How do I practice for four hours?

September 3, 2004 at 05:31 AM · Well I've decided that I need way more practice on the violin. I noticed it when I was practicing my usual 30 mins a day. I recorded myself with my video camera and noticed my technique and sound. My technique was horrible and my sound was much worse. I felt horrible about my playing. I know I'm still partially a beginner, but I started late and I wanted to make up for it. So I've decided to practice for four hours a day, meaning eliminating tv, practicing piano for an hour, and discluding all the things I usually do.

My question is, how do I go from a half hour of practicing a day to four hours a day? I would do three, but I kind of want to discipline myself for it and I would do five but I don't have much time after school. So what's your advice for practicing four hours a day? It wouldn't be so hard for me if I didn't have a problem with getting bored so easily. Even after 30 mins I get tired and bored.

Sorry for all the complaining but I don't know what else to do. Plus I want to get a lot more serious about the violin.

Thankyou for any advice!

-sara

Replies (50)

September 3, 2004 at 06:20 AM · Maxim Vengerov would hardly have practiced for more the 20 minutes if he didnĀ“t have a mom that forced him to practice 8 hours every day.

She said that he would be very rich if he became a great violinsolist, she cried and did everything she possible could to make him practice.

Not much help perhaps, but...

September 3, 2004 at 06:38 AM · It's not so much about how long you spend practising as what you do with your practice time. 30 mins of concentrated practice is far better for you than 2 hours of unfocused practice.

If you can't concentrate for long, I would divide up your practice time into sections across the day. For example, start by doing 30 - 45 mins of scales, then take a break. Then practise a piece for 1 hr (or whatever.) Try and practise for a while in the morning and a while in the afternoon/evening.

Carl.

September 3, 2004 at 08:52 AM · When people say they do 4 hours of practice a day, it's usually not 4 hours of continuous practicing. They may do an hour in the morning of technical work, possibly find an hour during the day, and then 2 hours in the evening, possibly one when you get home, then another one when there's nothing on telly.

I don't say I practice for 3 hours a day because I know it's not true, I practice for 3 sessions a day, which last for 45 minutes. I have one in the morning, usually one at uni, then another one at home (which gives me alot of time for socialising and doing things I enjoy). The human mind can really only seriously concentrate for 45 minutes at a time, so since most people plan their practice sessions to do the most work towards the end of their practice sessions, wouldn't it make sense to do the hardest work while you're still concentration, ie from 30-45 minutes, instead of doing it while you're not concentration, ie 45-60 mintues.

September 3, 2004 at 04:50 PM · I agree with the previous suggestions (split your times up say 30min slots)-you should focus on specific things you want to achieve like mini goals. So you're not jsut "practising" for the sake of it. For example, you could set yourself of achieving good sound and intonation production in a couple of scales rather than just playing them terribly parrot-fashion every day. Then you'll get somewhere and you'll be pleased after each practice session.

Hope that helps!

One-Sim :)

September 3, 2004 at 08:18 PM · Please be really careful not to hurt yourself physically by increasing too fast. What happens is that you start off using the correct posture, muscles, etc. After a while you fatigue, which is perfectly normal, and then you start to compensate for the failing muscles by distorting your posture, using other muscles incorrectly, and ultimately just ignoring the discomfort that is telling you to stop. Then...something gets pulled, inflammed, or broken and you can't play at all without pain. Plus, you have been practicing incorrectly!

So, increase gradually and pay careful attention to what your body and mind are telling you.

September 3, 2004 at 10:18 PM · definetely work up to that. but every time you get bored, just switch whatever you're working on. if you work on sevcik for an hour straight you're gonna get bored, this is a stupid idea anyway. so just change up what you're working on whenever tyou getr bored, there's always tons to work on. tak e alittle break every hour or so. dont be afraid to get fed up and put it down and go outside or something, just come back a little later. you'll practice best when you're interested in what you're doing, and not forcing yourself to do another ten minutes of whatever. the more you engage your brain and observe as much as possible the more you'll notice and the more you'll be able tyo work on.

