Adult beginners, playing longevity and practice regime
I had recently suffered from health issues (not directly related to violin playing) and had to stop the violin for nearly a year. Prior to that, I had been practicing assiduously every day for a couple of hours and was making good progress.
Now, hopefully on the way to feeling better, of course, I have to, yet again in my life, retrace the path to get back to the same level. I am lucky in that I had recorded my lessons with my last teacher, who was really good and methodical. So, having my notes, my recordings and the practice material on hand, I can go through these until I get to a point where I feel it would be worthwhile going back to having weekly lessons.
These recordings got me to thinking of whether people here have worked out a system or other tactics that help them ensure that they continue, in one way or the other, practicing the violin and what sort of practice regime worked best in the long term: i,for instance, spent most of my free time practicing violin...in the short term that was good...but in the long term, that meant I had less time to incorporate other healthy habits which would have smoothened over the rough bumps life throws in our way.
I stick to short(ish) 30 minutes just once or twice a day. In truth, I haven't got time to do much more than this anyway. But short sessions are enjoyable and easy to get motivated for. It's also less demanding physically. I'm hoping this strategy means I can continue to practice everyday, without my ageing body giving up on me. :D
I concur with Stewie's comment about 30 minute bursts. I do mine between 2-6 times per day (recent hours change at work has made more time available for practise)
I returned to the violin 10 months ago, and I do have various neck and shoulder problems that require me to pay close attention to posture and other things so I can continue to play the violin for, hopefully, the rest of my life. I pay attention to my body and will change the following when needed.
My advice is to do as I did (see below), go back to where you can sort of replicate your ability at some past stage and repeat the path you followed from there. It should not take nearly as long as it did previously to progress to the level you finally achieved before your troubles.
I am somewhere on Andrew's path but with one important difference. He took a year off because of an injury, whereas I took 25 years off out of sheer stupidity.
When I retired seven years ago, I was a stressed-out physical disaster with no exercise program, I was (and remain) pre-diabetic, and I weighed 65 more pounds than I do at the moment. I looked around at my peers, many of whom, like me, were making assumptions that things would just keep on rolling. However, that has proven to be a fools presumption. To be blunt - people were and are dying far too young. Last month two people I know died within a week at 67 and 68 years old. A friend is going through chemotherapy, and my ex-wife's husband is dealing with cancer in his bones at 74 years old. It doesn't look promising. It's a different world at this end of the spectrum, but it's never too late to create time to do the best you can so you can go as long as possible in the best condition. So I took it upon myself to lose the weight, exercise, and keep my mind active. A big part of that includes learning violin. Like others, I practice in 30 minute sessions. I'm lucky enough to be retired, so I can take charge of my time. On a typical day I will practice exercises for 30 minutes, take a break and do laundry, make the bed, do dishes, and so forth. Then I'll do a second 30 minutes concentrating on pieces for my weekly lesson. This is followed by another break where I'll take a short walk, do more chores, make some lunch, an so forth. Then I will do a third 30 minutes focusing on selections I have had for a while. At least once or twice a week, I will go on and play just about everything I've been taught. So, I practice roughly 90 minutes a day. All of this is integrated into an exercise schedule of yoga two or three times a week, Pilates, bicycle riding, walking, and weights at a local gym. I'd like to say my diet is always healthy, but I do enjoy a glass or two of wine with dinner. None of this is taken for granted. At the moment - as my blog on the title page shows - my right wrist is recovering from a bicycle accident, but I'm going to keep on doing whatever I can to stay healthy. I know at some point all of this may/will come crashing down, but I want to delay that moment for as long as possible. Without your health - physical and mental - well, let's just leave it at that.
I'm an adult returnee, not an adult beginner. I quit twice for a decade -- once mid-college, and once when we moved cross-country, totally disrupting my musical life.
@Lydia, I feel you. I have the time to do just no energy/motivation. If I worked during the day like normal people, I'm 100% sure thst wouldn't be a problem
Senior here too - but you kinda have to keep me out of the practice studio. I love it and usually do 2+hrs a day. On retirement we bought a property that is partially off-grid and the work helps to keep me fit without exercising, at least when we're not snowed in!
Enjoyment ensure longevity
Last Friday morning 5 or our "Serenade Group" of "seniors" met as a quintet and played through the GREAT Schubert C Major 2-Cello Quintet. It was our first violinist's first time playing that quintet and he did a fabulous job (thanks to IMSLP and a chance to practice the part much of September) and the rest of us had played it before, I have actually played all the parts at least once over the years, starting with preparing a performance of the first movement on the 2nd cello part 55 years ago, shortly before our youngest child was born - I usually play viola in this current group.
I agree with having a musical outlet. And I need lessons but can only manage every other week. That's way better than none. As for practicing motivation, I have two: one is to say to myself "just 15 minutes". That doesn't seem like much and when I start practicing it turns into 30-40 minutes. The other is to say "my favorite radio program cames on in 20 minutes. I'll practice until then. What I've found is that I keep increasing the time between practice start and radio start. So even if I'm not motivated to practice, once I get going I end up with a good practice session.
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