How long do you practice?

July 14, 2005 at 08:06 PM · Just curious...

Replies (98)

July 14, 2005 at 08:15 PM · It depends. I'm a sophomore in highschool, so on average for a school day, about two hours. Two months before a huge concert, I up that to 2 1/2, and the week before a big huge concert, I play as much as five hours a day (not all at one sititng of course ;-) Now, since it's the "off-season" and I've not much to work on (during concert season I have orchestra, string ensemble, quintet, solo lit. etcetera...), I've been practicing, hour or so. So, it depends.


July 14, 2005 at 08:22 PM · not enough!

July 14, 2005 at 08:38 PM · I practice 30-40 minutes weekday mornings and 45-60 minutes on weekends. I an adult amateur.

July 14, 2005 at 10:48 PM · 1-1.5 hours during the weekday evenings, same or (preferably) more on the weekends. God knows I need it.

July 15, 2005 at 01:46 AM · I am sixteen, I practice all day during the summer. I can't really put an exact time on it, but if I were to guess I would say around six to eight hours throughout the day. During the school day I can only practice around three or so. I don't see it as "practice" really, its more like my job, and I love my job.

July 15, 2005 at 02:00 AM · How does one enjoy practising not half of the time but almost all of the time?

Tell me!

July 15, 2005 at 05:58 AM · So what do you guys practice? do you guys practice a piece str8 through, how long do you spend on a piece, you know what excatly do you do for 5hrs, I find it when I practice I cant seem where to start or what to practice, as you can see my practice sessions r not that long.

July 15, 2005 at 06:06 AM · A good model that many people follow is:

1 hr scales, arpeggios, and double stops

1 hr Kreutzer, Dont, Paganini, Gavinees etc

1 hr Bach

1 hr Concerto

1 hr Sonata/solo pieces

the last 3 are really interchangeable. The first two hours I think should be part of any violinist's practice, even though I almost never do it every day.

July 15, 2005 at 09:42 AM · Pieter - an excellent model, however it must be said that that only works for people once they reach that level. Someone who has just begun will not spend 5 hours a day practicing - it will do more harm than good.

However, I agree that those sections are very important - Scales, Etudes, Unaccompanied, Concerto and Sonata/Solo. But it must be scaled according to how long someone has been playing. For example someone who has been playing for a few years, and would be up to around 1 hours practice might do 15 on scales, 15 on etudes, and then 30 mins on pieces (split 10/10/10).

However, a professional who practices 7-8 hours a day might spend a couple of hours on scales and etudes, a couple of hours on bach, an hour or so on learning new pieces (concertos, sonatas etc) and then 2-3 hours on working on pieces in his/her repertoir for an up-coming concert.

What people need to understand is that the amount of practice you do is right for you - don't aim too high, as it might hinder more than hurt.

July 15, 2005 at 11:12 AM · I agree with Ben, but will add that you should choose an ammount of time not set ridgidly by a clock, but set by goals. It does no good to say you are going to spend an hour on scales if in the end you are merely mindlessly repeating stuff over and over to fill up time. Practice until you feel you have accomplished something with it and you are mentally involved the whole while. I think the art of practicing develops as your musicianship does...eventually we learn to be creative and find ways at working on passages that helps us fill out more time so to speak. An intermediate to beginner isn't going to be able to take two octave scales and make them last an hour, but someone in conservatory with three and four octaves scales, thrids, sixths, fingered octaves and all that in their scale routine certainly can fill an hour easily.

July 15, 2005 at 02:00 PM · Wow...

yeah I don't practice NEAR enough...

but I blame it on still trying to get my life together...;)

Anyway, I'm lucky if I even practice once a day, and most of the time when I do, I only practice for like, 10 mins.

But like I said still trying to get life together, and when things calm down I'm hoping to get up to 2 hours on week days, 3 on weekends, more if I have completely nothing to do.

July 15, 2005 at 04:11 PM · When you practice you should not have a set time for each thing you are practicing. Just know the order that you are going to practice in: Scales/warm-up, sightreading, concerti, solo. Don't focus on how many hours minites and seconds you are spending on one particular piece. If it takes all day to work on something, then let it.