September 4, 2004 at 12:20 AM · I just don't buy into the idea that the human mind can only focus for 45 minutes. How would anyone get through a movie, if that were the case? I find there are times and situations when I can't focus more than five seconds to save my life, or ten minutes of good quality work. Sometimes, I can go for hours. You learn to judge when you're plugged in and when you're not. Sometimes you can even push though the distractions. Other times, you don't.

I agree about working up to the long sessions. Playing the violin is definitely a physical activity which requires adequate muscle strength to maintain good form.

Good luck on increasing your attention span! Hint: keep it interesting, challenging, and add lots of variety to your routine.

September 4, 2004 at 12:26 AM · What my teacher does and told me to do (which I don't) is, if you want to do 4 hours for example, do 3 hours of technique (with breaks) like first scales and etudes and studies, then slow working on pieces, bit by bit in each piece. Also look for specific sections that you're having trouble with and spend a significant amount of time on those. Then after you do that, do an hour in the afternoon of just going over what you did. Literally like running through pieces. This shouldn't be just mindless though. Look for spots that are still not the way you like them so you know what to do the next time. Don't only worry about getting all the notes in and playing it through without "messing up." What you should think about also is tone, intonation, interpretation, all that good stuff.

September 4, 2004 at 01:10 AM · unless there is a specific technical problem being adressed thats a little too much techique work in my opinion, half and half is a good rule of thumb altho0ugh i admit i do less technique than repetoire work, but when you have lots of stuff to learn...

September 4, 2004 at 07:17 AM · The 45 minute claim (God, I sound like the British press) basically says that you can't concentrate on the same thing for more than 45mins at a time. So in a movie you get several storylines, changes of scene, changes of dialogue etc. It would be harder to concentrate on a 2 hour movie if it were just a single scene involving all the same people, the mood, actions etc remaining unchanged for the whole movie.

Also, remember that taking a break from something doesn't mean you switch off your brain entirely - it's usually just focused on something else.

Carl.

September 4, 2004 at 08:50 AM · While practicing the violin may not end up being as exciting as a movie, I think we both agree that you can enhance your ability to concentrate with a little creativity. I would never recommend, for example, focusing on shifting for an hour by doing Sevcik. That's been said. I'm not really saying anything new. I just want to explain that by breaking down the practice session into many parts that all focus on different aspects of playing, you would find your mind more engaged than if you set about trying to master one piece by playing it over and over for three or four hours. You wouldn't improve by much, by the way, with that last method. Unfortunately, this is what most students do when they practice. No wonder they can't go for more than thirty minutes!

So, spend some time focusing on intonation when warming up with scales and arpeggios. Buy that Basics book by Simon Fischer and try a new exercise from each category. Spend a little time working on a specific troublesome bowing. Take Kreutzer #2 and plug that bowing in. Take 15-20 minutes for Sevcik and shift. Sit down and stretch a bit. Practice playing while sitting down, on quartet or orchestra repertoire. Work up a tricky fast passage with a metronome. Take a left-brain break and play a piece you know well, focusing on imagination and letting the feeling flow into the piece. Sit down again and drink some coffee. Work out some fingerings. Change a bowing or two. Dig out some recordings and listen for ideas. If you must drill the heck out of a few measures, just keep it only as long as you are able to focus well, then move on and come back to it after your brain gets time to digest. Above all, any time you hit a wall, have some coffee. Before you know what happened, three hours is gone, and you won't know how to wrap it up in just one hour.

