You must be a member to respond to discussions.

Not a question....just a comment.

I have been working diligently on my new years refine my practice skills and aim for a more productive slot of time.  So this is what I've been doing and I have noticed a definite difference in what I'm able to accomplish in a sitting.

*start with finger strengthening
........I go through Beth's finger strengthening exercises, each finger every string in 1st position and I take my time.  I definitely notice that the notes are sounding clearer, even the 4th finger !

*Vibrato warmup/practice
........I start in 3rd position and do big fat vibratos, each finger....8 wobbles (?) per bow...up bow and down bow...each finger/every string.  Working on keeping the vibrato going at the bow shift and when switching strings.  After I do this in 3rd I move up to 1st and go through the whole thing again.

*Scales and shifting work  ("Introducing the Positions" and "Essentials for Strings")
.......I have a few scales in different books that I'm working with, along with the G harmonic minor scale that Beth has given us...I love the minors !  :-)     I work in vibrato during scales as much as I can, but I have to be careful as my arm (tennis elbow issues) starts to feel strained if I over do it. Vibrato is coming along, but like everything else, not fast enough for me !  <:-\  

*Wohlfhart !
........I "love" Wohlfhart !   I've had a few "know what they're doing" violinists ask me why the heck I like's because I KNOW the benefits I've gained from working through those books !  They are fantastic technique builders and I recommend them highly to anyone interested in improving on their techniques.  They're NOT easy...and frankly I don't think I've gotten a single one of them up to tempo, someday I will.

*Work on whatever piece I'm doing
........Right now I'm working on Seitz's Concerto #5, 1st the 4th Suzuki book.  I'm doing a fair job of focusing on the more difficult sections "first"....before I blow through the whole piece....cause you know that has to  I still need some personal discipline in that area, but doing much better.   I  usually don't notice any improvement until the next day though.  Which I find interesting.   I'll be going over a those spiccato parts (measures 30+ and the 16ths at the end) and having a heck of a time making any progress...but then the next day there's some improvement.  (never enough however because I "still" can't get it right!)
.......I also continue to work on Thais' Meditation if there's time, and a piece I was given for church...a duet...that someday might happen.  But that's ok, because if it ever does I'll be fabulous on it !

*play time !
........which usually doesn't happen for very long because by now I've completely run out of time and am going in to my "have to get ready to leave for work" time slot.   I am always very sad to have to put it down...  <:-(   This morning I played through "Sad Romance" a few that one !

Now I don't set a time limit for each section of practice.  I just go through each until I feel I've gotten "somewhere" with it...keeping in mind that I've got more to do so I just move on as I feel the need.  All this has to  happen in roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes....Monday through Friday.....before I leave for work....otherwise, it doesn't happen !   It's probably not the best way to go about this, but it's sure a LOT better than what I've been doing up till now. I keep crazy hours, anything else....if you LOVE find/MAKE the time for it !    Lord willing all this "focus" I've been practicing will make a difference in my progress !   :-)

24 Responses
Posted: October 5, 2011
Last Comment: October 9, 2011

Posted: October 9, 2011
yes Anne, the book will tell you all the different bowing patterns to practice with n2 :)

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: October 9, 2011
These are quite tricky bowing patterns you are all studying. Have to give them a try, too.

Posted: October 9, 2011
Patricia, you are on the right track with Kreutzer n2!!!

that is the 'bread and butter' for all violinists!!!  Itzhak Perlman and all masters I am sure are STILL doing kreutzer 2 now and again!!!  and yes, do the bowing variations on them as you said:  1 up bow and 3 slurred, then do 2 slurred up bow and 2 slurred down bow then 3 up bow slurred and one down bow and so on varying the bowing patterns!!  keep an ear open for your intonation being spot on all the time!

then do this exercise just with the third of the bow nearer to the frog, then with the middle third of the bow then with the third of the bow nearer to the tip paying attention to good tone :)

off you go girl :) xxx (it's an exercise on my diary I've had for the past 2 and a half years LOL ;))

Posted: October 9, 2011
LOL Anne !   I just went back and read some of that interview with Rachel Barton Pine.   Haha...ignoramus that I am I had no idea I wasn't supposed to admit to loving etudes !  Now I understand the response I got when I mentioned that on !   x-D

Posted: October 9, 2011
Right Patricia, what Jo said !