July 15, 2005 at 05:01 PM · I make sure to cover all the repertoire I'm preparing for performance within the next two weeks. If this involves a lot of rep, such as for a competition, I aim to cover the rep for a given concert (or a given competition round) in a day.

As for what "cover" really means, I use the word in the sense of: clean intonation, reconsider every fingering and bowing, insure tricky spots and passages, consider alternative phrasings, bowings, voicing, and, if there's time, go through the piece(s) nonstop, in three-quarter speed. For some works that I've played fairly frequently (like Bach g-moll), this "coverage" may take as little as half an hour. For others that are either less familiar to me, or are sufficiently difficult that what gets practiced and learned today might not still be clean and reliable tomorrow, this might take several hours.

I absolutely agree, in short, with the opinions already expressed here which have stressed accomplishment and not clock-watching.

July 15, 2005 at 06:40 PM · I have a question for you guys. I know it sounds like a stupid question but I do not know the answer to it.

Why practice scales, and arpegios? Are you sapposed to memorize them? I play 1 scale every 2 weeks... Am I sapposed to play like 8 differ scales I learned?

Thanks again

July 15, 2005 at 08:03 PM · Brian -- you should always be doing scales and arpeggios. They are the basis of everything else.

July 15, 2005 at 08:56 PM · I hate the controlling of time. You NEVER learn by watching the clock and spending exactly one-two-three hours. Because you're waiting for the clock to tick and such. Please... people don't have sense.

What may take people 5 hours and grow musically at an appropriate level, may take another person 2 hours or 3 hours and 7 minutes. It's interchangeable between each player. The model practice is so constrained, and not many people have a schedule to permit that with issues at home.

Now, myself, I practice 2-3 hours day, and I'm a rising Junior, and I feel that's enough. I have issues with guest coming to my house, because I live at the beach, so they don't like listening to the violin, so I have to go without. I know I'm not the only one!

It's summer, practice to an amount, and agree that's enough for you to grow, and not by that 5 hour set schedule on

I hate controlling and constrained limits. You do what YOU have to do, not some model people wrote one hundred years ago.


July 16, 2005 at 02:11 AM · 2-4 hours. Used to be 5-6, but I wound up over-practicing and hurt my hand.

Fully recovered now, though!

July 16, 2005 at 03:43 AM · Is it the norm to continuously play Bach pieces?(This stems from Pieter's practice schedule) If so, why?

Pardon my ignorance.

July 16, 2005 at 10:59 AM · Jerry,

Yes. Bach is always with you, unless I'm mistaken. I've been continuously playing Bach for two years or more (which is when I decided I would play violin forever). So: get used to and enjoy Bach...

July 16, 2005 at 07:19 PM · I'm sure others can put it more clearly, but I always feel Bach reveals one's musicality (or lack of) much more brutally so then other music.

July 16, 2005 at 07:44 PM · the words of Argerich, "30 minutes, but every day!"

July 17, 2005 at 04:45 AM · Bach is important because you just need to get it right - there is no composer who's music is so unforgiving. Intonation and tone production are just so important in these works.

For those who might not realise, when we refer to Bach, it's mainly to the Unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas. For those who might not be up to the S&P level, investigate the Telemann Fantasias

July 17, 2005 at 07:20 AM · There is a place online where the Bach Suites have been transposed for violin. Would it be acceptable for me to play these as opposed to the Telemann piece even though the Suites are not normally played by violin?

July 17, 2005 at 06:30 PM · The cello suites are fiendishly difficult as well. If you aren't up to the Sonata's and Partitas yet, you would not be up for the Suites either.


July 18, 2005 at 01:55 PM · Jerry -- I dsagree with Preston. The cello suites are somewhat easier than the S&Ps. Even if you are not up to the S&Ps, you might want to give the cello suites a try.