September 4, 2004 at 03:20 PM · Thank you all for the great information! I'm thinking about practicing for an hour one week, then the next week two hours, third week three, then fourth week four. And when I get up to four, I'm going to take 10-15 min breaks between the hours, just to refresh. And on weekends or days off, I'm going to break up the hours like one hour in the morning, one hour at noon, one hour in the afternoon, and one hour at night, and maybe throw in an extra 45 mins if I'm feeling up to it (but only on weekends and days off). I'll also try to work on pieces that interest me. Maybe even try making fun rythmns when doing scales (that's what we do in orchestra). Anything to keep my mind going and not start wandering. I hope I can be satisfied with my playing after each practice session.

With thanks,

Sara

September 4, 2004 at 04:02 PM · I'm sorry, but the notion of practicing some predetermined amount of time strikes me as completely pointless. Instead of trying to reach some goal of time spent, I would strongly advise you to practice in order to fix specific problems. Keep plugging at a measure or a line or a piece until it's learned, not until the clock has struck. On the one hand, you might be surprised by how long you can stay concentrated when working towards clear-cut, realistically attainable short-range goals. On the other hand, you might be surprised by how much more effective your practicing becomes, and how much less practice time you might actually need.

September 4, 2004 at 04:35 PM · I didn't really mean go over one section over and over. Think of the different things you're doing each time you go over it. First, getting it clean, then intonation, shifting, make the shifts part of the music, how to phrase something, tone, placement of the bow, how much speed or pressure should be applied (for the kind of tone you want) stuff like that. It's very true that just going over things over and over without thinking or focusing on a certain aspect will get you much.

September 4, 2004 at 10:00 PM · Yes, yes, goals! It is so important to be able to find small, realistic goals and work specifically toward accomplishing them. Another thing you might beware is practicing four hours a day only to ingrain bad habits. This is the most important reason why people suggest breaks, especially when the concentration level wanes. Please don't assume that by simply logging hours you will become great. True, you cannot become great without putting time into it, but 15 minutes of pracicing a good habit (i.e. bow hand exercise)is entirely more valuable than three hours of thoughtless practicing with no goals accomplished other than logging three hours in your practice journal and cementing a faulty bow hand.

September 7, 2004 at 04:19 AM · Maybe it is because as a kid my family hated my practicing. They were happy if I finished my practice in just 10 minutes or didn't practice at all. So naturally I never want to put my violin away. I feel it is a treat to play longer. My children used to hate practicing piano and I was continually pushing them to practice. Then we discovered 'Jump Music' I was then saying, "Please finish your practice, your sister needs a turn." And they would say, "Please, just and extra 10 minutes?" Find some way to make it a treat for you. Some kids use a webcam and practice with a friend.

September 11, 2004 at 09:49 PM · I have a question on this same subject. As a performance major who would like to practice 6 hours a day, I inevitably come across days when it is impossible for me to focus on practicing, however I do not want to get out of the habit of practicing at least 4 hrs. a day. SO my question is, is it better to force myself through 4 hours of rather unfocused practice, or better to not practice at all and risk developing the habit of skipping practice days?

September 12, 2004 at 01:05 AM · I think it's okay to continue practicing even though you're having difficulty concentrating, as long as you make an effort to refocus the mind whenever you notice it wandering.

I also practice and study meditation and have learned that the most growth occurs on days when the mind is the most turbulent and difficult to control. There is some benefit in the struggle, but not if you get too discouraged.

So I would say, sometimes it's important to continue practicing even when it feels the most difficult. Violin playing is not just about developing technique, but about training the mind to concentrate, which in turn makes you a better violinist.

Also, it helps to practice the same amount at the same time every day to develop and maintain a habit. Once the habit is set, it's less of a struggle to practice.

Just some thoughts about concentration.

September 12, 2004 at 03:22 AM · Sara, given what you've said about your playing level and your problem areas, my own advice would be to make a detailed list of the aspects of your practice video that bothered you, and consult your teacher on each point with a view to correcting them - achieving and maintaining good posture, for example. Secondly, I don't know if you regularly practice in front of a mirror? Always a good exercise at any level; if you can trouble-spot your video, you will probably find you can do the same with the mirror. Stand right-side-on so that you're looking at the side of your bridge.

