Do you love practicing?

June 28, 2016 at 04:14 AM · I was just curious as to how people at different levels feel about practice time. I'm a beginner, about 7 months in, and I love practicing. Sometimes I'd rather do other things, but I always enjoy once I start. For new players, practicing is all we have for our playing time.

How about other beginners? What about experienced players? Do you still enjoy your practice time?

Replies (45)

June 28, 2016 at 04:52 AM · I think I am a little bit past the beginner's stage, but I'll tell you this.

When I (re)started playing violin, of course, without a teacher, it was frustrating, and a very slow process. I also refrained from using the mute, because it muted all of the mistakes I was making, and also I had a $100 Palatino VSO.

I did not quite enjoy the practices themselves, but I enjoyed the fact that I was progressing with it.

I practiced about once a week.

After a few months, I found and returned to the violin I had when I was 9 years old. It was bearable, but dull sounding violin. The practice became somewhat enjoyable.

I practiced about twice a week.

After 3 years in, I moved up to an $800 old German violin, best I could find in that price range and I started enjoying practices.

I practiced everyday.

after 3.5 years in, I moved up to my current, a $2800 contemporary violin. It's by far the best sounding violin that came in contact with my hands. I really love the sound of it, and when I am not focused at work, playing the violin is all that I can think about, and I practice about twice a day, 2 hour sessions, sometimes I skip sleeping entirely to play it.

At this point, the only thing that keeps me from practicing is injuries and work.

June 28, 2016 at 06:29 AM · I really enjoyed reading that, Steve.

June 28, 2016 at 08:41 AM · Me too!

Of course I enjoy progressing, (even at 67 yo!), but I also enjoy maintaining and improving what I already do. When practicing basics and scales, I enjoy trying for the best tone, and the various physical motions be they supple, dynamic, gentle or tonic.

We love music, love playing and sharing it, and love playing it as well as possible. Three distinct but associated pleasures..

Steven's post also shows the need for an adequate, well setup instrument.

June 28, 2016 at 09:10 AM · I've been thinking about whether I enjoy practicing quite a bit this week. Reason being it seems with the violin you do a lot more technical work than actually playing. I've heard it said before that pianists seem to actually play a lot more than violinists do, working on their pieces (of course pianists also do technical work). I could relate to this in the sense that as a former guitarist it also seems like you spend more time actually playing as a guitarist.

Naturally, one strives for a balance between technical work and just playing & working on new repertoire.

June 28, 2016 at 09:15 AM · In an hour-long (or hour-short?) session, I will do 20 minutes basics and scales (and very imporatant, arpeggios), 20 minutes passages from repertoire treated as studies and 20 minutes playing.

June 28, 2016 at 09:46 AM · It's about the same for me however, I have one day in the week where I just play the whole practice session to just enjoy the fruit of my labor.

June 28, 2016 at 10:09 AM · Sometimes practicing is the best thing that is happening to me in that moment. Actually playing the violin is that.

But, I'm not gonna lie. There has been days of practicing where I wanted to smash really bad the violin against the floor. Specially the first 2 years when you overcome the "beginner state". Those days when you're practicing a lot but still your bow and sound are awful.

June 28, 2016 at 10:18 AM · Tim, I don't think we spend enough minutes on just tone.

I see two opposite approaches, depending on temperament, weather etc, either

- honing down a big, crunchy tone, like a sculptor seeking a fluid form inside a block of granite; or

- starting with a Sweet Small Voice and nourishing it from within to make a deep, big voice. (My preference.)

June 28, 2016 at 11:10 AM · NO

June 28, 2016 at 11:17 AM · Hi Corey,

Thanks for bringing up this interesting subject.

I love practising and always have done. Just a shame that now, being a very busy teacher, I have too little time for my own practice. However, I love practising with my students, whatever level of playing.

