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Dianne
It seems I come up with a practice plan, stick with it for months at a time, then something comes up like orchestra to change it all. Then I spend a few months developing a few techniques, then create a new practice plan again. I'm starting to see that kind of a cycle.

What are you working on in your practice plan?
Dianne
14 Responses
Posted: June 23, 2019
Last Comment: July 1, 2019
Replies

Lesley
Posted: July 1, 2019
I have made repeated efforts to take notes but it becomes so time-consuming that I inevitably abandon it. Now my strategy is to just focus on one or (max) two things per session.

Ray
Posted: July 1, 2019
Yes, I take notes, so many things to correct that I get bogged down by the amount of my notes.  :)))

Dianne
Posted: June 30, 2019
Taking Notes
Do you take notes during your practice session? I normally just make mental notes to myself, but today was one of those days where a number of things needed attention. In addition to these things, my 3 octave scale with 4 notes/bow still gives me trouble in the 3rd octave on the E string. I ended up writing it all out with fingerings and note values just so I could see what I was doing. Then I realized I wanted to change my fingerings to 123 1234 for ABC DEFG where before I was doing 12 12 123 which seemed to make the coordination even more challenging. Hope this makes sense.

Ray
Posted: June 28, 2019
Like you, I make plans and stick to them for awhile until I get stuck on seeing the individual trees instead of forest.  Part of the plan is to work on more than one piece but then I start focusing on only, say intonation, on one piece of music and then when I look around at making another plan it is months down the road.  And like you I see the cyclical pattern over the years. 

Dianne
Posted: June 27, 2019
Very nice practice plan Lesley! I really like your enthusiasm for it and that is inspiring me as well. I've set 3 months as a checkpoint to see how it's going, so the end of September. By then I should be out of Wohlfahrt and starting Kayser. I should be well into book 1 of Trott Melodious Double Stops. I might even be on the review of the last piece in Book 4 - the Bach Double 2nd violin part. If I arrive at all this with a solid summer of practice, then I will be glad that I stuck with it. It feels to me like combing through the exercises, scales, etudes, and repertoire in order to avoid what I was doing, which was just working on one thing at a time.

Lesley
Posted: June 27, 2019
"What are you working on in your practice plan?"

I have a plan now -- inspired by you! So excited! Tried it today and it's really made a difference on so many levels -- mostly because I feel I've just blasted away a whole bunch of mental clutter that was standing in the way of my progress. This plan is very bite-sized and is perfect for me. Found the "time factor" (which I was strict about -- used my phone timer and stopped dead whenever it rang!) made me vastly more efficient, yippee. As you can see, there is just "Nina" left to do... my dessert! Thanks Dianne, for the inspiration!



Lesley
Posted: June 24, 2019
"hitting as many areas as we could in our hour long lesson"
This makes so much sense to me! This is actually what I aspire to. Not just in lessons, but in practice too. I couldn't agree more that "hitting the areas daily" is what leads to progress. I think I need to follow your example and start putting together daily and weekly hit lists.

As for recognizing bits of (composed) music in scales, yes! I've had that happen and it's very exciting. Curiously, more knowledge doesn't take the magic out of music -- quite the opposite.

About your DS experience: that too sounds familiar, i.e. going (seemingly) too far beyond your comfort zone, stalling and getting frustrated, but then finding (after an interval) that things suddenly "work" and the plateau is now a thing past. As if the brain/body machine has caught up with our ambitions, or something. Congrats for busting out of the flatline!

Dianne
Posted: June 24, 2019
Timothy and Jaime, thank you so much for sharing your practice routines. You are all an inspiration!

