Practice Without a Violin

June 4, 2004 at 03:14 PM · hi- could anyone suggest some types of exercises that can be done without the violin? Either hand exercises or such? Also- i know that scales are really important, what is the best way to practice them? For intonation? Finger paterns in that key? Thanks so much.

Replies (10)

June 4, 2004 at 05:50 PM · The best practice you can do without your instrument is simply to play through your pieces mentally without moving your fingers or arms.

By "play through" I mean not only HEARING the notes but FEELING the fingerings, shifts and bowings as they should feel when you are playing well.

You may find that you need to use the music for pieces which you thought you already knew by heart. Don't worry about that.

This technique requires a lot of concentration and it might take some time for you to get good at it. I've found it to be extremely helpful, especially before performances.

June 4, 2004 at 08:42 PM · Greetings,

in some senses I agree 100% wit Peter"s point. Mental practice is both fundamental to advance dplaying and largely ignored by young players until they wise up to what this business is really about.

At the same time, there are less cerebral aspect of playing that can be practiced (and shouldbe) to keep the body in shape and they may be vital on tours and such when practice is limited or seemingly imposisble.

They naturally divide into left and right hand. From a left perspecive there rae a finite number of fnger actions that are covered in the Flesch Unrstudien and more extnesively in the book Basics by Simon Fischer. Flesch was actually somewhat opposed to silent exericses because he claimes tey had an adverse effecton intonation and the Urstudien was intended as an emergency measure for soloits on trains. He bitterlyregretted the way it became adopted as a technical handbookbymany young players. Milstein is alos opposed ot silent practicing of this type. There are also a small number of left armmovements to do such as slidingfrom the top to the btom of the fingerboard with the hand in the Geminiani chord position. Then one can spend quite a lot of time on silent vuibrato exercises (taken from Basics). I stronly advocate this practice.

There are also three basic finger actions of the right hand that shoudl be practice almost daily and can be done both away from the instrument, holding the bow and with everyhting.

One can also practice son gfile with the bow an inch above the string.

Basics coversmost of these exercises ins ome detail.

After that practice yoga,



June 4, 2004 at 08:51 PM · Rachel, are you going on vacation or what? Buri's yoga suggestion is great - any slow stretches or rotations which keep the body supple will help you get back to the violin with greater ease when you do.

Also, sing: this is one of the best ways to work on phrasing.

June 4, 2004 at 09:45 PM · definetely singing, you should have heard the debussy quratet before and after we sang it

June 4, 2004 at 10:53 PM · I love the mental practice approach because I can usually accomplish something when sitting on the bus not to mention it really helps with not security and giving me a clear idea in my mind of how I want things to sound when playing on the violin.

June 4, 2004 at 11:37 PM · Singing is, of course, an excellent form of practice. However, I've spent many hours practicing on planes and trains just reading through my music. It's amazing the problems I've worked out without the instrument. It's obvious where my problem areas are in the music; my mind grinds to a halt while reading, just as it does when I'm physically playing the piece. I then take the time to go back and rework the problem in my mind. I'm often surprised at the progress I've made when I pick up the violin hours later.


June 5, 2004 at 12:56 AM · Greetings,

sorry I don"t exactly answer you quesiton due to sleep deprivation. I wa shalf thinking you had the isnturment with you and just wanted to be noisless. Nonethless, a lot of these kinds of stuff can be practiced eitehr with a pencil or just using the hands to imitate the istrument.

For example, suppose you want to improve the flexing of you finger joints. You can use the right hand as a base and vibrate each finger on the back of it while keeping the thumb on the palm.

Then you mightwant to workon keeping the left upper arm awayfrom the body a little (a real danger point) so as you practice the vib lift your right hand higher and higehr back obver your left shoulder.

Just one exmaple of many,



June 5, 2004 at 07:09 PM · i've spent a great deal of time doing cole and other finger strokes with a pencil while in class

June 5, 2004 at 07:27 PM · I find myself trying to see and hear the piece I'm trying to memorize in slow motion in my head with my fingers not moving at all. I usually can't do it that slow, which means that I have to memorize it again and again. I'm trying to memorize the Bach Partita no.3...all of it, which is very daunting for me. Every time I think I have the prelude or any other mvt. memorized, I test myself while going to sleep at night with this exercise. Then I know which sections are more likely to fall apart during nervous performance. Usually don't get past the first page. But that's O.K. I have all summer and fall:)

June 7, 2004 at 06:06 PM · I often carry a pocket score in my bag. I don't yet do this as often as I'd like, but the idea is to use it to practice things like interval recognition, naming high notes, key identification, sight-singing... etc.

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