July 18, 2005 at 02:09 PM · I am amazed that no one mentions practising without instrument... I believe that practising with the instrument more than 5 hours over a longer time period is impossible, and bad for your hands. But to think about the works, about the interpretation, memorize the works, study scores, all that is possible without the instrument. When I was still in school I used to take many different scores with me and study those during boring subjects. So I spent at least 8 hours daily with music, but rarely more than 5 with the instrument. Also, in my opinion every (I probably should add professional) violinist should play piano as well - at least 45min a day. It helps to side-read faster, to get a feeling for polyphonie (sorry, spelling?)...and it's great fun too :-)))

July 18, 2005 at 04:15 PM · Sorry, I should probably tell you my level of violin playing first. I am currently playing Dvorak's Four Romantic Pieces and Accolay. I am working on Kreutzer as well.

July 18, 2005 at 04:50 PM · Stick with Telemann first. Perhaps there is a Saraband or Gigue that you could work on to get a taste of Bach, but I'd recommend not delving into anything too heavy with the Bach until your teacher is sure that your technique is ready to tackle it.


July 18, 2005 at 04:51 PM · during the school year, I only have time to practice on the weekends, and that usually only ends up being 2 to 5 hours a week.

During the summer, however, I usually practice anywhere from an hour to 4 hours a day. It just depends on how much motivation I have. I usually average 2 hours a day. That is maybe 10-30 minutes of scales, then 20-40 minutes of etude(s), and the rest a concerto.

July 18, 2005 at 05:12 PM · 45 minutes, on a good day

July 18, 2005 at 05:39 PM · At least 3 hours a day, during the holiday, like now, 5 or 6. I cannot believe this is too much, I would like to practice much longer, but I recently got problems with my left hand. The position of my thumb must be wrong, I think, and when I stop playing my hand starts shaking. Anyone has some advice for me?

July 18, 2005 at 05:42 PM · Sarah, you might want to see a doctor if your hand is shaking like that. It might just be muscle fatigue, but it might not. If this is your life, better safe than sorry.

July 18, 2005 at 09:25 PM · hahaha andrew

July 18, 2005 at 11:44 PM · Am I the only person who thinks that 3-4 hours is the optimum amount?

July 18, 2005 at 11:50 PM · I think 6 is optimal. I realistically get in about 4 to 5 hours a day, but I'm going to start aiming for 6. There have been times where I do 8 hours a day, and I make huge improvements when I do that, but it's physically not sustainable for a long period of time, and I usually don't have 8 hours in the day to practice anyway.

July 19, 2005 at 12:06 AM · Wow, you guys/gals practice a lot more then I expected. I thought most people did like 1 hour. I am in good shape, but even though I can run a mile in 5:32 seconds, I'm no match for over 90 degree temps playing the violin for more than 1 hour. Just a few hours ago when I was playing I was distracted by dripping sweat off my back, then I got dizzy and very iritable.

How do you practice 4-6 hours in heat extremes?

July 19, 2005 at 01:14 AM · Get a fan, or preferably AC.

July 19, 2005 at 03:16 AM · My teacher studied with James Buswell and he says:

"If you practice for less than two hours you're wasting your time; if you practice for more than six hours, you're wasting your life."

July 19, 2005 at 03:56 AM · I never practiced two hours in my entire life until last semester, and no one ever told me I was wasting my time. There is no universal right or wrong when it comes to quantifying practice time. Put in as much as you want to get out of it.

A witty saying proves nothing.

July 19, 2005 at 04:37 AM · I think that saying is pretty accurate. The point of it is to say that having a violin career takes work. I don't know many successful violinists who practiced less than 2 hours a day even in their pre-conservatory days.

July 19, 2005 at 08:25 AM · I think it is best to find an ammount of time that you can keep up on a daily basis in an effort to be consistant.

I sometimes wonder /marvel at people who are able to sustain keen mental focus for 6-8 hours a day. I don't know about you, but I would think the quality would go down as I grew tired. It would take me the span of 10 hours to get 6 good hours of playing done with breaks and lunch and resting my back for a moment. I have always wondered how people really did 6-8 hours without loosing their spouse or starving to death, especially considering these 6-8 hours daily are practice and not a paying gig.

Maybe I am just jealous for your supernatural concentration abilities. ;)

July 19, 2005 at 11:32 AM · Sometimes on the weekend I can get 6-8 hours in in one day, but that's tops. My average is 1.5-3 hrs. day.

But, as already mentioned, never enough.

(The quote about wasting time/life is pretty good!)

