Three-Hour Challenge (continued)

February 7, 2019, 10:35 PM · This continues a previous thread that's aged out into the archive: LINK

The goal of the Three-Hour Challenge is to tackle a work that's too hard to be properly learned in three hours, and to work it up to the best of your ability within the time constraint. It's an exercise in practice prioritization.

Here's the challenge rules:

  1. Learn a piece to the best of your ability with no more than three hours of practice time.
  2. Only actual practice time counts towards the three-hour time limit. Listening and the like does not count.
  3. Take audio/video using consumer equipment (a smartphone, Zoom/GoPro/etc.)
  4. Post to YouTube (private link if desired).

Paganini Caprice #16 is the baseline, but you can pick what you want.

Replies (23)

March 3, 2019, 7:42 PM · Bump! Still planning on it ... just really REALLY short on time. (And maybe a little on courage too!)
March 4, 2019, 3:47 AM · If we could restrict this to the first two lines (the "Introduction") I would be in for it. I don't like trashing a piece, and given my modest level I would not get past the first two lines in three hours. Or perhaps we can change the rules to: get an as long as possible part *reasonably* nice and clean in three hours. For example Irene Chen's version that inspired Lydia to formulate this challenge, basically got from the beginning to the end in those three hours but most amateurs on this forum will probably not get there.
March 4, 2019, 4:04 AM · I'd have to pick an appropriate viola piece, because I switched almost completely when I was still a beginner.

Also, I'm not practicing at all until the end of April, in order to recover fully from a shoulder injury.

March 4, 2019, 4:22 AM · I think the whole point is to attempt it, knowing well that you won't be able to do it completely sufficiently. You can listen to my 2:20 attempt if it would help you feel better about putting out an incomplete product.
March 4, 2019, 5:20 AM · hi Erik yes I got the point, it's just that I don't like it so I'm trying to shift the point a little bit :-)
March 4, 2019, 7:51 AM · You could also try one of the easier alternatives, or pick an etude that's very challenging but more doable. I think of this as an exercise in efficient learning, where it's as much about prioritization as anything else.
March 6, 2019, 9:20 AM · I'm with Paul! And I started two new short pieces and plum-forgot about tracking my progress with the longer/hard of the two pieces!
Edited: March 7, 2019, 10:03 PM · My latest 3 hour challenge submission.

Beggars Dance

A PDF of the sheet music is available at:

Beggars Dance (pdf)

March 8, 2019, 12:32 AM · Carmen, when you say "submission", are you implying that it's you playing in the first link? That sounds like a MIDI accordion or something.
March 8, 2019, 7:35 AM · Yes, it is me playing. You have no idea what it took to get that violin to sound like a MIDI accordion rather than an anemic, braying donkey. >grin<

I am working on an upgrade from the current VSO to a real violin, but I am being very fussy.

My current feeling is that starting with an inexpensive "student" violin is ok to see if the physical and mental challenges of learning to play a violin is something one wants to pursue.

But once one crosses that decision point, a jump to a violin that actually sounds like a violin is definitely the way to go.

March 8, 2019, 8:00 AM · I hate to ask this, but what is a VSO? I keep seeing that used...
March 8, 2019, 9:36 AM · "VSO" is a pejorative term, "violin-shaped object".
March 8, 2019, 9:41 AM · I had to agree with Erik that the sound of your violin is really weird. It sounds like you're playing through some kind of phase-shifting or chorusing effect. But the conditions of your recording could have caused this somehow. Anyway I thought your playing was fine -- certainly very even. The other thing that makes it sound a little like a MIDI rendition is the entirely flat dynamics.
March 8, 2019, 9:56 AM · The flat dynamics observation is something I am very aware of. The ability to vary dynamics adds a degree of sophistication and interest that is beyond my playing at this point.

An issue is the lack of responsiveness of the violin to the bow. This is a good argument to get a quality violin as soon as possible.

March 8, 2019, 10:09 AM · Timothy, three "levels" were originally proposed in the previous thread.

The advanced challenge is Paganini Caprice #16.
The intermediate challenge is Kreutzer #11.
The beginner challenge is Wolfhart op. 45 #3.

I'm stuck because P16 is too hard for me, but I've already learned K11 so I have to pick something else. I decided to do Schradieck No. 11 instead. I've put in the 3 hours, now I need to make the recording. *Gulp!*

March 8, 2019, 12:42 PM · I've gone and missed the point of this post (as is my wont), but here is my Rode Caprice #12 from my lesson yesterday. There's some sort of trombone buzzing in the background and I had a few restarts for the most egregious intonation errors. It was solid enough at least to move onto the next one.

I probably put about ten hours into this, but I didn't really keep track.

March 8, 2019, 1:29 PM · I never thought I'd see the day that people actually started posting recordings.
March 9, 2019, 8:54 AM · Carmen, great acoustics in Beggars Dance and fun to listen to wiith the music score.

Christian, I think your etude was wonderfully played with smooth string crossings with such minimal time to practice this.

March 9, 2019, 8:48 PM · Thanks Jeff. I always liked following recorded performance along with the sheet music. A habit I picked up from composition classes I took many years ago.

An advantage with posting recordings is it forces one to actually put in the work to learn a piece, and be humble enough to accept both positive and negative feedback.

March 9, 2019, 8:55 PM · Christian good work! Intonation is pretty good! There are a lot of studies like that in Book 1 of Schradieck and Dont Op. 37 that you can work on if you want more of the same. I'm in the same situation as you -- just need more drill playing stuff with lyrical lines and string changes in long bows. Hard to tell about your tone from the recording. I often find my tone is pinched or pressed -- this is an indication that I need more bow than I have.
March 10, 2019, 1:07 PM · Well done Carmen! For the level of piece you're working on, I'd say you have very good consistent tone and also good intonation, which is a good foundation for you for the future :)

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