As long as you are practicing regularly...a little bit every day...and you focus well during that time slot, you'll make headway.  It's when you pick it up maybe only twice a week for 10 minutes that I think it's time wasted. 

So don't feel badly !  It's not a race and I don't think any of us are doing the "I practice more than you do so HA !" thing here.   For my part I posted this to perhaps help others who are struggling with "HOW" or/and "WHAT" to practice....along with just taking the time/opportunity to type it all out for my own benefit.  I think that helps to sort things out if.

I know when I started out and before I met Beth here at V-lab...I really didn't know what I was doing or how to get where I wanted to be with this.  What a wonderful thing to have a place to come for direction and encouragement and I try to make the most of it !

Posted: October 9, 2011
LOL Tricia, you are doing ok honestly!  it's not a race ;)  you are practicing regularly and that's what matters the most and if it's helping you going forward then it's working!  don't start pushing yourself too hard ok? xxx

Posted: October 9, 2011
LOL Anne, what a relief you'll have time for family and sleep!! ;)

I know how it can feel though :)

I have received the music to the wieniawski Obertass yesterday and 'gave it a bash' it's really 'fun', I can see I'll love learning it, in fact it will be hard not to look at it, but at present am working on four pieces so I can't overload myself, as you say, we need to sleep as well ;)

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: October 9, 2011
Eileen, you are in good company with liking Wohlfahrt. Rachel Barton Pine is doing a new edition with video demonstrations, see I played some as a child, before going to Kreutzer. Might try the ones in first position again to practice sight reading. They sound intriguing.

By the way, Jo, I learned the other day that my ABRSM Grade 8 exam will be in April. I had been reckoning with November, hoping for December. Big relief. So I am back to Beethoven Sonata 7, Sarasate Romanza Andaluza and some Bach. And continuing with that ear training stuff, but in a less frenzied way. Wow, there will even be enough time for work, familiy and sleep... After Friday's Beethoven Mass and a one-hour recital with my chamber music group later this month, that is.

Posted: October 8, 2011
very nicely pointed Eileen!!! that is true there are 'multi skills' one can practice at the same time, thank you for reminding us that :)

I also do as you say Eileen.....practice bow skills as I do scales  

also for example (and one can adapt to one's level so you could stop at 3 notes or one octave or 2 octave etc) you can practice slurring notes and adding more and more:

when I do my 3 octave scales I also work on my slurred 3 octaves and getting a nice tone over the 3 octaves, I'll start with one octave, make sure the notes are nicely distributed over the whole bow and that I don't finish my one octave with any 'unused' bow (so working on bow distribution), making sure the tone is nicely sustained throughout, only when I am happy about these things I'll move to 2 octaves then again when my 2 octaves are nicely distributed over my one bow and bow distribution is nice and even and tone is again nice all over then I move onto 3 octaves and aim to achieve the same results.


Posted: October 8, 2011
Shelly, I find that I can do a lot with working on bowing as I'm going slowly through the scales....sort of multitasking, which is a MUST have skill as a violinist !

My first go through a scale I'm bowing a long (tip to frog) slow bow, focusing on :

#1-intonation and tone.. making corrections as need.....

#2- thinking about what my arm is doing, how it feels, sometimes checking in the mirror to see how straight I am and thinking about/remembering... just what "straight" feels like with my arm. (so I can get rid of the mirror!)  I also check how tilted I am with the bow.  I have a tendency to tilt "too" much and I don't play flat on the hairs I have to pay attention to that and make corrections as needed.  I go through all that slowly first...then....

#3-When I feel I've got things where they aught to be I speed up my bowing a little and check all these things as I go, if all is going well I speed up a little more and do this until I've got a nice fast full frog to tip bow going.....hopefully everything is going nicely and I can move on to either another scale or a different technique.  Sometimes things fall apart as I speed up and I've got to go through it all again or just make adjustments here and there.

