How to practice without the instrument?

Edited: March 3, 2018, 4:04 AM · Will be going on a school trip for abt a week and cant take my violin with me and ive been picking up gd pace and progress with my practicing lately. Any ways of "practicing" without actually needing the violin?

Replies (8)

March 3, 2018, 4:30 AM · You can practice in your head. It is called mental practicing. Athlets do this all the time. It is very effective but requires a lot of concentration. Basically what you do is to imagine yourself practicing. I usually close my eyes to do that so that I can focus better if I know the piece by memory. Otherwise I do this reading the music. This is very good for learning a piece by memory but also for learning the notes of a piece when it is still new. Imagine your playing with as much detail as you can. How does the bow feel on the string? Up-bow or down-bow? What part of the bow are you using? Upper half? Lower half? Which articulation? What finger of your left hand is playing what note? On which string? Which dynamic? What position? Where are you shifting? Hear the sound in your head and feel how your arms, hands and fingers play. Don't be surprised if you can only do this 5-10 minutes at a stretch. The concentration is deep. Take a break and then continue. It is a bit challenging but extremly effective!
Edited: March 3, 2018, 6:43 AM · I memorized the first movement of the Franck Sonata on a cross-country flight. When I got back home it was about 90% there. That might not seem like much music (two pages) but I'm ordinarily quite terrible at memorization.
March 3, 2018, 7:06 AM · Another nice thing you can do is to take two video-recordings of a piece you really like performed by two different players you really like. Take a piece of paper, listen closely and write down all your observations. What is it about each of the players that you like? Can you describe the differences in sound? What about the phrasing? Do they do things differently regarding technique? What kind of vibrato do they use? Does one use more bow than the other? ...? ...? ...?
If there's another violinist (or other musician) in your class, you can also do this together.

Edited: March 3, 2018, 9:04 AM · All sorts of things you can do with a pencil to exercise your bow hand. Google it.
March 3, 2018, 9:53 AM · see if yo can write out a piece you're trying to memorize.
March 3, 2018, 9:57 AM · Scott, this is the best thing I've ever heard so far for mental practice! Thank you!
March 3, 2018, 12:23 PM · This is a great topic and I love the responses that have already come in. Here are my suggestions of things you might do... not to be done all at once, but in rotation. No. 1 is the most important I think.

1) Sing all your rep in full voice for phrasing, rhythm, and of course pitch (dance or gesture at will too)
2) shadow bow (with pencil or just plain arm with singing
3) Score study the piano part, mark cues etc.
4) memorize without the instrument (phrase structure, key points, bowings etc)
5) Harmonic analysis (only if you are at that point and know harmony)
6) Watch professionals on youtube playing the piece (mirror neurons will fire!), maybe study their bow distribution and other particulars
7) Make a list of things that are coming slowly in the piece and find tutorials on youtube (big shifts, string crossing or whatever) that cover this. Make a list of what you want to try out when you get back home.
8) Name intervals and positions. Also name intervals across the strings (i.e these notes are spaced a major third apart etc in the hand.
9) Lastly, enjoy some time away entirely, a break is often a great impetus for loving it more when you get back.

March 3, 2018, 1:03 PM · Bring a score and try to mark it. the act of thinking about bowing and fingering would have already simulated what goes on in practice.

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