After Hours Violin Training?

February 8, 2019, 11:09 PM · What are some things I can do to become a better violinist when it's too late to practice? Meaning what are some exercises, physical or mental, or anything else you can think of that I can do when practicing would just be too loud?

Replies (21)

February 9, 2019, 12:21 AM · Listen to as much music as possible, preferably with the score.
February 9, 2019, 12:56 AM · Practice mute.
Edited: February 9, 2019, 6:51 AM · Relatef question, being a night owl, with similar concerns, when is it too late to practice?
February 9, 2019, 6:58 AM · I would say after about 8/9 pm
February 9, 2019, 8:37 AM · With a circular saw, saw horses, and some simple hand tools you can make yourself an insulated practice booth out of 2x4 studs, half-inch plywood, and fiberglass (batted) insulation.
February 9, 2019, 8:49 AM · I've managed to practice as late as 10pm without complaint from my neighbors (but I've always heavily muted my violin after 9/9:30pm). I live in an apartment building, but my neighbors are the floor below me (also creatives), and my other neighbors are in the next building (so presumably do not hear me as much - even through a shared building wall).
February 9, 2019, 11:01 AM · This really depends on your living situation and on your neighbors--and room mates.

In rental places I have given myself the rule to never play past 9pm and it has worked fine with many different neighbors. I never play with practice mutes, I don't think it is as productive as the "real" tone and its variability.

Another variable in this "noise" problem is your playing level. You can not deny that beginners sound very unattractive for a while. So maybe beginners should limit the length of their practice sessions--not a problem with kids but adults might want to practice more than the neighbors can take.

February 9, 2019, 1:23 PM · Why not just ask the neighbors?
My neighbors (and roommates) said until 10pm is fine, so obviously I often play until 9:59... :)
February 9, 2019, 1:58 PM · Ear training? Unless you have perfect pitch, you never really have enough ear training.
February 9, 2019, 3:31 PM · There are many exercises to improve the flexibility of the joints. They are too difficult to describe here, read books by Kato Havas, Yehudi Menuhin and Herbert Whone. Here's one I invented years ago to practice while watching TV and not disturb anyone... Two pieces of dowel the length and diameter of the bow, one over your left shoulder holding in same position as the violin, the other in the bow-hold position to practice drawing the bow with the correct movements of fingers, wrist, elbow and shoulder.
February 9, 2019, 3:39 PM · My neighbors say it's fine going late, I keep asking them to make sure because I drift on by 10pm on the regular......but i also have a terrific practice mute. I bought it at the shop where i take lessons, the old dude who runs it suggested this OLDDD mute. It's metal and pretty heavy. It's probably like 6o years old. But it closes the sound up so it sounds like it's in a little box. Or the violin sounds like a baby doll version of itself, idk how to describe. It's a pleasant MUCH smaller sound. Actually I've played till midnight or whatever with this mute on. I usually put on the mute at 10pm.
February 9, 2019, 4:19 PM · At the moment I'm lucky -- although I live in an apartment and technically have quiet hours after 10pm, my neighbors in all directions don't mind me playing as late as midnight.

In my last apartment, neighbors did want me to stick to the 10pm limit. I've never owned a practice mute, so what I did instead was try to do everything I needed to do with the bow before 10pm, and practice left hand only (at most, playing pizzicato) after 10pm.

Edited: February 9, 2019, 5:38 PM · Russel, back to your original question - one practice technique that's extremely underestimated but nevertheless very effective (and not a new one at all) is mental practicing. No kidding, it works. I do it almost every day - on the train, the bus, or when I'm in bed and won't fall asleep. (Occasionaly also during especially boring lectures...)
You don't have to move a finger. Just imaginize the posture and any slightest little movements, the sound and even the smell of your instrument. It may sound foolish, yet it isn't. (Similar like mental training in sports.)
February 9, 2019, 9:17 PM · 1) Brass practice mute might buy you some more night-time practice time. Or a cheap "silent" electric violin.
2) Do right hand finger flexibility exercises holding your bow (or even holding a pencil). It's kinda like sideways pushups for your fingers while holding the stick. Look up youtube for ways to do these exercises. You bascially cannot do enough of them -- some teachers ask their students to do 10,000 flexes a day to strengthen and improve flexibility.
3) If you have difficult music you're learning, call up some recordings and follow along in your part, thinking about how you WOULD finger or bow it. Listen very carefully and try to figure out how the violinist you're listening to solved the problems. Or forget the recording, just study the music and analyze it bar by bar, thinking about relationships between the notes. For an experienced player, a lot of learning music is simply getting familiar with it.
February 10, 2019, 11:08 AM · I definitely agree with the score study suggestion. Not even necessarily what you're working on (though that's important), but also any piece that particularly intrigues you. I recently became aware of the vast wealth of scores in my school's music library, and I've been devouring chamber music since. Even if you don't have access to similar facilities, there are plenty of scores on IMSLP or even on YouTube videos.

Also, an interesting idea to test your memory of a piece would be to mentally play through the entire thing. Since you can't let muscle memory compensate for anything, you'll find out how well you know your repertoire.

The right hand flexibility exercises, as noted previously, are excellent. One that I particularly value is a pinkie strengthening exercise that involves holding the bow over the left shoulder, letting go of the index finger, and doing "tremolo" for at least a minute.

February 10, 2019, 11:15 AM · No neighbors to worry issue is having to listen to myself.
February 10, 2019, 1:03 PM · Record yourself during your daytime practice, and then review at night and come up with a targeted plan for the next day. Ditto on listening and score study. Harmonic analysis if that's a thing for you. Readrhythm app for developing sightreading rhythm chops. Shadow playing.
February 10, 2019, 8:43 PM · Thanks for all the suggestions. To be clear, I'm not looking to practice with the violin after 9pm as by that time I have already practiced my daily 1 to 2 hours and am usually too physically tired to do a second session. I'm just looking for mental and physical exercises to either strengthen playing muscles or just mentally prepare my mind for violin stuff.
Edited: February 10, 2019, 11:43 PM · For me, never past 9:00 without the practice mute.

With the practice mute I will push to 10 or 11, but because the walls are thin and some neighbors have children I respect that.

Mental and physical exercises, touch up your theory, listen to a quartet and follow one part the entire time, look at your music and mark fingerings without the instrument (I like this for guitar, not so much on viola. I think it has to do with the lesser degree of polyphony), stare lovingly at your instrument wishing you had the motivation to practice another hour... watch a masterclass... read ;)

edit: personal fav: Write something for your instrument and play it the next day.

Edited: February 11, 2019, 2:31 AM · It's tricky. My upstairs neighbours have DIY underfloor soundproofing, but I just can't know how good or bad it is. I only hear them when they sneeze. Otoh, they have their washing machine on regularly after 10pm. I could just go for it, but I also have self-consciousness to overcome.
Edited: February 12, 2019, 5:29 AM · I have played up to 10pm before without any complaints fromn the neighbours. I live in a ground floor flat, the only one in the block, so all my neighbours are upstairs and also the ground floor flat in the neighbouring block.

They can definately hear me when they enter the block but I am not sure if they can hear anything when tehy are in tehir flats. I very rarely hear anything coming from the flats upstairs.

I don't like practicing with a practice mute on so I don't play past 10pm.

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