How to improve as much over the summer as possible with no teacher but a lot of time?

Edited: June 10, 2018, 7:46 PM · Unfortunately, I’m in a sticky situation with a lot of time to practice but no chance of a teacher. However, I really want to use my time to really improve. Right now, I’m pretty intermediate and can play Roumanian folk dances and Kabalevsky. How would you structure 2-3 hrs per day to be as efficient as possible? I’m thinking Kreutzer and Sevcik double stops, trills, and bowing. I'll definitely work on my practice habits by keeping a journal and recording myself.


Replies (10)

Edited: June 11, 2018, 8:21 AM · One thing I did, between teachers; acquire a copy of Flesch Violin Fingering, put it on the stand, plow through. And there are more technical books like that by, Ricci, Szigeti,..
June 10, 2018, 9:28 PM · Do lots of listening to recordings to get some help with interpretation, and do lots of recording yourself so you can pinpoint areas that you can work on. Also spend this time polishing weak areas of your technique whatever it takes. You can also start looking at new pieces that your teacher says you can learn.
June 11, 2018, 4:36 AM · Three words:


Don't try to teach yourself to become more advanced without a teacher; that just leads to having to unlearn whatever you do wrong. Focus on what you've already been taught, and trying to do that not just better, but absolutely correctly. That means listening to yourself and concentrating on the little stuff. That will make you sound much more polished and facilitate moving ahead quickly when you return to your teacher.

June 11, 2018, 7:23 AM · Deliberate practice. Identify your weaknesses, and work so they become strengths.

You sound bad? Work on bettering your tone.
Your intonation is awful? Make yourself play in tune.
Rythm is off? Get the steady pulse inside your blood.

Sure, a teacher is a good shortcut and can help you grow faster, but that doesn’t mean you should stop practicing altogether while you don’t have one.

June 11, 2018, 7:34 AM · What has always worked for me has been to have a specific goal. For example select a piece of music you want to be able to play (hopefully at performance level) by the end of the summer and go to work on it. Look at the parts you cannot handle now, break them down into study portions, look for etudes/exercises that emphasize the needed technique improvements and use them in your daily warm-ups.
And "go to town" on it.

When I was doing all that a number of times in my earlier life the means to record oneself well were not available. But by recording yourself and listening you will not be able to avoid hearing your mistakes - or your improvements.

June 11, 2018, 6:33 PM · Recording yourself is a must. Developing a critical ear and the ability to be self-critical requires reference points.

I'd spend a portion of time on the must fundamental aspects of playing, like posture and tone production. I can't tell you how many college students show up with what they perceive are very high-level problems but end up being the direct result of not thinking about how they hold their bows, how fast they move their bows, or what part of the finger they have touching the string.

Edited: June 12, 2018, 5:53 AM · Some amateurish suggestions.....
First , have a lots of ice-cream
Second, practice one scale per day (3 octaves, arpeggios, broken thirds, chromatic, double stops)
Third, practice open strings
Fourth, find a group of musicians and play some chamber music.

Did I mention ice-cream?!

June 12, 2018, 1:21 AM · If you're not sure what technical aspect of playing to work on, record yourself playing, preferably on video, and pick something you're not happy with. I do that daily, and often choose exercises or etudes to work on based on what I've been dissatisfied with in recent practice sessions. Sometimes, I've spent a month or two working on one thing if it needs serious remediation. (For example: bowing exercises every day for the whole summer in 2016.)

Aside from that, all the advice above about deliberate practice and listening to yourself critically is good.

Edited: June 12, 2018, 5:09 AM · Hi,

Some professional suggestions...

First off, scales and arpeggios are a good idea. Kreutzer would definitely be on the list at your level. I would suggest Sevcik Opus 8 for shifting and Opus 9 double-stops for sure.

Just as important in my opinion, it is how you practice also that makes the biggest difference, not just what you practice. If you have issues with your setup or other obstacles in your playing, looking into those would be worthwhile.

For ideas on how to practice, I have posted this before but the following link on slow practice by Hilary Hahn has excellent information in a quite concise presentation:

Hope this helps...


June 12, 2018, 6:31 AM · Make Schradiek school of violin technique vol. 1 part of your daily practice.

Remember a few things:

1) the first two pages are not only a finger exercise but also a template for how your fingers should move throughout the entire volume. The fingers should come down easily with a snappy motion. There should never be any sort of squeeze or grabby motion involved.

Practice them on all four strings with every finger combination. As you move through the positions your finger motions should emulate the first two pages as much as possible.

2) Some of the extensions are quite difficult for someone new to the books. Don't kill yourself if you don't nail every single one right off the bat. That will probably introduce tension you don't want. Get as close as you can when you first attempt each exercise and gradually try to reach higher and higher as you gain comfort playing them. Bring your elbow underneath!

3) Don't use the printed bowing right off the bat. Use whatever bowing is comfortable at first, even if its just 4 notes per bow.

Have you played Accolay? It's easier than Kabalevsky but a wonderful piece for developing tone and if you can play Kabalevsky you should be able to manage it on your own. Think tone and resonance at every juncture, and keep a close eye on your bow speed. Accelerate your bow through crescendos and decelerate when the music calls for it. For example - The very first melody should begin with a solid but slower bow that accelerates to the top of the figure.

I consider it one of the best tonal teaching pieces out there for students.

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