Your daily practising system

January 27, 2012 at 11:34 PM · Everyone has a different practising system. Some musicians listen to the piece that they are gonna play before their daily practise. Some play kreutzer, rode or paganini to warm up. So, how do you do it? How long do you practise or play your piece?

Replies (27)

January 27, 2012 at 11:46 PM · This is a good question. I want to progress so rapidly that I have now focused on determining what is wrong with my playing and using my practice time to fix things while I learn the piece. I have no deadline to finish the Bach Partita No. 2 Gigue and that's my current piece. I dislike the Galamian editing in that copy so I've been writing each dance by hand on manuscript. This week's difficulty is bowing, bowings, and placements along the bow. I've written the Gigue by hand now and e.g. I'll work on the slur sections a few measures at a time. I've also identified 4 repetitive position sections that I'll practice, SLOWLY, in repetition of these position changes e.g. III, II, and I. I also have about 18 renditions of the piece that I've been listening too and also Youtube videos that I watch for fingerings. Hilary Hahn's version of this is spectacular. She remains true to Bach's intent. In fact I think she is the only player I've heard that plays the Allemande at what sounds like the best tempo. Most are faster.

The key for my practice is to pay attention. Pay strict attention to what you are doing and when you think you have it, stop and listen to someone else play the same piece. If you're better, I say no more. If not, try to determine what you can do to improve. And, focus on the pure mechanical technique and keep telling yourself to relax.

Oh, for me writing anything down in a notebook e.g may be unnecessary since it may be in a book, online, someone else's book, etc. but it really helps with comprehension. This works for me and maybe not everyone. I use the same technique with music. If I write it over myself, I learn so much more.

January 28, 2012 at 05:39 AM · This is a map Simon Fischer posts on his practice room:

January 28, 2012 at 08:18 AM · Thank you for your comprehensive answers and ideas.

Here is my daily practise sytem:

1- a 45-minute warm up (playing Kreutzer, Rodes and some other stuff that I've written

2- a 5 min. break

3- Now I begin to play some pieces. Especially playing Bach S&P to improve intonation. Sometimes very easy stuff as Bach minuets that beginner level players play. They are easy; but playing in different variations and techniques (such as ricohet, adding some chords on the theme) will really help.

4- after a pause, I start to play the romantic concerto that I work on. I listen to it a bit before I start to play.

5- a break again. after the break, some Paganini caprices as warm up

6- (optional) sometimes a sonata or a gypsy- tuned piece. Some of spanish dances of Sarasate is suggested

I play Chaconne from Bach, Bruch G Minor as romantic concerto. Also working on Paganini 24# and Beethoven violin sonatas.

January 28, 2012 at 08:41 AM · Greetings,

juts out of interest, does this mean you don`t use scales?

Cheers,

Buri

January 28, 2012 at 08:57 AM · No,of course I use. Flesch, Hrimaly and Sitt. I also play some scale studies that I've written. (In warm-up period)

January 28, 2012 at 09:15 AM · My ideal practice schedule would be:

Exercises (Sevcik, Iftinchi, DeLay)

Scales (scales, arpeggios, thirds, sixths, octaves)

Etude(s)

Concerto

Bach

Pieces

Orchestra

The problem is, it's too much! It would be easy to spend hours on a program like that, and I don't have so much time. Often I just play some of the exercises and scales, skip the etude, and go to the piece or orchestra part that needs my attention most.

Having an ideal schedule on paper still helps, because I can see what i have neglected, and rotate. That way, I can pick up my violin and spend a quarter of an hour profitably.

January 28, 2012 at 05:56 PM · I often listen to music on radio before practicing, but not necessarily the same pieces I'm going to play. Listening gets me mentally and emotionally pumped up for practicing.

AFTERNOON SESSION -- ABOUT 90 MINUTES

- Warm-up in 3rd and 1st positions -- stretch and vibrato; Sevcik or Schradieck.

- Double-, triple-, quadruple-stops.

- 3-octave scales; ├ętudes.

- Shifting.

- New repertoire.

EVENING SESSION -- ABOUT 90 MINUTES

- 10-minute warm-up -- like afternoon session, different exercises.

- Review old repertoire -- concertos, sonatas, cadenzas.

- Improvisations.

Afternoon is more practicing, less playing; evening is the reverse -- more playing, less practicing.

January 28, 2012 at 08:03 PM · My typical practice routine go something like this:

1 - get home from work, feed cats

2 - take viola out of case

3 - take cat out of case

4 - tune

5 - take cat out of case

6 - Matson, scales

7 - take cat out of case

8 - Rode

9 - give up on taking cat out of case

10- Solo piece(s) 1-2 max

11- Chamber music

12- take cat out of case

13- put viola back in case

14- sit down and pet cat

February 2, 2012 at 05:23 PM · @ Mendy

15 -- Scotch.