BTW.....I'm also working on vibrato through this as well, which adds another layer of things to focus on along with everything else.

Usually this takes about 15 minutes, depending on how many scales I go through.  Maybe this will help you to come up with some routines of your own as you try to work out a practice schedule for yourself.  :-)

Shelly ~ South Carolina
Posted: October 7, 2011
Eileen, thank you for your advice!  I'm fortunate in that I can usually practice 2 hours a day.  Not necessarily all in one sitting but definitely the two hours.  I'm really trying to work on intonation and bowing techniques.  Of course, now that I had to switch violins I feel like I'm starting all over again! I can't wait to get mine back from the luthier - though I have no idea when that will be.  :-(

JoJo - WOW is all I can say!  What a great list you have! :-)  And you're right - I do need to set something up for myself.  It would certainly help me be more organized if I can do like an excel spreadsheet that is similar to the practice sheet in the resource file;  just more detailed to what I need to do daily.  I think I will work on that this weekend! :-)

Posted: October 7, 2011

everybody's practice time is different, but you don't 'have to have' a certain strict schedule to follow...

let me explain...

most good teachers will agree that you should cover both 'technique' and 'pieces' (music) in all your practice sessions don't have to have a 'set' list of things to cover or a 'set routine'

I'll share my practice diary with you to give you 'one example' but please bear in mind that we are all different, you will have already seen what Eileen does and she is similar in some ways to me but also different too :)  and by the way...whilst what is on my practice diary are things that my teacher told me to practice, he has never told me in which order or what to do with my practice time/schedule, I have developed the diary all by myself! so you see? your teacher told your what to practice, now you can write it all down on paper and you can decide in which order to play it and what to do with it....if you feel you are 'struggling' do tell her and ask her for help :)

ok, my diary goes like this:

It has 3 pages, 2 pages for technique and one for 'music/pieces'

page 1 of technique has:
-Sevcik op 1 part 1 exercises 1/2/5/6/8/10/23/24
-Sevcik op 1 part 2 exercises 8/12/13/15/18
-Sevcik op 1 part 3 exercises 1/2/3/4/5/7 (do n.3+4 every day)
-Sevcik op 8 exercise 8
-Kreutzer n. 2/4/11/12/19/24
-Galamian scales in one position 

Page 2 of technique has:
-Galamian acceleration exercise (all major keys)
-Scales on one string 
-Open strings and slow bows (every day)
-all major and minor (both melodic and harmonic) scales and arpeggios in 1 octave (3 octaves are covered by sevcik op 1 part 3 already and 2 octaves are covered by the 'everything on' exercise) do every day and in same key as sevcik op 1 p 3
-2 octave scales and arpeggios (everything on)
-Chromatic scales (all) 
-Octaves up to 7th position 
-Harmonic Scales 2 Octaves (major keys only) 
-Eb Major in 6ths 2 octaves and arpeggio 
-F Major in 6ths 2 octaves and arpeggio
-Bb Major in 3rds 2 octaves and arpeggio

Page 3 (pieces/music)

-Sarasate Playera  (rhythm, tone & vibrato high on G)
-Vivaldi Four Seasons, Summer 1st Movement (work on increasing speed, maintain good intonation)
-Bach Allemanda (maintain good intonation, bow control good tone, clean shifts)
-Bach Sonata in A minor Allegro (just started/foundation work/intonation, memorise)
-Bartok dances (intonation, just started, smooth playing, practice artificial harmonics)

Ok, sorry about this, you can see I have rather a lot on my diary, BUT, my teacher always said: half of my practice should be technique and half music.  I aim to practice always minimum 2 hours a day anything more is a bonus, so I know roughly how much technique I can cover in one hour, so I'll do just a little of sevcik/kreutzer and scales/bow control and place a tick next to what I've done, then move onto my pieces and tick/make note of what I've done.  Next day I'll make sure I don't do what I have already ticked but do something which has NOT been ticked.
Teacher says I should cover all that's on my diary (technique wise) at least ONCE over a ten day period so every ten days I will re-write my list and make sure everything has been ticked at least once :)