I think of 6 hours as great. My thoughts for now...

July 19, 2005 at 01:11 PM · Wow Andrew you practice alot;0 No seriously, 5 hours is plentyful. 1 or 2 hours of technical maintainance, with 3 hours of repertoire.

July 19, 2005 at 05:58 PM · Still, even if you do practice 6 hours a day, it is no guarantee you will get better.

If you practice with bad technique for 6 hours a day, then you are doing yourself more harm than good.

However, if you are at the level that you practice something like six hours a day, you most likely won't be practicing with a bad technique.

I think it is also a good idea to take a five minute break between every hour you practice.

July 19, 2005 at 06:40 PM · "If you practice for less than two hours you're wasting your time; if you practice for more than six hours, you're wasting your life."

If someone enjoys the violin to play it more then 6 hours then they will not only get very good, but also smart. Then their are other people who watch TV for 6 hours. Which person is waisting their life?

July 19, 2005 at 07:00 PM · The person who is missing the simpsons....

You are wasting your life if after 6 hours you havent improved. But if you know how to practice then its great to do that amount. I have been practicing all day, which is rare for me. Usually 4 hours is my limit. You have to be careful not to injure yourself though. Also it depends what repertoire you are practicing and what level you are at - if you are still finding your technique and want to be able to play ANYTHING, possibly 6-8 hours is needed. If you are maintaining what is already down, it would take a lot less time. I think I heard that Perlam practices 4 hours a day to maintain his technique, and Vengerov does 3. I could be mistaken....

July 19, 2005 at 09:14 PM · I would agree that practicing more than 6 hours a day is unhealthy. In this industry, we have to take care of our bodies. Playing for that long every day will lead to a repetitive stress injury, or worse.

July 20, 2005 at 01:29 AM · "I would agree that practicing more than 6 hours a day is unhealthy."

Well, the only way I can agree with you is if you are 40 or more years older. A famous musician once said "no pain, no gain".

July 20, 2005 at 01:54 AM · Oistrakh practiced 5 to 6 hrs, Stern did 5 to 7, Kogan did 7 to 8, Julian Sitkovetsky did 7 to 12, Milstein, in his youth, practiced all day long, Heifetz probably did 5 to 8, Vengerov did 7 when he was young, even the most natural violinist, Menuhin, did 4. I think the limit depends on the person's will and stamina, but the more a person can practice with concentration, the better (atleast this is the way it seems to me). Of course, a person should have really solid hand position on the violin, otherwise one can seriously injure oneself. However, with a bad hand position, even a person practicing 3 hrs can suffer an injury.

July 20, 2005 at 02:21 AM · Violin T, that's not at all accurate. Stern rarely, if ever practiced his solo rep after the age of 25. Heifetz confessed to not practicing more than 3 hours a day...

July 20, 2005 at 03:32 AM · In terms of Stern, I got the information from his Biography. If he did stop practicing a lot at a certain point, it was after he had already achieved an enormous level of career. Also, after a while, Stern became closely associated with various institutions, such as Carneige Hall, so he didn't have as much time to practice. As for Heifetz, I have never read anywhere of this comment, so if the comment I made on his practicing is innacurate then I appologize. However, if he did not practice as much, then he would be probably a huge exception to the general rule. After all, even Paganini practiced 7 hrs a day, and this is a historcial fact. Also, such giants such as Huberman and Szigeti practiced all day long. So in general, 5 to 7 hrs is standard time for this type of a violinist.

July 20, 2005 at 07:55 AM · i usuallw practice beetween 6 and 8 hours. if its a "holiday" i practice 4 or 5 and i i have an important concert,i practice the whole day. but i'm not that tird, because i'm usued to it. but if one day i just dont want to practice (and that doesnt happen verry often) i dont. verry easy :)

July 20, 2005 at 09:46 AM · Hi all

Wow. Where do you all get the time? Do you all have full-time jobs?

Sorry if this is a stupid question but I work all day, so there's no way I could get 6 hours of practise in a day...

But to all of you who can - and DO, you guys are amazing, well done.