What exactly do I like about it? I love exploring new ways of dealing with issues that come up in the music. Whether it is exploring different fingerings, trying out different positions, or experimenting with phrasing and articulation, it all makes you understand passages better and helps with what I call 'deeper learning'. I sounds very nerdy, I know, and I am definitely not a nerd, but I find this extremely addictive and in a way much more satisfying than just playing a piece through from the beginning to the end.

Henriette de Vrijer, Pro-Am Strings

June 28, 2016 at 11:46 AM · Peter, you are a cheerful soul :) Bless you!

June 28, 2016 at 01:13 PM · Is practicing songs, melodies or established tunes still practicing ?

At first, I disliked regular practicing and now I find it totally boring even if necessary. ( i.e. the rites of passage library )

I would much rather challenge a simple sonata, etc. Would that be practicing?

June 28, 2016 at 02:25 PM · Well thanks.

I would have to say that I enjoyed practicing more, as I got better violin and bow.

The German violin I had in particular, it sounded great, very soft voice, and a little bit lack in power, and rather low string height, which kept on causing me to "frog" the top, whenever I get into aggressive playing. The irony now though is that current violin has gotten so loud, I wear an earplug to my left ear to play.

Also, as I almost regularly go through a secondary violins(or viola) nowdays, I face new challenges, new finger spacings, and new ways to make the new instrument to sing well. Also, being physically active, I come up with new injuries from time to time, often in hands, which forces me to explore new fingering and bowing techniques.

From exploring new methods, I try to pick out the best qualities of each, and make adjustments on how I play.

As an example, from having my right pinky fractured, I learn to do down bow staccato better when I put more force on the ring finger. From playing viola, I learn to shift better, from playing electric violin, I learn to play aggressively more confidently. From using baroque bows(from yitamusic), I learn to be more confident with playing near frog with a modern bow, etc.

June 28, 2016 at 02:25 PM · The Suzuki method is an example of using attractive and well chosen pieces to build technique, but where fragments are used and extended as exercises.

To play the simple sonata in a satisfying and enjoyable way, one can isolate difficulties and work at them from an angle of ease and quality. What we cannot avoid is the necessity of repeating the improvements many times so they "sink in". Much more fun than scales (which I use)and studies (which I don't)!

June 28, 2016 at 04:17 PM · Interesting points, guys.

I hated practicing when I was younger (I can't remember hating practice, but that's what my guardians told me) because it was repetitive and things were so easy. Now I enjoy playing. I don't hate practice. I can't say I love it either, but at least I get to play, which is fun.

June 28, 2016 at 04:52 PM · For the most part I enjoy practicing. When I feel that I am learning and getting better I'm even more motivated to practice more. If I am assigned a piece that is either above my technical ability or I am not feeling the music, I tend to get discouraged. There is certainly a joy in learning to play a challenging piece, but there is a fine line between being stuck versus making just enough progress forward in the music that the goal is attainable.

I'll be honest and say that I'm in a practice rut right now. Its been 2 weeks. I've been assigned the 1st movement of the bach double for the summer and I'm just not feeling this piece at all. I don't think I even like this music.

June 28, 2016 at 05:07 PM · David F

Well, I've been practicing for about 3-4 hours a day for the last 3 weeks as I want to play a few of the 10 Violin sonatas by a geezer called Beethoven or some such name, and they are harder than I originally thought, especially musically. Today I'm feeling a bit frustrated.

I suppose over the years I've done quite a bit, but not always loving it. Sometimes it is great, other times a bit tedious. I know it shouldn't be, but that's life ...

June 28, 2016 at 06:08 PM · What really keeps me going is looking back at the point where a piece was assigned and how hard it was, and weeks later seeing the huge improvement and almost laughing about how hard it seemed. (Now, I'm only talking about a beginnger's book, but still...)

June 28, 2016 at 06:44 PM · I love practicing. I sometimes wish I were better at it, though.

June 28, 2016 at 09:22 PM · I often want to have practiced rather than wanting to go and practice. :-)

When I'm in the right mood, and especially if the practice session is productive, I really enjoy practicing. Sometimes it's just a chore, though, and if I'm tired or distracted, it is neither fun nor very productive.