Music is different, I will concentrate on what needs my attention the most but the page will help me to see what I have neglected for a while, so if I have not looked at a piece for a few days it will alert me of this and I will practice it.  My notes will remind me of how I am doing (though I usually don't forget how I am doing on pieces anyway LOL)

Ok, hope this will give you some ideas/hints/help, but as mentioned, everyone is different so you will develop your own way and no way is 'really' right or wrong so long that it works for you :)

Posted: October 7, 2011
Shelly you could make up your own schedule like I did.  I start with the exercises because it just makes sense to me to do that and get it out of the way first thing.....then scales and shifting......technique work and then on to the work in progress piece because all that other stuff you do before hand gets you ready for the performances piece.  

The trick is making/finding the time in some part of the day to get all that done.....  <:-\

Posted: October 7, 2011
You're right there Jz.....about just jumping in particular pieces and how that effects overall playing.   I've been playing/practicing like that for years and though I've certainly made progress....I don't think I've made quite as much as I could have if I had been practicing properly all that time.    So far I've been pretty good about following my  new plan and I've already noticed a difference for the better.   Every year I have the "vibrato by Christmas" this year I'll actually make it !!  :-)

Shelly,  I live near UCONN in Ct....and there are a LOT of violin instructors around but......they charge more than I can afford to pay right now.  I'm sure they are worth every bit of their fee, I just wish I could swing it because in person lessons would be wonderful !  *sigh*  <:-(

Shelly ~ South Carolina
Posted: October 7, 2011
Eileen, you are very organized!  I love your practice schedule!  I really need to write something down like this myself and stick to it as well.

I have had 4 lessons with my current instructor and while she writes things down for me to practice on, there is no set way of doing it.  I'm a very structured person and would like a schedule of things to do.  I feel our language barrier might get the better of me before too long.  :-(  She is Chinese and while she speaks English pretty well she doesn't always communicate as much as I would like or explain things as clearly as I need them to be explained.

Unfortunately I live in an area where there are not a lot of instructors - or those willing to take on an adult.  But, I am committed to her through the end of the year and I will go with it for now. :-) 

Posted: October 7, 2011
Thanks for sharing that, Eileen.  As I am still very much a novice, it's helpful to see how other people organize their practice.   I am always tempted to jump right into the pieces that I am working on in the limited time that I have and, while that may help me play those particular pieces better, it's probably not improving my overall playing that much. 

Posted: October 7, 2011
Anne, you can't do Trinity in Germany? that's really unfortunate :(

But the Advanced Certificate I am doing is grade 8....

though you are right that I can do the first 2 diplomas with no need to have grade 8.  So I could apply for ATCL and LTCL (associate and licentiate) without ever having done no grade, so one could do licentiate without even having done grade one! 

Only for Fellowship I will need to have Licentiate.  In fact, originally I was not even going to do the Advanced Certificate, I was going to go straight for the Licentiate, but I felt I needed a 'pit stop', something to give me a bit of a 'wake up', a 'nudge', I find I work better with a 'dead line' set.

After this I think I'll have a break and just go for Licentiate. 

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: October 7, 2011
That's a great program, Jo. And wow, chords and double stops, I find chords not easy at all, and while I can do reasonable clean double stops with good sound from the bow, I find vibrating them a big challenge. On the other hand, my harmonics in the Bartok are very very good. Isn't that interesting how we are all different.

I wish you best of luck with your programme and loads of fun! I am very much looking forward to your videos here.

I am a bit envious that you can do the performance exams at Guildhall without prerequisites. In the ABRSM system, I still need to do Grade 8. I've registered for this fall and am brushing up my pieces right now (Bach Partita E Gavotte en Rondeau, Wieniawski Legende and Rachmaninoff Dances Tziganes). This is the fun part. It is all the additional things that have me worried: Scales and arpeggios (kind of OK, am getting there), sight reading (am barely at Level 7 now), and aural test (ear training). The last one is a bummer: Singing the lowest part of a short three-part phrase after hearing it twice (no score!), classifying a cadenza at the end of a phrase after hearing it twice plus identifying the last three chords precisely (again, no score). I can sing the lower one of two voices from score while the upper one is played on the piano, and I hope to be able to say pertinent things about style and character of a short piece that will be presented. And all that as a prerequisite only, so that I can do the ABRSM performance exams, which will be challenging but fun. Crazy, isn't it?