July 20, 2005 at 12:37 PM · Violin T, keep in mind those artists you mentioned practiced that much in their childhood, and as teens not as adults. Most violinists now like Hahn, Vengerov, Chang don't even to get to practice most days, when they're playing 150 concerts a year. In general I don't think practicing all day long continuosly is healthy at all. If you practice 6-8 hrs, then it's best to do 4 in the morning and 4 at night. Besides their is only so much your brain can soak up at one time. Usually if I go past 5 hours, then I'm either playing, or improvising, not practicing. I also think progression has to do with a number of other factors like the teacher as well. Not just the number of hours you spend with the instrument. Chang stated as a kid she practiced 2 or 3 hours a day. Perlman 4 or 5 hours a day.

July 20, 2005 at 02:16 PM · I was just really thinking about this today while I was practicing. I wonder "how" some people count their practice hours. When I was at University for my undergrad music degree, I would have regular core courses, music classes, orchestra rehearsal, violin lesson, quartet rehearsal, and then whatever was left I could use for...eating, sleeping, and practicing. So I could either claim I only got to practice 2 hours a day or I could claim 6 if I tossed in the orchestra and quartet and violin lesson and piano playing.

July 20, 2005 at 02:07 PM · I like the quote on wasting time/wasting your life. Very good. I usually practice 4 hours a day, but recently had a lot of back pain and had to cut down to 2 or 3. I wasn't willing to do it at first, but like someone said in this job you have to take care of yourself physically as well, and Brian, I think that goes for us teenagers too. Yes, no pain no gain, but if you're in too much pain you may have to quit completely. I have several friends who have hurt their hands, and had to cut back seriously. Before my back problems came up I thought I'd never have any pain and I didn't have to worry about it...but know I realize it's much better to be safe than sorry. It's better to be able to enjoy playing for your whole life, then to practice 6-10 hours a day and not be able to play in 10 years. But I'm just speaking for myself; there are people who can do that much.

July 20, 2005 at 02:10 PM · Rick, I think the fact that these violinists stop practicing a lot when they have careers is true for some not for all. Even Kreisler, who while he probably practiced a lot in childhood, did very little practicing when he was in his prime, said that when he played Elgar concerto, he could practice 6 to 7 hrs on certain passages.

The reason for the violinists not practicing as much latter on, is that most already develop incredible skills on the instrument by that point. However, this is only after they get that enormous level. However, in reality, I doubt that a violinists would be able to get to such a level with lack of work. Violin is simply too hard, ad when you add the technical difficulties, to the musical ones, then praacticing 5 to 7 hrs a day doesn't really seem so abnormal.

July 20, 2005 at 02:18 PM · Violin T, how much do YOU play?

July 20, 2005 at 02:28 PM · 5 to 7 hrs a day.

July 20, 2005 at 03:14 PM · Even if you are young, you should be thinking about the long term effects of over-practicing. Even if great violinists allegedly practiced 6+ hours per day, I still don't think it is a good idea. It would be interesting to see what comdition these player's hands were in toward then ends of their careers. Robert Schumann, for example, had a serious hand injury and had to give up piano. Not only can one injure ones hands, joints, and tendons, but other problems crop up as well, like TMJ, back problems, etc. I don't think having "proper" form will prevent injury. Also, I think people tend to exaggerate the amount they practice, because it seems to be some kind of contest. Seems a little silly to me.

Violin T, I am not sure where you are getting your info. It is also possible that these violinists you mention did not practice much in later years because they couldn't.

July 20, 2005 at 03:22 PM · Keri, I agree with you. Unless one has the luxury to be a complete mooch and not work for a living, I highly doubt 6+ hours every day is possible. Unless you are a famous touring soloist who earns all your money at concerts you play every other weekend....or you have absolutely no life.

Just think about the math....there are only 24 hours a day in my world, and eating and sleeping take up at least 10 hours of that.

July 20, 2005 at 04:16 PM · It would be interesting to see what comdition these player's hands were in toward then ends of their careers. Robert Schumann, for example, had a serious hand injury and had to give up piano.

Well, you make it seem like he hurt his hand from practicing too much, but that's not the truth. He made a contraption for mechanized finger development, and he premanently damaged his 4th finger (ring) of his right hand at only age 22. This is what made him become a composer and music critic.