June 28, 2016 at 10:44 PM · I love violins and listening to violin music but I do not enjoy practice but just do it for the end result. I arise an hour early to get one hour practice done before work and try for two hours after work and practice seven days a week. Weekends I want to get my three hours in by noontime so the rest of the day is free.

Not fond of and don't like to practice and often wonder why I have stuck it out so long. I suppose in a way I am impressed with my own playing and there is a wow factor sometimes as when I listen to a recording of a jam session.

I like Peter Charles reply to this question, 'NO'.

Now, more practice.

June 29, 2016 at 12:35 AM · I absolutely love it, but it does require the better concentration to better enjoy it (not to mention, have productive hours). Right now as I type, I am even itching for more, and want to hold and play my instrument soon. There's always a new piece to learn, and older works to polish. It's beautifully addicting, really.

June 29, 2016 at 01:50 AM · I do enjoy practicing, but I would enjoy it more if I was better at it, and if I was more disciplined about it, and if I could give it the best part of my day.

June 29, 2016 at 06:52 AM · I started practicing the violin Janurary 5th 2016, and I've only missed two days in that time. I work long shifts up north and there are times I'm so tired that I know practicing will be super unproductive, but I dredge through my self loathing and force myself to play a few scales and maybe one run through the pieces I'm learning. I know it's not super useful, but I figure any amount of time the violin is in my hands is better than not.

When I'm just too exhausted, I'll put more time in studying and reading so I feel better about the 15 minute practice session. Haha. Or I'll make it up when I'm home with 3hr sessions.

June 29, 2016 at 07:31 AM · I also do this when I am not practicing my violin:

June 29, 2016 at 03:34 PM · Yes, I love practising, because as an older hobby fiddler, I am playing only the music that I want to play, or practising the skills which will help me to play that music.

When I was practising for a violin exam, I found practice more of a chore. And when I was a child, I didn't enjoy it, because there were so many other things that I had to work at - academic tests etc - so I never got any better & I knew that I sounded dire.

But now my objective has become 'to play the music that I love the best that I can'. So any playing is a blessing, including practice.

My fiddle my joy.

June 29, 2016 at 06:47 PM · As a student preparing for auditions, practicing is not one of the most fun things ever but I still love it. Even when I have to play a measure 50 times to get it right, I love the feeling of accomplishment when I get it right. I'm not too sure where I am in the grand scheme of things, I am past beginner and intermediate but I still have lots to learn before being a "professional" so I guess I am advanced.

June 29, 2016 at 07:10 PM · Reebecca

What age is 5th Grade in the US? (In your profile you said you started violin then).

June 29, 2016 at 07:36 PM · I don't enjoy practicing much. I just don't have the right attitude. Every piece ever, pretty much, has always been a mere stepping stone in my head to bigger and better things which is for the most part not really fair.

Also I've become a perfectionist. I'm not publicly performing anymore if theres even a slight change of making a mistake. Takes the fun out of everything pretty much (I used to like performing).

June 29, 2016 at 07:40 PM · I practice at least an hour a day, and love it. I don't separate the concept of playing from practice. I love to play the violin so I love it all. When I was studying ballet, I loved the repetitive barre exercises as much as the actual choreographed dances we learned. I think of playing daily violin scales as those limbering barre ballet exercises.I guess I just enjoy the discipline all tied up in one amazing and challenging package.

June 29, 2016 at 10:57 PM · Peter, a typical 5th-grader in the US is ca. 10 years old.

June 29, 2016 at 11:18 PM ·

June 29, 2016 at 11:22 PM · I don't care to play in front of people so, I practice when I feel like it. At the end of the days that I don't practice, I always feel guilty and bad about myself. Anyone else get that way?

June 30, 2016 at 06:39 AM · @Paul

Thanks Paul, I was comparing with the UK where it would be 11 + 5 so approximately age 15-16.