I don't want to make assumptions about your 'partial beginner' level, but four hours is a very long time! Even 30 mins of concentrated mirror work, focusing on tone production using open strings, will make a noticeable difference to your playing. However, if your technique and sound are badly flawed, four hours might do more harm than good.

September 12, 2004 at 03:30 AM · Greetings,

Elizabeth, in a sense i think you may be setting a misleading target for yourself. Why do you want to practice six hours? It is a veyr arbitrary figure. Some teacher sreocmmends that much (cf Tziganov in The Way they Play) but on the whole they tend to opt for less. Meadowmounr students , at leats according to the book had ot practice four hours excpet that was four tiems fifty minutes with another hour as an otion. Bron and DeLay have both spoken of lesson plans that run for five hours. Perlman states quite emphatically fiv ehours is enough.

Personally I have done both amounts for long periods of time and have found that six hours tends ot undo the good work and decrease the quality of the previous day on an increasing scale of damage. Five hours is the absolute max for me. I have also found that my maximum work time for concentration is only forty minutes unless I am in a reall groove and don"t notice the time in which case up to an hour but no more.

It really varies a lot according to the physique but if you are finding five hours easy then there is a lack of cocnentration somehwere and ht epracitce itslef is better. Teh quality of practice should always be the target, not the nukber of hours themselves which are all too often just a tool for competing with other students. I have seen talented people who know how to focus do superbly at college obn three hours a day and that was what my teacher ther erecommneded.

In her book "Just Play Naturally' Vivien Mackie was studying with Casals at the most iontense and focuse dlevel imaginable and she asked him how much she could really practic ein the light of his huge demands of concentration and exacting standards. He looked her up and down a bit and sai'well, you are young and strong so maybe you could do three and ahlf hours..."

At 80 whatveer she is still as strong as a horse by the way.

Menuhin in his book on the violin talks about the great sacrifcie talent needs to make of practice for "four orfive hours a day, six days a week'!!!!!

If you can do this level of pracitc e well then when it comes to ding 11 hours a day for two weeks ot get ready for the Tchaikovsky competition you should be able to handle it,

Cheers,

Buri

September 12, 2004 at 04:10 AM · Thanks for all the feedback! I am now actually going to change my practicing time to three hours a day due to lots of homework and some bad grades. Is that still enough?

Sara

September 12, 2004 at 05:46 AM · also keep in mind if you're a performance major you probably do chamber music or orchestra right? i dont consider this practicing personally. on days when its really hard to focus i do maybe an hour of technical practice or something earlier then i try to collaborate on something, i can ALWAYS rehearse chamber music or something like that, then maybe i do another hour of practice later or something.

September 12, 2004 at 06:06 PM · Owen, where do you go to school? (or did?)

September 12, 2004 at 07:21 PM · san francisco conservatory

September 12, 2004 at 10:41 PM · I was always under the impression that the really, really great violinists were so good because they invested a TON of time into practicing when they were young. Such as Paganini, who practiced 14 hours a day every day in his pre-teens. And while focused practice is MUCH more beneficial than unfocused practice, I think that unfocused practice is better than no practice at all (as long as one is not just practicing bad habits or mistakes). This is why I try to practice 6-7 hours a day. Besides, I figure the more I strive for focused practice, the better I'll get at it.

September 12, 2004 at 10:53 PM · Wow, you must be really committed!

Sara

September 12, 2004 at 11:24 PM · Well, I started violin late and have, up until a year ago, had a series of bad teachers who instilled in me many bad habits. Thus, I have a lot of technique to catch up on.

September 12, 2004 at 11:36 PM · Greetings,

Elizabeth, although it is true there is a fundamentla correleation betwen the numbe rof hours of practice and the achievement of superstardom the players of old did not practice 10 or fourteen hours a day or whatever. The time is accuymulated because they started young. is therer any documented evicence that Pagini practiced 14 hours a day?