Posted: October 6, 2011
Eileen, what a commitment to your new year's resolution! well done girl :) am really happy for you and am here rooting for you!!! xxxx

I don't do new year's resolutions but I still have goals, short term and long term ones...

you all know (I think) my long term goals and I also mentioned my shorter term goal which is to sit my exam next year (the Advanced Certificate in performance)

I 'think' I have now chosen my pieces for this which will be (teacher already confirmed these pieces are achievable):

-Bach Allemanda (Partita n2 Dminor, already in progress and basics done needs building on now)
- Bartok Romanian Dances (complete 1 to 6, started on these last week so far work in progress on n1/2/3/4, should start on 5 and 6 on saturday)
- Beethoven Romance in F (not yet started)
- Brahms Scherzo (not yet started)
- Wieniawski: Mazurka Obertass (op 19 n1, not yet started)

order of play not yet decided.

total play time: 28 minutes (we are allowed 25 minimum 30 maximum, we also have to present concert notes written in our own words.....)

so that's my medium-term goal, my short term goal is to get my artificial harmonics really good as they are to put it nicely....quite 'random' at present LOL LOL plus of course to get good bow control in my pieces especially when I am changing fast between chords and harmonics and jumping fast over two strings where I am mixing all these effects (am talking about the bartok and the wieniawski and pieces like that, but I am getting there..... ;))
I am very happy that chords and double stops are unfolding quite 'naturally' under my fingers (thankfully), at least one thing is not too hard as there are many others which are indeed very hard ;)

oh and let's not forget....another goal is to get some performances in front of friends/neighbours and strangers before my exam of course and some videos to violin lab :D

Posted: October 6, 2011
Good going...!

I'm afraid time has been limited lately so I just pick up and play Sad Romance / He's A Pirate / Hunter's Chorus / Smells Like Teen Spirit. All quite poorly :(

I keep meaning to make a start on the William Tell Overture, my favourite piece for the violin, it's way beyond me but you have to start somewhere. I listen to it quite a lot and air violin it...!

Posted: October 6, 2011, Lora wouldn't go for that.  In fact....she's 3  hours behind me so we usually do one around 10am her time, which makes it 1pm my time....on a Saturday no less.   I have this monday off for Columbus Day so am having a lesson at noon.  We try to get together at least twice a month.   I so look forward to them !

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: October 6, 2011
Good to hear about the online lessons. I bet that Laura is an excellent teacher, too. And one-on-one lessons, even if done over the Internet, are very helpful. So, are you doing those at five in the morning :-) ?

Posted: October 6, 2011
Well Anne, I'm "trying" to be...haha !   Hopefully I'll stick to this.   There are interruptions from time to time when I have to work on music for church....then I toss out a few things to make room for that, but so far it seems to be working well.

What's really helped me to knuckle down is that now I have an accountability partner.  I've started online lessons with Lora Staples and she's been a big help in a lot of ways, one being that....."now"  I have someone I have to answer to besides myself.  I've known all along that that's just what I needed to twist my arm to get serious about focusing.  

Online lessons aren't the fact the last one we had there were issues with the mic cutting out and we couldn't figure it, that was a bummer...still had to pay as she cuts the cost of her online lessons in half to cover for things like that...and the fact that it just isn't as good as "being there".   Still, this is better for me.....I need the regular checkups a lessons affords. 

Of course, this doesn't keep me from learning all I can from Beth as well !  Beth is such a wealth of information and help....maybe someday she'll offer online instructions as well......*pokes Beth*   ;-)

Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: October 6, 2011
Wow, impressive, Eileen. Your are well-organized and so dedicated! Thank you for sharing.