Paganini's father forced his son to practice long hours on the violin. There are some published instances where, believe it or not, he was forced to practice for 15 hours! If you could call his father the devil, then it's true that's where his skill came from!

July 20, 2005 at 04:19 PM · Most of the info. I get is from biographies of these violinists. This info can be found in the memoirs of Milstein, Szigeti, in the articles of Huberman, in The Way They Play article on Kreisler, in interviews with Vengerov, in accounts of people who studied with and knew Kogan and Sitkovetsky, in Oistrakh's statements, etc.

July 20, 2005 at 05:04 PM · Well put, Sarah. there aren't enough hours in the day. If you work a 9-5, that means you would have to practice til midnight each day, skipping meals. I would not encourage any of my students to put in that kind of practice time.

Yes, Schumann suffered a stress injury from trying to stretch his fingers in some awful contraption. My point is that we need to take care of ourselves, and not get over-zealous. Paganini's father forcing him to play 15 hours a day is child abuse. Paganini was also a child prodigy, which is an anomoly that no amount of practice can replicate.

Many musicians have horror stories from colleagues' or their own experiences in which a successful music career was ended or delayed by a repetitive stress injury. It isn't worth it. Practicing shorter periods of time, with greater attention to detain and careful planning is much more healthy and effective than playing for 6+ hours daily. as for me, I was out of commission for 9 months after I bumped up my practice time considerably and wound up with a nasty case of bursitis. All this at the same time I was using "proper technique" and studying the Alexander method. It crept up overnight. All I am saying is, be careful!

July 20, 2005 at 05:46 PM · Sarah,

Sure for the average person who already has a job, it might be hard to fit 6 hours in. But for a conservatory student, if they are very serious about having a career, this is pretty normal. Those are probably the most important years to practice, since getting jobs comes soon after all that schooling, and it is a very competitive profession.

July 20, 2005 at 06:34 PM · What a strange phenomenon practicing is... Some people swear by 6 hours a day, some do barely a....Hang on, I dont have time to finish this, I have to go practice

July 20, 2005 at 09:47 PM · Ha ha ha ha ha...John, that was very funny!

July 20, 2005 at 11:32 PM · lol

July 20, 2005 at 11:34 PM · I practice for at least 1 hour a day...sometimes 3 or 4 hours and If I'm really bored and lose track of time(which happens often) 5-7 hours...

July 21, 2005 at 04:23 AM · I practice too little. lol everbody seems to feel that way but for me it's true. When I get started I can't seem to stop. Sometimes I look up and 2 or more hours have just passed like nothing and I'm late for...whatever, but other days I don't practice at all aside from at school so you know. Actually all the orchestra playing I do probably amouts to 1 to 5 hours a day, but orchestra playing isn't the same as practice. Probably 3 or so hours is really good enough for an amature (like me). If you want to be pro, >5 hrs is considered a must.

July 21, 2005 at 07:03 AM · "If you want to be pro, >5 hrs is considered a must"

Nah, not if you retain information well and really concentrate in your practice sessions. I find 4 hours is usually more than enough if I really focus. I HATE setting amounts of practice time. I find that if I set a goal for the day and practice until I reach that goal then I feel SO much more satisfied than if I force myself to practice a certain number of hours. Sometimes certain goals take longer, sometimes other goals take less time.

For simple musical maintainance and technical hygene reasons I usually don't practice less than 3 hours, but for others that might be more or less.

I have had days where I've practiced ALL day and accomplished very little because I felt I HAD to practice those hours. I've had days where I completed in 2 or 3 hours what I felt I needed to do (then of course I have the option of continuing longer if I want just to get ahead of my "schedule").


July 21, 2005 at 03:31 PM · I agree with Preston. Now that I am more dedicated to the instrument, I find that I practice about 4 hours a day, but not because I plan on it.

Practice focused as long as you can. With a lot of repertoire to learn and upcomming performances, I can see myself practicing 6 hours willingly.

July 21, 2005 at 06:32 PM · Preston, I love the phrase 'technical hygene'! lol! Wow, ive had a really marathon 3 days of solid practicing this week. Virtually all day, every day.

Would I reccomend it? Nah.

