opened Sevcik op.1 bk. 4. Apparently I know what tenths feel like when I approach them from the tones above or below, but leaps! Embarrassing... Tomorrow we'll see if it's made any difference to Brahms concerto yet.

October 23, 2007 at 08:40 PM · Hi Pieter, I agree that there is actually lots of useful stuff in both Kreutzer and Dont. Ruggiero Ricci told me the most helpful Dont and Kreutzer etudes are the ones that target one technique for the entire etude (e.g. thirds, tenths, articulation, string crossing).

Megan, you're right I really should study them. I feel embarrassed for not knowing them too well. Throughout high school I did lots of work on scales (Carl Flesch and Hrimaly) and some other etudes by Rode (one of my favorite etude books), Kayser, the Wieniawski, Ernst, and Paganini solo caprice/etudes. I'm going to study them this year.

October 24, 2007 at 01:55 AM · Some violinists are just so good at it that they can get away with almost anything. Nate, it sounds to me you are one of those. I solute to you!

October 24, 2007 at 02:22 AM · I will practice string crossing exercises from my bowing class for 15 minutes each day.

October 24, 2007 at 03:07 AM · I love the idea! Ok, I hate thirds. I will practice all the thirds excercises in one key each day in Carl Flesch.

November 13, 2007 at 06:40 PM · I agree with Bernadette. I've been reading just about anything and everything on v.com which has begun to cut into my practising and yes it's addicting!

November 13, 2007 at 07:49 PM · I start an assigned practice piece and a passage in that one reminds me of another and I start noodling on that one.

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