February 2, 2012 at 07:59 PM · Mendy - you need to categorise much more ...

February 2, 2012 at 10:05 PM · Mendy - how about keeping the viola in the cat basket? Could save you hours of practise time...

February 3, 2012 at 02:50 AM · lol

unfortunately, the 'cat basket' is on top of the piano, which is where the other two cats lay when I practice (or not).

I'm just thankful I have an attentive and appreciative audience.

February 3, 2012 at 06:41 AM · 1. 90 minutes Right hand: 20 minutes tone exercises, 30 minutes kreutzer etudes (for martele, staccato, legato, detache, spiccato, colle, etc), 40 string crossing exercises and bow patterns (from sevcik, basics, and some exercises, with different bow stokes)

2. 70 minutes Left hand: vibrato, sevcik double stops and shifting (op. 8 and 9), Roland Vamos Left hand double stops, schradieck, articulation and other left hand exercises

3. 45 minutes scales: usually flesh with galamian bow patterns and rhythms, right now I just choose a major and minor scale per week

4. Hour for concerto

5. Hour for bach

February 4, 2012 at 06:48 PM · If anyone has any old cases around, send 'em on down to Texas so Mendy can get some practicing done! Mendy, are these cats viola-sized, or will violin cases work as well?

Otherwise, you'll have to invest in some of those Musafia cat beds!

February 4, 2012 at 07:07 PM · Lisa LOL - I think you've just found a new market for the case makers - they can make a tropical and also a dog-proof version...

Just in case Mendy thinks she is alone... (see profile pic)

February 4, 2012 at 07:12 PM · They are definitely viola case-cats. They tried fitting in a violin case once, but it was too small (or it made their butts look big).

February 4, 2012 at 07:48 PM · We have two that are fine in a violin case, but the third, a British Shorthair, definitely needs the viola case. I've seen our 90 lb dog get in my son's cello case. What is so darned fascinating? Rosin dust? Blood, sweat, and tears?

February 14, 2012 at 08:57 AM · I am a final grade lower school. For the daily exercise I need 4-5 hours. The scales do about an hour. The concert also. A piece about 45-50 minutes. Etudes do 30 minutes. A basic exercise lest time. Is that enough?

February 14, 2012 at 05:42 PM · Andrijana, it changes for every major piece that you work on. I remember the days that I played Paganini D Major for 5 hours a day when I was younger. Importance is: how well you want play the concerto in the concert, with all its musicality. For ex., it is not necessary to play Bach Allemande for 4 hours, everyday practice. The piece decides the amonunt of time.

For daily practice, I can say 5-6 hours is enough.

February 15, 2012 at 08:47 AM · Thanke you! Do you play viola? I have a problem , and i don't now how much to play viola? Do i need to play viola every day?Thanks in advance!

February 15, 2012 at 12:11 PM · I don't play viola, but the question is which instrument you want to play better. If you want to be also a professional violist such as Maxim Vengerov, you also should play 3-4 hours minimum a day besides your violin practice, which means 8-9 hours of playing violin&viola (which is impossible for me). But, if you are thinking about playing as an amateur or for hobby, 1-2 hours is enough.

February 17, 2012 at 03:25 AM · Last spring there was a thread about how to best warm up even w.o. the violin if necessary, and it spread to practice routines. Here is what I wrote there that I think is relevant here:

This also touches on a larger issue of how best to practice, generally. There are great players who go the very traditional route of scales, excersises and etudes prior to any work on repertoire. Then there are those who feel that they can get all the technique necessary with repertoire alone. I'm more in the first category - except that I don't believe in regular etude practice once you've achieved a high level of advancement. They are great at the building stage, but once you're on a high plateau, I feel that they are often more meandering than necessary for a busy professional. Some Bach movements and many orchestral excerpts make great etudes - w.o. precluding musicality, and kill two birds with one stone. That said, I will ocassionally prescribe an etude for myself.

What I do find extremely helpful is the system of excersises and scales that I put together for myself a long time ago, with some ocasional tweaking. Some exercises and routines I've taken from various sources, and some I've made up entirely myself. But the whole system, with the order and sequence is my own. I call it "Quintessential Violin Technique" or "QVT". It's in the general tradtition of such works as the Flesch Urstudien and the Dounis Daily Dozen. But my approach is more extensive and at the same time, I feel more 'muscle friendly'. It is a carefully considered workout that eases rather than plunges me into the violin. It takes anywhere from about 70-90 minutes, depending on diffrerent factors. I understand that such greats as Zimbalist and Heifetz had very similar routines, each in their own way. I'm a busy professional who does orchestra, solo work etc. and I find that making the time for this has done me a world of good. I can feel it at a rehearsal when many younger players are much more tired than I am, and just in my chops as such. No such approach can possibly anticipate every type of passage or contingency. But my approach keeps me in good general violinistic condition to handle all sorts of things at the gig.