Have I gained anything that couldnt be gained with 4 hours of focussed practice? Nah.

Apart from a headache, fatigue and a red mark on my neck.

But its worth it just to play caprice 17!


bam bam bat ba-da


bam ba da dum


July 21, 2005 at 06:36 PM · Hi,

I like Preston's post - as well as Emil's above. That is indeed a very healthy approach. I think that time is important only when it is limited and you have to budget. One has to do what one has to do, so the clock can be tricky. The clock is important in that you need to include breaks for physical and mental reasons. However, in the end, goals are more important then time.


July 21, 2005 at 07:10 PM · didilililididum, bam ba bat da-da or something like that: is that Paganini?

July 21, 2005 at 08:28 PM · Hi everyone,

I see the discussion following its usual fun course as we exchange numbers and come to the conclusion that counting every minute is probably impossible to do. And therefore, finding what is best for us individually and practicing intelligently is the best course.

For example, I know when i'm practicing, i'll take the violin down from raised position, hold in by my side or maybe put it down while I write in a fingering or study the music, clap the rhythm. So it turns out that the actual physical time is not as much as it seems.

More quotes:

Flesch was opposed to excessive practicing: "If you can't learn to become a violinist in four hours of daily practice, you never will."

from Great Masters Of The Violin, boris schwarz

Kennedy and Perlman apparently base their practice around a rough figure of 4 hours.

But, I'm not saying old Flesch is the oracle,nor Kennedy or Perlman, just quoting literature :)

He also says : "It isn't enough to have talent to become somebody; one needs CHARACTER...One can lack character in life and get away with it, but not in ART."

How can we develop character as part of our practice or daily routine?

July 21, 2005 at 08:52 PM · I don't think you can *develop* character with practice in some conscious way. I think you either have it to begin with, or it creeps up on you as a result of one's enthusiasm and real love for making music.

I don't think violin can be playeed well without a love of music and making music.

July 21, 2005 at 09:47 PM · We develop character, I think, by loving what we do, being honest with ourselves, and working honestly to get the best results we can from ourselves.

July 22, 2005 at 09:47 AM · and of course, character is something that is part of our personality and not necessarily something that we can copy too much, because it is what makes us unique.

July 22, 2005 at 02:52 PM · So overall it's not quantity, but quality.;)

July 22, 2005 at 04:02 PM · Not a bad conclusion. I've tried practicing without a set time limit and just trying to improve. When I went to my lesson yesterday my teacher said, "if I had an award for the best knuckle buckle for vibrato it would go to you, abvously you've been practicing". That really encouraged me to practice more to.

July 22, 2005 at 04:51 PM · "Quality, not quantity." O how often that phrase rings true!

July 22, 2005 at 05:08 PM · 2 hours a day. Of course, I am fully aware that I will never go pro. I'm a freshman (HS). Well, starting this fall.

As for the "Quality, not quantity" comment, I seem to remember my violin teacher saying that a couple years ago. I would practice a lot, but my concentration would always drift. My friend, on the other hand, was a tad bit lazy, so she didn't practice that much. She did, however, concentrate dilligently. My teacher remarked we should trade practice habits and it would benefit us both. XD

July 22, 2005 at 10:18 PM · Concentration is the key! Eating the right food I find is very important to keeping the brain at full running speed and focus. Apples and bananas seem to work a treat.

Ps sarah, yes you are correct, like you needed to ask!

August 17, 2005 at 05:00 PM · about 2-3 hours. I make time for it after and before school.

November 28, 2005 at 12:28 PM · "If you practice for less than two hours you're wasting your time; if you practice for more than six hours, you're wasting your life."

I think it really depends on the level and your goals. I don't play for 2 hours yet, I am gradually building up the time, since I haven't been doing it that long. But, I am not wasting my time. That quote applies to those at a high level.

November 28, 2005 at 01:50 PM · No, it doesn't.

November 28, 2005 at 02:49 PM · The amount of time you practice should depend upon the time that you have available and your goals. The more you practice the more rapidly you will see improvement. However, it is the quality of the time spent practicing, not the quantity, which will determine how successful you are. It is nearly impossible to spend 6 hours in a row practicing with any degree of quality. If your schedule allows and you can break those 6 hours up into two hour segments (or however you like) you will undoubtably have more success. Sometimes you learn by stepping away for awhile and taking a fresh perspective.