Here is a direct quote from an interview with Perlman:

`It comes down to lsitening. What are you listening for when you practice? Here`s my favotite example of how not to practicer. TYou have a couple of notes that are out of tune and you repeat them over and over for twenty minutes and its not working and while you were doing that the bow was going in all bad directions, because you were not paying attention to your bow because you were only paying attention to your left hand. So your left hand is not working well yet and you have pracitced for twenty minutes with the bow wrong. So now you have to undo that, but you are not payingn attention to the intonation, so you have practiced for twnety minutes out of tune.

So just reduce it to small incrments, two or three bars and try to get hold of everything, at the samne time. Its difficult to concentrate on everything so reduce it it to one bar. You can accomplish a lot more in less time. Practiicng slowly is extremely importnat. Then you can figure out what is going onb. Nothging escapes you. Sheer time is not necessraily good; what`s good is the quality of the practicing. If someone is really serious five hours a day is almost too much; no more than thta. After five hours the body does not absorb anymore. And when you practice its got to be 50 minute hours with ten minutes of rest.`

Cheers,

Buri

September 13, 2004 at 01:50 AM · There is actually documented evidence that Paganini practiced 14 hours a day on this website I forgot but it has a biography of him.

Sara

September 13, 2004 at 04:33 AM · Sara, I hope that you don't believe all that you read on the web ;)

September 13, 2004 at 04:55 AM · Greetings,

Mattias I believe -everything- I read -especially when it is in Swedish.

As far as fourteen hours is concerned I do have a cellist colleague who practices 12 hours a day. I asked her what she did about the pain and and after a furtive glance around the room she whispered `How did you know?` to which I shrugged modestly and she continued `I get Cortisone injections in my hand every two weeks.`

I don`t think they had Cortisone injections in Paginini`s day but it is true that the Standard Vatican time used then did have an hour that was substantially shorter,

Cheers,

Buri

September 13, 2004 at 05:10 AM · And a lot of holy water :)

September 13, 2004 at 05:35 AM · Practicing can reach a point of diminishing returns; it is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

September 13, 2004 at 06:41 AM · Greetings,

Rostropovitch had/has a slightly mean but profound @trick@ he does at master?@classes. He stops the unlucky student and says okay I will give you five minnutes to practice this passage in front of all of us and i will sya nothing. All to often the student is shown up as having little idea how to practice effectively. And presumably such a student is extremely advanced. The paradox to keep in mind is that one of the reasons you may need to do more than five (six?) hours day in day out is that you have no idea how to practice efficiently,

Cheers,

Buri

September 13, 2004 at 06:52 AM · Buri, my teacher does that to me a lot. I thought it was really mean at the time, but it actually helps a lot in the long run.

Carl.

September 13, 2004 at 06:54 AM · Greetings,

it`s making a superb point. I just would rather see it done in the lesson room than in front of others.

Cheers,

Buri

September 25, 2004 at 08:37 PM · i have got the simmilar problem. sometimes i practice for a long time but then...

i can't play very well.

but i try to be concentrated but this is also very hard

September 27, 2004 at 05:16 PM · Perlman, in an interview with Strings Magazine, recommended five hours of pracrice daily, but only 50 minute hours; take a ten minute break every 50 minutes. Also, drink plenty of water; sometimes just stopping to take a sip of water gives me a chance to mentally reset after a vigorous etude and get started again, when all I took is 20 seconds to get a drink of water.

September 28, 2004 at 02:02 PM · Well to me Mr. P. said once in a lesson "if you can't do in three hours you might as well give up..."

