Do you practice everyday?

December 8, 2015 at 02:50 AM · Thinking about having an off day to give the muscles a rest but, that's about 3 hours per week that I'm losing. Thoughts?

Replies (23)

December 8, 2015 at 03:15 AM · Greetings,

I am not sure if it is exactly a question of giving muscles a rest. My reasoning is that what we are doing is not the same as progressive weight training. I think there comes a point where the body is not too bothered by the violin although a break now and again for physical purposes is a good idea. To my mind it relates more to the ideas from the field of psychology about assimilating new ideas. The mind creates cetain information structures which may be added to or completely destabilized by new information. That is why we sometimes seem to get worse instead of better. That being the case, a day off to digest what one is learning seems to be a good idea. I am not really a big fan of the continuous daily practice school although as a discipline i can umderstand why it is done. Menuhin advocated one day of fa week but he tended to push himself way too hard anyway. In practice I think when and how much time off you take is rather perosnal. For some it might be every two weeks for example.

Related to is isssue I think is the obsession with the number of hours we violnists seem to revel in. You say you are losing three hpurs, but what does that really mean, I wonder? Three hours in of itself is simpky a unit of time and it is itterly impossible to specify an equivalent jump or value in terms of violin technique accoridng to units of time. We would probab

y all be much better off thinking in terms of what we want to achieve. Unfortunately this also requires the help of a teacher in spelling out exactly what is wanted by e next lesson rather than leaving the student floundering around in the dark wondering how exactly they are expected to play next lesson. This is dicssued in detail in a book called ,The Practice Revolution,, which is well wroth reading. As an illustration of this Midori responded to the question about how much practice by saying 'I do as much as is required to meet my obligations as a cocnert violinst. That usually works out at three or fpur hours a day.' Notice she didnt say she practice four hours a day because she instinctively recognizes the difference. I think one reason olde rgeneration violinsts appeared to, and probab

y did practic eless is because they played fewer concerts with less varied repertoire a lot of the time.

Idle thoughts,


December 8, 2015 at 04:16 AM · I practice 'almost' every day. every once in a while I don't play for some reason. Spring, Summer and Fall I'm out busking for 3 hours, and usually I'm too tired to do any more you could count that as practicing or not. but if I notice I'm getting a bit sloppy when busking, I knuckle down, and 'practice' doing the tunes to the best of my ability. I also do a lot of jamming, which I do count as practicing.... practicing Improv.

Over the winter, I put an hour in of 'concentrated' practice on whatever I'm working on before I go jamming for another couple of hours.

December 8, 2015 at 05:26 AM · Greetings,

yes, that raises another interesting question. What exactly do you count as practicing? Can we count studying and memorising a piece from the score ? Learning a piece on the piano first a la ASM and so on...



December 8, 2015 at 05:28 AM · I find that practicing with my brain analyzing what I do cannot be measured in hours.

I simply practice each task until I make a noticeable improvement or observation that helps that day, then move on to the next part of practice.

Unless I need to repeat something to get it to stick (like a certain shift) this ensures that I process the information without overworking my brain and hands, and saves practice time.

Also, I usually always take a day off every week, and Heifetz also did this too. I simply feel that more than about -4 hours of thoughtful practice is impossible to keep up or even do once for almost everybody, so I think in terms of quality rather than quantity.

Case in point: Sometimes my scale work fr the day will take a few minutes until I figure out the issues, whereas other days it might take about an hour as I work out all the issues and then use correct repetition to enforce correct intonation and bow use. :)

December 8, 2015 at 06:34 AM · I think it is acceptable to take a day off or two of practice on an occasion basis. If you really think you get tired then you could practice for a shorter period per day or split your practice period in to smaller chunks.

December 8, 2015 at 10:02 AM · I practice everyday anywhere from an hour to two hours unless something pops up that prevents me from practicing but thankfully that doesn't happen often.

I used to feel guilty for the days I miss practice until I read that Heifetz and Menuhin, etc. believed in taking a day in the week off. So I learnt not to feel guilty about missing practice and I even embraced the idea of preserving enthusiasm by taking Sundays off. After experimenting with this, I still felt that it set me back about a practice session. I actually prefer just practicing for a shorter period of time or just doing something completely different and exciting whenever I feel like I need a break, as Ella suggested above. Although, I'm almost certain if I practiced three or more hours a day I would have taken Sundays off.

I do still feel very guilty when I miss more than one day per week. When it happens it's something out of my control and I get very upset. Admittedly, sometimes to the extent that I'm nervous and intimidated to resume practice. Perhaps it's something I should overcome but as I mentioned before it happens very infrequently. Does anybody else ever feel like that?

Surprisingly, I'm fairly content to practice for an hour or two per day and the progress I make seems tangible. It's hard to say how long I would practice for if I were a professional but it would certainly be longer than what I do now. I'm comforted by the fact that so many kids have reached a proficient level of playing with short, daily practice sessions and Pamela Frank even advocates a shorter, more focussed practice session.

Related, I think there's lots of old misconceptions about practice and progress in general that still persist. For example, the notion that it takes hours upon hours of practicing all day long without having a life beside practice to attain virtuosity. I've read comments on this forum stating Heifetz practiced eight hours per day, little do they know he said he only practiced three!