I practice about five hours a day as I am preparing for a graduate audition. This number is subject to change and I often spend eight hours a day practicing before a competition.

November 28, 2005 at 04:11 PM · I saw Amy's comment about conservatory students...I barely have time to practice 2 hours a day! too many classes, etc...It terms of practice division, I agree with the numbers posted early on in the discussion: 1 hour scales, 1 hour etudes,etc. obviously, it isn't supposed to be an exact division, but an approximation. Over the summer, I did ten hours one day, and I found that if you mix your practicing up, and above all practice slowly 90 percent of the time, you can get a lot of good practice done...of those 10 hours, I would say 9 hours 45 minutes were good concentrated practice....pretty good for me, as I tend to just play when I am supposed to be pacticing

November 28, 2005 at 04:28 PM · 45 min - scales, bowing exercises

15 min - bio-break, nicotine ingestion

1 hour - bowing exercises, etudes

15 min - bio-break, nicotine ingestion, beverage

1 hour+ - piece work

Practice that runs much beyond that, for me, tends to get sloppy and unproductive as I begin to physically tire. I haven't been playing that long. If I have extra time later that day I'll usually indulge myself in a second serving of the pieces rather than trying to work more on technique exercises.

November 28, 2005 at 05:36 PM · As people have mentioned, it should be quality not quantity. Everyone has different stress loads and amount of time free to practice so basicly do what you can do to the best of your ability and make sure you have a life in the process.

I practice anywhere's from 1 hour a day to 5/6 hours a day during the course of a week. I teach quite late two days a week and I go to school so it's sometimes hard to get in a lot of practicing especially when I get home late at night and have exams to study for.

November 28, 2005 at 07:41 PM · I notice after 5 hours my playing usually goes sour. 3-5 hours is more than enough, if it isn't you probably aren't being efficient enough. I think the first hour should be spent on scales and they should be revisted at the beginning of each practice session.

November 28, 2005 at 08:39 PM · So, what counts as practice? For instance, if you've got a 3-hour orchestra rehearsal that day, do you also expect that you'll practice for another 5 hours, or do you cut that down?

For myself, any amount of playing makes it a good day. Some others of you might be a little pickier. :)

November 28, 2005 at 09:59 PM · In school, even though we played hard stuff like Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Dvorak, etc., I never considered that to be practice. You're not really improving your technique or anything else by just playing.

November 28, 2005 at 10:14 PM · I usually practice between one to three hours a day.

I couldn't imagine practicing scales for more than half an hour at a time.

I have found that they aren't very good for me to practice (or rather "learn") technique with, just to practice intonation and bow tracking as well as warm up my fingers and practice vibrato.

I practice them and know them all by heart, but all that I really have applied learning them to is to identify scales and various arpeggios in music I play.

November 28, 2005 at 10:53 PM · Violin T, if you look at the Axelrod Heifetz book there's an interview done when he was about 18 where he says he couldn't have lived if he'd had to do >3 hrs. He also had extended periods away from the instrument. I read that Oistrakh used to pick up his fiddle while still in his dressing-gown in the morning and reassure himself he could still play all the stuff, so his 5 hrs or whatever weren't very systematic!

No-one's mentioned your Mozart concerto either - for someone hoping to be a pro this is v important, so 3 hrs for scales, studies and Bach, then at least 30 mins on Mozart followed by romantic concerto, other pieces etc.

But the good news is:- I used to do that sort of thing years ago, I hardly touched if for 10, and now I've come back to it I can still play anything I know on violin or viola even though I only do maybe 1-2 hrs 4x a week, and no scales or studies.

November 28, 2005 at 11:04 PM · Charlie, scales are extremely helpful for technique and especially intonation. Do you do the Flesch System or just scales and arpeggios? Because if you want to maximize your learning technique with scales, the Flesch system is awesome.

November 28, 2005 at 11:13 PM · hell, I owe the fundamentals of what little technique I have to the flesch that my old teacher (Jody Gatwood) pounded in to me Galamian style!

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