Mr. Perlman might have said many things, but there is no fixed universal practice time. And also he knows that. And while it is true that one does need to practice, some do it within 2.5 hours while others need 6 or 7 hours. I agree with Emil. Just practice what you need to practice. Sometimes when I have a lot of concerts or a competition coming up I'll make a ton of hours, while at other times I stick with the 2.5 working on technique, some etudes and maybe learning a new piece or maybe doing some real nice polishing work on tone after I've done some orchestra concerts. Sara, don't let yourself be made crazy by everyone. You will have to find your own practice routine, it is so incredibly personal. And while some find practice to be a means to an end, it can also become something like eating (also a means to an end, but we do it everyday). Practice is necesarry for a violinist, Heifetz would start his day with an hour of scales EVERY DAY no matter what. Just to keep things clean.

Find your own way. You will probably need at least 2.5 hours, everything after that will be to conquer pieces for comeptitions, learn somehting new, or prepare for a concert. And some days that might be 1 hour and other 6.

But now I am telling you also what and how... good luck figuring out your "routine" and don't forget to ENJOY it!

September 28, 2004 at 02:35 PM · I must agree with Emil and Carla. We as humans and musicians tend to put ourselves in mental shackles mentally and physically which in turn causes excess tension throughout the body. (The brain is a muscle...) Try not to think in terms of "how many hours..etc" nonsense. Believe me when I was in my so-called "old-Kevin" phase as coined by my teacher, I did all sorts of stupid mental things such as counting hours. Practicing should be fun, but of course everyday is not a "in the zone" day, so as my old teacher would say, "intonation is a matter of will", so we suck it up every day. That is what gives us our edge.

So when your practicing, you should be COMPLETELY focused on the matter at hand- fullfilling your own potential as a human and musician. So the very thought of hours practiced does not even enter the mind. Oh yeah, practice scales...hehehehe

September 28, 2004 at 02:36 PM · Well, I've decided that, after reading all the great advice, that I'm really not going to set up an exact time for practicing. I'm just going to practice until I think everything's good. I'm going to start out with scales and warming up, then technique, then pieces. I also think I'll practice a lot on them because they're pretty fun pieces:

Lesson-

Gavotte from "Mignon" (Suzuki 2)

Gavotte

To a Wild Rose

Orchestra-

Habanera

Brandenburg Concerto no.4 1st Mvmt

A Modal Festival

Dance of the Tumblers

Ode to Joy

And I think that's enough to keep me practicing for a while.

Sara

September 28, 2004 at 09:44 PM · sara - maybe I'm just really old fashioned (at my age? never!), but for someone that's practicing pieces from Suzuki Book 2, 2.5-4 hours seems like a bit of overkill.

My reason for saying this is at that stage you still haven't got your technique down, there are mistakes that you can't pick up but your teacher can and will in time. However, if you're doing that much practice you're going to be imprinting into your mind these bad habits which will make it all the worse for later on when you have to break this habit.

My idea: ask your teacher how long each day you should practice, and how long could you practice for? At book two, I probably wouldn't reccommend students more than 30 mins, and say the max you should do would be an hour. Why? typically when students get to book two (i'm going on when I started on book two) they're in their second year of learning. If you're only practicing for 15 mins a day when you start, to move up to 30 mins is a logical progression, double that if you want to make quick progress.

This isn't to say your enthusiasm isn't unfounded. I'd love to reccommend students to start with an hour a day, but it's just not practical, and will probably do more harm than good.