So what about warming-up at the gig itself before it starts? I have a 5 and even if necessary a one minute version of all the above. Will that make me feel completely warmed-up? No - but it helps. How much warming up I feel I need or don't need depends on such factors as how much I have or haven't practiced earlier that day, how much typing I've done on a certain addictive site we all know, as well as how much driving I've done to get to the gig, what 'schleping' I've done in the long or not so long walk from the car, with my case, stand, et al.

There's a psychological aspect as well. If I'm running late and will be lucky after a very long drive to just visit the men's room, and then tune and play maybe a few notes, visualising warming up, even when feeling frazzled helps - though it's not a 100% substitute. Sometimes listening to and/or watching a video of a favorite fiddler will get my fingers itching to play, and I would need less physical warming-up to get in the groove.

Sometimes nerves actually help! The adreniline, if not too overboard, can give us a boost. The couple of times I've performed the Bach E major Partita, the adreniline absolutely helped me on stage at a point where I got tired in the comfort of the practice room. And I've spoken some time back of the time I attended a master class of my old professor, Glenn Dicterow as, so I thought, an innocent bystander, only to be taken by suprise, and asked by Glenn to try out a violin after the class in front of everybody! I couldn't talk too coherently at first, but I played not too badly. In any case, though, I do strongly feel that it is not healthy to plunge into something too physically challenging w.o. being warmed-up - one of the points Janet Horvath emphasizes [Playing Less Hurt]. I'm usually a punctuality freak, and so the following scenario has only happended just a handful of times in my professional career, where I got to an orchestral rehearsal just in time to get my violin out as they were giving the A. Zero time to warm-up. Or was there? What I actually did in those cases was to go through the motions of playing full out, but actually playing sotto voce for the first few minutes or so, till my muscles warmed up. Also there have been times when I would have to leave my house early in the morning to get to a gig, w.o. so much as opening my case to count the strings!. No QVT that day; just time enough to do my 5 minure routine at the gig. That's good psychologically too, to know that I can dispense with it now and then, and not be totally dependent on it.

May 11, 2012 at 08:34 AM · Ellie: Your schedule looks good. I just think, spending time on right hand basics, wich is bow exercises could be very beneficial too. Maybe you cover this with the etudes somehow. But I like to work on the very foundation when warming up. That means to me first position intonation and quickness with Schradieck, different bow strokes on Kreutzer 2 or scales. After that I feel ready for actual scales over 3 octaves.

June 12, 2012 at 05:00 AM · Ellie, my coach has me practicing things like up-bow staccato with my 3-octave scales. Patterns of 3 or 4 staccatos to each note. It's a great way to accomplish two coordinated activities simultaneously.

June 12, 2012 at 05:24 AM · Simon, thank you for the good advice on 1st position work. So true! It's annoying and unfortunate to be able to run through smoothly with all the high position tricky notes and then hear an off note on the 1st position -- happens all the time:)

June 12, 2012 at 12:47 PM · Back in February I wrote a pretty long post, where I mentioned my own system that I call "Quintessential Violin Technique" or "QVT". I might publish it one day, but meanwhile I'll just unpack it a little bit. It consists of 4 parts. Part I includes finger exercises, a lot of shifting exercises, 1, 2, and 3 finger scales up each string, etc. Part II includes more typical scale work in different tempos and rythmic groupings, with a metronome. Part III focuses on scales in double stops as well as some harmonics and left-hand pizzicato. Part IV focuses on the bow, with a thorough review of many bowing techniques. In much of this, I return to scales, using them in all different kinds of bowings. It all takes about 70-90 minutes.

The next practice session will be on repertoire. And that's usually it. If I do a 3rd session, it will ususally focus on a composing or arranging project, and while I take it seriously as musical work, I don't consider that practicing, as whatever fiddling or piano-ing I do, is just to briefly test something out.

I've sometimes been asked by colleagues "how much do you practice?" I tell them honestly that unless I'm preparing for a recital, etc. it rarely exceeds a couple of hours a day. I'd often see by their faces that they're surprized - even dubious. No one usually likes to have their word doubted, but in this case I consider it a back-handed compliment. My "QVT" is very efficient. It's like a nutritional suppliment that packs in evey vitamin, mineral, omega group, amino acids and loads of other things, into a concetrated but digestable dose.

June 13, 2012 at 05:26 AM · The white board diagram from Simon Fischer reminds me of the graffiti on the wall of Ray Finckle's room in the Ace Ventura Pet Detective movie. Pathology, anyone????

Keep it simple and always practice in front of a nice big mirror and with an electronic tune, both of which will keep you honest.

I have recently found that doing scales with extremely slow, even forced slow, vibrato where the finger joint flattens out totally has made a great improvement in both vibrato and tone in general.

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