Practice sessions

January 17, 2019, 11:16 PM · Dear all,

I have been wondering about the rightful practice system. How can one utilise the time to the maximum efficiency (weightage considering 2-2.5 hours practice) for the following?

Scales
Technical Exercises
Pieces
Studies

PS: Please note that I'm learning for almost 5-6 years and is studying some Kayser etudes. Anything more to add in the above list? If so, please help. Also what would I start with? And what would be the order after that?


Replies (16)

January 17, 2019, 11:59 PM · Traditionally, practice time is divided into four equal segments: scales and exercises, etudes, a concerto, and a short virtuosic work or solo Bach.

A less advanced player might do a single piece of repertoire rather than both the concerto and short work.

January 18, 2019, 6:08 AM · I divide my practise time so that I can focus on what's important. I won't spend an hour on Bach I've already memorised when I've just started something new...
Edited: January 18, 2019, 9:30 AM · Hi,

As a professional, my practice time is devoted to some daily technical work that I personally need, and then, whatever is on the docket or upcoming larger projects.

There is no traditional practice time; what Lydia does/suggests is what some people do. However, the one thing that is traditional practice for all top players that I have known is slow practice. As one of my World-class performing teachers used to say "If it's not slow, it's not practice!"

In terms of dividing time, it is about how you practice not just what you practice. You probably need some of everything, and some things need more time than others depending on what you need or have in front of you. The biggest thing that I found for me, is pretty much what I learnt from Mauricio Fuks which is the 80/20 rule. 80% slow, planned, methodical and controlled practice and 20% playing.

So, it is about what you need need for where you are at. For students that are in the process of building for long-term success (although we build all our lives), then, in my experience more time on the technical elements (scales, exercises, etudes) and some repertoire. A balance of everything, but more technical material in the mix for sure.

You will probably get many responses from many people, some amateurs, some professional performers, some teachers. Then, you can devise what works for you. For your specific list, I would start with technical exercises, then scales, then etudes, then repertoire. For my own past less-advanced students, who did a similar split, most would be to divide time equally so 25% for each of the 4 categories.

Cheers!

January 18, 2019, 7:01 PM · I hope Mr. Krakovich gets to read Mr. Vachons post above!
January 18, 2019, 10:51 PM · First post.

First question: Is there a list linking to different forums by subject below each title? I would like to introduce myself. I'm on the road all the time so an instructor is not available. Not a good choice, but all I have. I'll need friends here.

Second question: A beginner text starts off with care for the instrument. Hands are supposed to be clean before touching the instrument. Will baby wipes do? Mine are supposedly safe for baby faces, so very mild. No alcohol, hypoallergenic, with aloe and vitamin E. Do I need to carry water for rinsing after the baby wipes? Many places I go I have to question the faucet water quality. It smells and feels pretty bad. I'm afraid to touch the instrument with hands cleaned with just baby wipes unless I'm confident the chemicals will not do damage.

Second question: Mr. Vachon's suggestions seem quite useful and practical, but I'm not there, yet. However, Mr. Vachon allows for individualizing curriculum to meet individual needs. I'll be dumming it down to practicing pizzicato while properly holding the violin and bow. Lots of basic technical instruction on the internet. Such practice will reeducate about reading music, something I knew how to do 49 years ago. Before learning about environmental factors warping my guitar's necks the painful way. Sound about right?

Oh, I have a Glasser CCVN-4/4 Kit, plus appropriate accessories. A wooden instrument would not survive where I live. Another tough choice.

January 19, 2019, 12:26 AM · Ken, to start a new thread: At the bottom of the forum index is a "Start a discussion" button. Use that to start a new thread to introduce yourself and your questions.
January 19, 2019, 2:00 AM · With your practice time, I would personally do half an hour scales, half an hour technique, half an hour on one study per day (alternate them if you are learning more than one) and an hour on repertoire. It can differ based on your needs, but I feel like this is an appropriate division of the time.
January 19, 2019, 6:56 AM · Yes.. Thank you all for suggestions.
January 19, 2019, 10:52 AM · Hi - my son splits his about 30 minutes scales and Schradieck, 45 minutes etudes (incl caprices), and 45 minutes pieces (incl solo Bach). It varies somewhat, especially if he also has chamber music or orchestra stuff he needs to work on.

For scales he does the Flesch book, one key changing every week or two. He does one single string set (alternating #1-4), all of #5 minus the chromatic (2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 per bow for the scales), half of #6-8, a few measures of #9, and all of #10.

Schradieck is usually parts of about 3 different ones, mostly for warmup and to promote posture and evenness.

He's still finishing Kreutzer and does 2 of those a week or two weeks.

1 Dont Caprice (usually takes a few weeks to master).

1 Paganini Caprice (usually takes a few weeks to master).

2 movements of a concerto or equivalent (one learning; one polishing).

1-2 movements of solo Bach.

January 19, 2019, 12:52 PM · I put basic exercises before scales, which are already a compendium of techniques.
January 20, 2019, 8:23 AM · I have a mixture of scales, pieces, open strings/tone production
January 21, 2019, 12:57 AM · Thanks to all..

Susan: The detailing would really help.

Jake: Yes, I have seen a lot of soloists performing open strings before their concert.

January 21, 2019, 2:12 AM · In addition to what others have said, I'd like to add that I've started writing a list of particular spots that need the most work so I can be sure to tackle those every day. This is particularly helpful to me since I don't often get to practice as much as I'd like to, and it makes good use of my time and guarantees that I consistently tackle the bits that are giving me the most grief. When I get an item on the list to the point where it's no longer difficult for me, I just cross it off.
January 21, 2019, 10:13 PM · Well said, Michael!
January 21, 2019, 11:55 PM · What matters just as much is learning to practice effectively. When glossing over mistakes, it makes little difference how much you practice - except to reinforce the mistakes being made. Be discliplined, be picky with yourself. Listen carefully - to your teacher and to yourself play, along with other recordings . Practice slowly first and bring up the tempo. There’s the adage, if you learn by playing it slowly, you’ll forget it slowly. If you learn by playing it fast, you’ll forget it fast. Your approach to practice matters as mush or more than how the time is exactly divided.

Excellent teachers know how to instruct students to practice in a manner that develops proficiency efficiently. On a basic level, they know what exercises, etudes, scales to pair with the repertoire being learned. In addition to technique, they teach you how to improve on your own, so that you become more self-sufficient at figuring out what and how to practice. If you do not have this yet, when you find it, it’s transformative. It’s also why young players with parents (or multi-generational family) who play, have a tremendous advantage.

January 22, 2019, 6:52 AM · Yes, that's the reason I asked about it in the discussion forum. Learning of knowing what exercises, etudes, scales to pair with the repertoire being learned is extremely helpful. Thus, I feel rightful practice system is more important than anything else. And yes, then come hours! As the story with Mischa Elman goes, its "Practice, practice & practice"!

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