September 29, 2004 at 09:48 PM · Hi, understand that this response is only my opinion. I've played guitar for 32 years and there were times when I would only pick up my guitar about one hour a month. Now, please don't take this as bragging, but I have a special gift in both my fingers and my ears. So, why would I ignore such a gift? I can't really come up with an answer, other than, I have recently decided to do something professionally with music. I did play in a blues band for ten consecutive years, and played approximately 300 gigs. However, I am now totally committed to jazz and have been practicing 30 hours/week for the past 3 months. I'm searching for a violinist and have possibly found an upright bassist to form an acoustic jazz trio to perform such music as songs by the Rite of Strings, Al Dimeola, Stanley Clarke and Jean Luc Ponty. So, back to the subject. Things can change in life. Maybe you have other things that are more interesting right now. Maybe, well, who knows. I can tell you this much, that I can't get enough practice, whether playing with an acoustic trio which is a current coffee shop type trio I'm in now] or just practicing by myself. The current trio plays a wide variety of music including a small amount of jazz. But, eventually my goal is to form the acoustic jazz trio and record some original material. So, there you have it, what comittment is one willing to take. I just so happen to have decided to take it later in life. I sincerely wish I would have had this in me years ago, but I am content with finally doing it now. Good luck and give thought to the comittment you want to make. And never give up! You never know what's in the future.

Chris

September 30, 2004 at 12:07 AM · Simple; Try to memorize Beethoven's Concerto in D Major. A page a day should keep you busy (if not frustrated about your memory skills).

September 30, 2004 at 02:20 AM · Hmmph.. Beethoven Violin Concerto? For a beginner? .. Let's get real, please.

If you're a beginner in some fashion.. practicing four hours a day isn't going to turn you into the next Vengerov or Shaham with a snap of your thumb and finger in a day.. that takes time; and with time, takes patience.

Do you personally think if you eliminate everything you have done in the day to practice four whole hours would actually make you happier? I think you would become more frusterated and upset..

Science says that the average human being can only keep their mind focus for ten straight minutes on something before they doze off.. Going for a full four hours a day when you just start off is really pushy and you will become easily upset having a hard time focusing...

Personally.. you shouldn't practice by like "Juilliard" standards when you first start off. Try an hour to 90 minutes a day for a month or two, maybe three at the most.. Then aim for two hours.. three, so on.. Going off the bat for four hours is a bit, silly.. don't you think, especially for a beginner?!

These people above think that doing this and that to aim for four hours right off the bat will work... if you're some genious. Don't get me wrong, I bet you're a very intelligent person capiable of anything..

You need to take this one step at a time and have patience with your growth and improvement in small increments.

I've been playing for close to 7 years now.. and I sometimes get in an hour during the week days and 2-3 on the weekends.. During the summer is when I do the full round of 4 hours a day. Although, that took me years of getting used to.

I play for myself, because I enjoy it. I'm not playing to be the next soloist of the 21st century or whatever.. I'm playing the violin because simply, well.. I enjoy it.

Who and what will the four hours a day do for you? And what do you think you would really get out of it? Honestly..

I'm not trying to be discouraging.. but changing your daily schedule dramatically out of the blue to do something like that takes a while to get used to.. Did you know it takes the human body 7 weeks to get used to a new schedule, situation, enviorment, etc..? So.. even if you do try to do this.. it's going to take a while to get used to and you're going to have to be very dedicated to this goal.

My two cents worth of advice: practice a sufficent amount of time for you.. A beginner should practice maybe on hour 5-6 days a week.. Then Intermediate 2, maybe three.. then advanced to professional 3-4 hours, if not more when needed... Beginners don't just completely skip that gap if they practice 4 full hours to becoming advanced musicians.. It's going to take a lot of time and patience.. If you really want to aim for this and really think this is your best bet.. work more with your scales and finger patterns, etudes and so on more than you would with a concerto.. You're only as good as you can play your C Major scale I feel. If you want to improve, that's where you need to work....

Now.. what's the ULTIMATE goal out of practicing 4 hours a day for a beginner, regardless of age..?

September 30, 2004 at 03:12 AM · A nice vibrato, less string squeaking when changing, better tone, better counting, progressing faster, learning special technique quicker, all that fun stuff. But honestly, the advice is great. I'll start off practicing for an hour a day for a few months, then two, and so on. Maybe?

Sara

September 30, 2004 at 03:20 AM · Greetings,

Sara, I still think you could go back to Emil`s advice.