@Leon - we all get a lot of guilt when we don't play, amateur and professional. It's a bit like being on a drug, only worse.

June 30, 2016 at 09:07 AM · I second that, I didn't play last night to fight off the start of a cold and I still feel guilty & bad about myself. I do believe in taking one day a week off & do so guilt free. But in this case I've already made plans for Saturday during my usual practice time. Great, now I'm scheming how I can still fit it in to atone for last night...

June 30, 2016 at 02:19 PM · A US 5th grader is the equivalent of UK-system Primary 5.

June 30, 2016 at 02:41 PM · And it's not just guilt. I also feel like I missed something. Maybe it's withdrawal symptoms like Peter said.

June 30, 2016 at 02:59 PM · I wonder if a bouquet of flowers for my violin will bring forgiveness?

June 30, 2016 at 03:07 PM · Yes, but it won't forget!

June 30, 2016 at 03:09 PM · I actually love practicing. It's getting myself started each day that's the issue. I have to remind myself over and over that I do enjoy it.

But I do really enjoy fixing things. This is why performing and playing with other people is really not quite as fun as practicing. Well, unless the people I'm playing with are just as persnickety about working on the parts that need improvement as I am.

I also consider just playing through tunes I already know as practicing just so long as I'm concentrating on tone, phrasing, and getting intonation right etc. It's all work, as long as I'm paying attention. But when my attention slips, I'd just as soon walk away for the day.

July 4, 2016 at 03:54 PM · Even though I have been only playing the violin for four years and have made a ridiculous amount of progress, my love of practicing has still been growing.

I find that creative practicing in your own way helps you enjoy practicing far more than any music teacher. A teacher is a bit like playing scales - very technical but not really musically very helpful. The musicality has to come from you alone. I will give you details in my practice later. I get bored after practicing for an intense 1 hour for some reason but I always recover later on in the day.

July 5, 2016 at 03:28 AM · for about the past 3 years I've been doing a LOT of playing. Busking for about 2 1/2 hours, then jamming with acoustic guitar players for another couple of hours. Besides playing my busking tunes, all I do is improvise/accompany the singer/guitar players. My playing has improved a lot with the jamming. I've been playing now for 40 years, so I've got quite a bit in my bag of tricks for improv. I've been taking them out of the bag and finding more and more applications for these 'tricks' in a 'live' situation. I'm playing better than I ever have.

July 9, 2016 at 05:30 PM · It really depends. If you're at a really high level where you're learning really advance pieces like Paganini, Mendelssohn, Mozart, and even Vivaldi from your music teacher, yes you're going to love it very much.

Right now, I'm still learning Paganini's Caprice 24 on the violin. I love it so far. I want to play it in a huge audience someday, but I don't think I will sound the best. LOL!

(To the person who posted the blog) If you have a passion for your instrument, Keep practicing. Once you get to the high levels, it's so much fun!

July 15, 2016 at 03:46 AM · This thread made me transition from lurker to registered member.

My answer is a loud YES! When I wake up on mornings that I have free time, my first thought is: WHOO HOO! I can go practice! Sometimes I kiss my fiddle's scroll before I pack it away.

Now, I'm not always happy WHILE I'm practicing, but I feel so lucky to be able to again. You see, 20+ years ago I had to stop playing due to a car accident that messed up my neck. A year ago last January, I came across an "appliance" that allows me to play without using my head/neck at all. I'm just so grateful to have the instrument back in my life! So again, a resounding, YES.

July 15, 2016 at 07:24 AM · I think I would say the answer is yes and no. When things are going well and one has addressed a problem or two, it is great to practise. When things don't go so well and a problem is confronting one, then practising is a pain. Then it is time for putting the fiddle away and going for longs walks and at the same time thinking about the issues and sorting them out mentally, or approaching the problem laterally. It's always good to have a dog with you as he/she brings one back to reality and you can see how logically a dog will approach a problem (like another dog). She also sometimes groans when I am practicing if I've been digging in too much and the sound has deteriorated.

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