Why sometimes you hate/love your practice session?

Edited: May 31, 2019, 6:39 PM · Hello, there are days that one feels an incredible improvement in sound and is very pleased about the practice session, but there are other days that one feels totally miserable at playing violin, like a "total" beginner, without good intonation, bad tiny sound. Many times this happens in consecutive days, like you're incredibly happy a Monday, and the Wednesday you play the same thing and feel completely "destroyed" about how bad you are.

Is it your mood that changes the perception of yourself?
I'm normally quite happy before practicing because I'm doing something I enjoy a lot, but the bad days transform as the practice time goes by that happiness into "sadness"/frustration.

Or do you really play that bad some days and that good others?

Practice room is the same, violin is the same. A violist said once that it's totally normal. He explained that the days you feel like you're so bad are the really good ones because you're improving at paying attention to errors and mistakes and you can fix them and know what's wrong. Instead, the good days are just motivational but you won't improve something you feel it's already good. So, the better you're at playing, the more errors and the more "frustrated" you get because you notice things you couldn't in the past.

Although I really liked that explanation and opened my eyes a little bit, I wanna know what you think about this, what's your opinion on these rollercoaster days when one day you're fine and the next you feel like a total rookie.

Replies (6)

June 1, 2019, 1:33 AM · I follow Hilary Hahn on social media and she's talked about experiencing this, which is encouraging for the rest of us.
June 1, 2019, 3:36 AM · Improvement and perception of improvement are often inversely proportional, I've found.
June 1, 2019, 9:55 AM · I do think that there are times when I play better than at other times. And times when I play pretty bad. Mostly the problem is intonation. It seems that progress is an intermittent phenomenon, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes, alas, negative.

I think the explanation of your violist friend is a bit too clever but it is certainly true that the bad times will cause us to pay more attention to basics.

June 1, 2019, 4:05 PM · I can relate to this 100%! Some days the bow will grab the strings well and the fingers feel like they know what they're doing... other days it's the complete opposite - sluggish fingers and a slippery bow. Even the violin seems less stable under the chin!
June 2, 2019, 8:57 AM · I'm just blue skying here, but practice is meant to ingrain neural pathways, strengthen myelin sheaths, etc. I don't think this is an overnight thing, but can take months, given previous experience. In the past I have practiced, practiced, practiced on another instrument, made no headway, put the thing down for months, pick it up again and I can do more than when I previously put it down, with no practice in the meantime.

Intermediate bad days might be attributable to a slowly changing brain structure that is incomplete and not totally coordinated yet in its changes.

I'm not a neural surgeon, but I play one on the internet.

June 3, 2019, 10:30 AM · Erik - haha! I have found this to be true of myself for sure... At my most recent lesson I swore it sounded like I had not practiced at all, and that I had in fact regressed, but my teacher said the opposite! We can be, to our detriment or benefit, our own worst critics or our own biggest cheerleaders.

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