Best way to practice
OK--so as a reminder I am back playing for 3 mos after having been off for 38 years. :-) So I'm still reminding my muscles about how to play. But it's going OK.
I mostly am practicing orchestra music by necessity. I got shanghai'd into the community orchestra earlier than I had really planned, and I very much don't want to be the weak link. My teacher is happy to use the passages I need to work on in lieu of etudes.
For the first concert I mostly concentrated on obviously hard/fast passages, and every time I practiced (an hour or so), I would play through all of them from 4 pieces. So a little on each.
But this didn't work so well, as I would be able to play a section when practicing, but I would be caught flat-footed by it in rehearsal, not having practiced the bits leading up to it.
So this time around, for the August chamber music concert, I am focusing on one piece at a time. Last night I practiced 2 hours and this AM for 30 min b/f work, all on the first 2 movements of the Haydn "FIre" Symphony. I work on the hard bits, with the metronome, then play a few lines above that over and over, going into the hard part. Then I go back to the beginning and do the whole thing, so I really know where the hard bits fit into the whole.
The downside of this is that I will probably be pretty well prepared for 2 of the 4 pieces at the next rehearsal, but will have done nothing on the other 2. Can hit them next week.
So I'm torn. I basically think my new way is better, at least for me, but it puts me in the position of still being borderline useless on some of the music at the next rehearsal.
Thoughts?? Should I focus tightly as I have been doing, or hit all the pieces instead?
Perhaps laying out a practice routine that also includes some technical exercises outside the repertoire you will be performing. Building up scales, arpeggios, sight reading, etc. This will help you develop as a whole player and will be able to approach more repertoire effectively in time. Interleaved practice works well spending about 2 minutes on each difficult section, but don't forget to play the whole piece or larger sections through a couple of times in each session. It may be a good idea to record yourself playing like its a performance and not self analyzing. We can only keep track of about 3 areas to work on while doing playing and accessing. Then listen back while notating in the score the most important sections to work on. This works well for me, but maybe also finding a good teacher to help you achieve more faster. It sounds like you practice a wonderful amount, and it's so awesome that you are playing again!
I recommend very strongly that you ask your teacher to spend an entire lesson showing you nothing but practice techniques for various different *kinds* of passages from your orchestra music. "Fast string changes." "Scale passage with fast shifts." "Arpeggiated passages." Etc. Tell him/her that you hear "slow-practice" was helpful and that you'd like to learn more about "slow-practice techniques." Make sure each specific technique is demonstrated for you, and explained to you why it works. Ask how you go from slow to regular speed -- that will vary according to each technique. You'd be surprised how many teachers assume you can figure that stuff out on your own just because you're all grown up.
My teacher is very helpful and has made many good suggestions about practice techniques. :-) She had a few great tips for a hard, fast triplet section at our last lesson.
In general, in a community orchestra, your core goal should be maximizing your contribution to the performance, rather than thinking of things on a per-rehearsal basis.
Also, as a community orchestra concertmaster myself, I want to share a pet peeve: What drives me nuts is players who assume that their job is to hit the correct notes -- i.e. a big left-hand focus. But the right hand is of just as great importance, maybe even more.
All great points, and I am taking them to heart. The reason I am a extra concerned about the notes is that there are 3 second violins, and one of them is 13. And we are working on the chamber concert, so it's all very exposed, with no convenient horns and trombones for cover. So every wrong not or missed note is heard, alas. Faking is impossible. Hence my stress level.
I had a meltdown over the weekend LOL--Just felt as if I was not EVER going to be able to play some of the stuff up to speed. I practiced SO MUCH this week, and all on orchestra music, and it seemed as if I had not improved at all. Au contraire! I played WAY better at rehearsal than last week, and kept up most of the time. When I did not was primarily on sections I had not really gotten to yet. So it's paying off and I feel much better. :-) I don't mind practicing my butt off as long as I see a return.
Kindly check "Violinist’s home practice – axioms and useful advices", the article of mine, maybe you'll find it helpful - https://academy.i-netkach.com/violinists-home-practice/
Sounds like you are doing OK!
Never fear, Andrew--I've always sought out good instruction in everything I have attempted, from riding horses to kayaking to music. :-) I agree that it's important!
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