Dianne
Posted: June 24, 2019
Lesley, that's great that you have a teacher! I actually got this approach to practicing from my 2nd teacher. We timed everything, switch up and hitting as many areas as we could in our hour long lesson. It wasn't exactly interleaved practicing (I've tried that too) but what it does for me is allow me to hit the areas daily so I make steady progress, and there's not so many things on the list that it becomes impossible, and it's not boring at all. Yesterday I tried my new practice routine, and it took two sessions and I found I will have to build stamina for it. But that's a good thing! The funny thing is, I was practicing a 3 octave GM scale yesterday, and when in the 3rd octave, I used the guide notes as real notes, and I heard a common piece, as if someone made the student piece out of the notes. I wish I could remember the name of the piece but I certainly know the melody from this. These are the kinds of breakthroughs I'm having right now,  where everything seems to be slowing down to the point that I can hear what is going on in pieces, and things are getting very interesting as a result. Another bonus: when I tentatively started again on Melodious double stops (couldn't stand the book), I was able to play the next etude in sequence as a result of the three Seitz pieces I worked on this Spring. They may have sounded so so in the Seitz, but it was the work I did on them that was important, and that made it possible to play Trott's next etude easily. I couldn't believe it. The double stops stopped (no pun intended) feeling so foreign and uncomfortable in the arms, and that was what made me dislike the book prior, they were just too hard for me at the time. It could also have been the added work of scales in 3rds I started last week. Something worked! Whatever it was, scales and  going slowly back through Book 4 again is helping so much. I look at Trott so differently now. Finally! I've been waiting for this to happen. Out of one plateau in DS that lasted for years.

Lesley
Posted: June 24, 2019
I just want to add, I love études... I don't find them boring or technical at all. When I play them, I can't help imagining the guy writing them, holed up somewhere in a little room and sort of condemned to bang out these very technical exercises but secretly yearning to express something beautiful! Well, maybe that's just fanciful. But I see no reason études can't be pleasurable or expressive, and as much as I try to focus on technique while playing them, the real value of them for me is in trying to make them sound like music.

All that being said, I do really admire your drive, organization and methodical approach. I'm sure this is THE way to "suddenly" make that quantum leap where everything just fuses together into something astonishing. I'm sincerely hoping my teacher infuses my practice with some structure.

Jaime - Orlando , Fl
Posted: June 23, 2019
Hi Dianne!
Im kind of a "mixed bag"! hehe
Nevertheless, trying to introduce "expression" into my playing. 
Of course, a BIG key is being able to play in tune, use the bow wisely, distribution... but as I continue to explore things like shifting and vibrato, I try to add some expression.... I think it makes me strive in a different direction, a new kind of challenge :0)

Timothy Smith
Posted: June 23, 2019
Dianne I can tell you're a very driven and organized person who wants to keep improving.

What works for me probably wouldn't work for you. I don't think I'm quite that organized. I mostly do what I can when I can. I try to take at least 10 or 15 minutes to work on technique that I know I'm rusty on. For the rest I'm similar to Lesley, I need to get some positive feedback from my instrument or I won't keep playing so I play some things I know, I work on a few new things and usually keep the strictly technical stuff to a minimum because it bores me silly. I won't lie. I'm sure you'll probably progress much faster than me with a more stable technique centric plan.

Last week for me was a real challenge to even get a violin in my hands, let alone practice one. I still managed to do it sporadically.Thankfully this week should be much better. I tend to lay guilt trips on myself when I miss practice. My organization is more like a rough outline compared to your refined areas you designate to work on. 

Lesley
Posted: June 23, 2019
I very much approve of the systematic approach but some part of me just hates sticking to any kind of plan. So for now (since I've decided that this is my learning style), practice is mostly two hours of whatever I feel like playing. Mostly scales and arpeggios (sometimes learned, sometimes invented) with some Wohlfahrt and Schradieck thrown in, all of it in varying proportions. I'm focusing mostly on tone and trying to pull a beautiful sound out of the instrument, as well as on trying to banish tension. My thinking is that I don't want to take on anything too too technical until I've really mastered the basics, since those are already challenging enough. Recently though, I got a teacher, so we'll see what he has to say about practice.

Dianne
Posted: June 23, 2019
Here is my new plan w/very rough estimates of time that I started today after deciding what to do with etudes!

30 minutes exercises:
open strings and double stop open strings, full bows
spicatto
vibrato
shifting
challenges: building stamina for vibrato exercises; variable speed spiccato

30 minutes scales:
(1) 3 ocatve scale
(1) 1 octave scale in 3rds
challenges: training my ear for scales in 3rds

1 hour etudes:
one etude Wohlfahrt Book 1
one etude Wohlfahrt Book 2
one etude Melodious Double Stops
challenges: intonation

30 minutes to 1 hour Suzuki Piece:
Book 4 # 4
challenges: patience

You might wonder, why don't I practice spiccato in an etude and combine some of this? I don't because the spiccato is no fingering and no string changes in my exercise. In a piece I may work on that though, such as Book 4 #3 recently.