There is often some kind of conflict between setting yourself up a disciplined routine that becomes a habit and trusting your instincts. Emil can work at the latter level becuase his instincts are backed up by experience. For you it is a little more comp-lex but you still don`t need to get bogged down with the time thing. It is more a question of asking `What do I have to do today/this week?`

No more, no less.

Cheers,

Buri

October 9, 2004 at 09:05 PM · This thread is so relevant to me at the minute! I worked fulltime in an office last year and basically did no practice once i had got my place in the Academy in Glasgow. I went down to only practicing 1-2hrs a week and had virtually no lessons in the last 12months. Luckily I went on a course in the summer involving lots of immensly talented musicians - eg Chilingirian Quartet, Chris Rowland, Steven Osborne, Symanowski Quartet - and that really inspired me to start working again. My new teacher has basically told me this thread in my first lesson: I need to focus much more and actually really listen when I practice, and most importantly practise (practiSe? practiCe?) very slowly. Unfortunately I'm struggling to do any more than 2 sessions (45mins) a day. However, they are quite focused sessions now - especially on intonation and bow control - so I'm hoping towards Christmas time my playing will reach a much higher level and I'll not tire so easily and lose concentration so easily. It's much easier to see that happening now I don't sort filing and answer telephones for 8hrs a day!!

October 31, 2004 at 04:51 PM · Time is nothing if you don't know what do do with it. If you were playin 30 minutes a day, don't try to play 4 houres like that. Try to make a progression each week. From 30 minutes to 60 than to 120 and so on...

And the most important: lear how to use the time as a friend, not an enemy. Don't try to beat a record of time playing. Program your study, what and how are you going do it. Sometimes 2 hours is better than 4.

November 1, 2004 at 12:20 AM · I've gone through three stages of practising. I did all the wrong things in my first year. I practised endless hours and ingrained so many technical faults - especially since I was practising mindlessly, only aiming for good intonation without worrying about how I got there - that those faults caused other things to fall apart until the whole thing came crashing down into a big mess. It took a long time to untangle those habits and replace them. Because they were so ingrained and often invisible, even if I found a better way of doing a particular thing - within 5 minutes the old way would be back and reinforcing itself and I'd lose how to play properly - in fact, how to play at all.

So the second stage was to discipline myself to stop playing when that happened - for several months I barely played at all, which was very hard to do. Eventually the destructive habits faded to a bad memory.

I'm now beginning my third year of playing and I'm able to do full practises again since a few months but I will never practise the way I did back then. I'm still finding my way in some of the basic things that I missed in that initial headlong rush but my problems seem to have dwindled to what everyone else is wrestling with so that's o.k. Yesterday I allowed myself to practise as long as I wanted with no time plan. Some simple duet pieces to begin with - goal, to feel relaxed about playing, intonation, observe what's going on. A 10 min. break. A bit of work on two things in Basics: one on left hand, one on right - whatever seemed most pertinent. Another break. Work on important piece for lesson - focus on certain goals, playing sometimes as a piece, sometimes small sections very slowly, planning for next time. Another break. On to technical stuff: scales etc. But instead of playing any scale through, looking at it as though I had never played it before, using some of the new skills from Basics from earlier in the practice session, note by note, section by section - (thanks Buri for the article on scales - it was an eye opener!). Then playing the studied scale "as" a scale slowly, with different bowings, and a tempo - hopefully incorporating what I'd just learned. What a difference! If someone had not rung the doorbell I would have had another break and spent a shorter time on bowing.

When I used to do my mega-practice non-stop unthinkingly the first year my playing would be worse at the end than at the beginning. This time around my playing was better and more controlled at the end than the beginning. My aim is not to practise x number of hours but to go with the flow with particular goals in mind. New goals spring from the practice session itself. I have a feeling that having brought my playing to a certain point yesterday, that today's session can be much shorter and still achieve a lot.

I've been looking at this thread for a while before deciding to post, and have found a lot of good advice here.

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