Another one is that adult starters cannot progress as fast as children or cannot attain the same level of playing (given the same time and opportunities) is total rubbish. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to even suggest that. I was even told by a professional trumpeter once that I can't take up violin because the left hand wrist of a child grows (malformed) with the violin as they grow up. Believe it or not I've heard this garbage several times before. Many musicians and teachers don't even realise that technique is in the ears as opposed to the fingers. I believe with all my heart that given the same commitment and training, absolutely any normal, healthy person/child can master any instrument. Obviously you do get people with higher and lower aptitude that will learn a bit quicker or take a bit longer. Unfortunately, some people tend to get all sacred and pompous about art. These aforementioned beliefs are actually just limiting.

December 8, 2015 at 02:03 PM · Glad you got that off your chest, David.

Coming back to the original question, my guess is that if you physically "need" a day off, you're probably overdoing it in some way. But I like Buri's idea of using a day differently here and there -- reading or studying or singing or whatever might tend to add dimension and artistry to your playing. I think many of us do this when we're constrained in some way, traveling or whatever.

December 8, 2015 at 09:34 PM · As I was studying and preparing my exam concert, I used to practice at average 4 hours a day. I splitted it in two or three sessions, one directly after or sometimes even before breakfast. And one or two later that day, depending on my schedule. During that time I had the habit to take every sunday completely off as a rigid rule. It not only helped me to stay fresh, but also got me exited for monday since the day after the day off I felt very good on the violin, because after all the practice the muscles were more relaxed after the day off. Its somehow like a supercompensation in sports. It feels the same to me.

Now when Iam teaching much more, I still try to practice every day, but the amount depends on how much time I have to spare. It can vary from 1 to 4 hours. But as an average it is about 1 and a half. But at the weekend I don't take days off anymore, unless I going for a trip to a different city. That means, on saturday and sunday i am about average 3 hours right now. In holiday time I tend to be around 2-3 hours average aswell. When I have a important concert and time to spare, I go much higher though.

December 8, 2015 at 10:42 PM · I practice until I'm done and then I stop. That is usually every day but maybe not. I must feel that something tangible is happening. I think a day off occasionally can be a valuable learning tool. My fear about practicing is to sound the same after a session as when I started.

So, I guess my answer for this thread is "no" but that is matter of maintaining a certain discipline.

December 8, 2015 at 11:38 PM · I practice early in the morning too, but only when I have a very busy day with no time to practice anytime else.

December 9, 2015 at 01:49 AM · Depends!

If I'm working on something that I'll be performing, then yes.

If there's no performances in the upcoming near future, then I play every day I can unless life gets in the way and by the end of the day there's no time left to play.

December 9, 2015 at 07:36 AM · "Glad you got that off your chest, David."

Apologies, I realise I ranted a bit!

December 9, 2015 at 10:10 AM ·

December 9, 2015 at 11:14 AM · No need to apologize as far as I'm concerned, David. I read your whole post and I can identify with what you said. I too can feel a bit anxious when I miss too much practice time. another post a little further down said something like.... if you take a day off then you feel refreshed and excited about playing. When I read your post, I mostly thought, now here's a fellow who loves the violin.

December 9, 2015 at 02:19 PM · Thanks Dave :)

December 9, 2015 at 07:22 PM · Thanks for the answers. Cool to see that most people don't think violin muscles need rest. My teacher said to practice based on objectives and not worry too much about "time" and I agree with her but, I want to set aside time to focus solely on violin playing as to juggle it with work/school/exercise and maintain discipline. I'm going to practice for 1.5 hours every day, except on Sundays where I think I can pull off 3. Thanks!

December 9, 2015 at 08:36 PM · Dave and David, yes, we're all in this together to have fun.

December 9, 2015 at 11:23 PM · I agree with Christian R. that we all need to balance our time.

February 5, 2016 at 11:17 PM · Good idea!

Your muscles rest and YOUR BRAIN rest, and you miss the violin when you rest and then you are happy to play it again.

I like to rest. Teachers say I was lucky because I don't "lose technique" when I take days of violin hollidays. But I suggest it to everybody. :)

February 6, 2016 at 02:12 AM · I am rather inconsistent. Efficiency is what counts though and one has to be careful not to let things slide when playing tons of orchestra.

February 6, 2016 at 02:15 AM · Generally, schedule permitting, I've always liked to take 1 day off per week - not always the same day. I find it helpful both physically and psychologically - sometimes more one or the other. Violin muscles are muscles, too - and tendons, etc. I find it refreshing as part of a cycle. I usually look forward to my day off as well as to my day back on.

February 6, 2016 at 04:57 AM · I never really take exact holidays from the violin as I don't practice an awful lot per day. I don't practice every day of the week but I play every day of the week unless I'm on vacation or something.

February 6, 2016 at 06:31 PM · I don't practice every day, but this is a matter of lack of discipline plus the exigencies of life, not a matter of intention.

I do try to actively listen to what I'm working on, score in hand, on days when I don't practice.

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