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Dr. Paula Bird, part 11: Practice Tip - Make a Plan

15 Responses
Posted: January 19, 2010
Last Comment: February 5, 2018

Inge Black
Posted: February 5, 2018
Beth, I was delighted by your first video where you were sketching out some key ideas.  You also said you were working on a project around that. When I stopped violin lessons and violin, I first sought out "how to practice / toward what" and similar things which is when I met up with my piano-plus teacher some years ago.  Some things I learned were powerful, and I had not seen them mentioned before. You touched on several of them, which is why I was delighted, as well as adding others.
The "backward practice" you mentioned is a strong one, because then you are always practising toward what is known and strong, rather then from the new, to the newer.  Focusing on a single simple thing, then another, and maybe in a smaller section, I think was another.  The practice course project should be awesome when it is done.  I know when my teacher first mentioned some of those things, they only became real later as we started working with them - when it gets fleshed out.

Posted: February 3, 2018
Great practice Chart
This thread was very helpful on practice. Great chart here!
Essentially after warming up, 1/2 on teacher assigned scales and etudes, and exercises to help the student's particular area of challenge or strengthening. 1/2 on repertoire. The repertoire would be 1/4 polish (performing), 1/2 current, 1/4 new (sight reading).

Vayia UK
Posted: January 31, 2018
Either from or from Google ebooks (I went for the second option) 

Posted: January 31, 2018
Thank you, Beth!

Posted: January 31, 2018
I know how you feel Theresa. I know there are lots of places where I need to improve and choosing which ones to concentrate on and for how long can be a bit difficult. I made up multiple blank practice sheets where I can fill in the blanks for each practice session. The list can change for whatever piece of music I'm on at the time and the lesson that is supposed to be learned. Here is an example:

Warm-Ups (this changes from time to time but not too often for me)

1. 2-3 minutes of finger exercise (pg 34 Suzuki book 1, and scales D, F, G Majors)

2. Straight, full, slow, bows (up/down) on all strings 3-5 minutes

Problem Areas

1. square fingers while practicing lifting and speed, fingers one at a time (try to keep index finger from pointing straight up) 5 minutes

2. clean string crossings, mix it up 2 - 3 minutes

3. [current song] Problem passages, slow, after correct- repeat four times in a row 

Next Practice (any problems in this practice and where I want to go next time)


I just fill out the sheet at the end of each practice session. It will usually change a little each time. There are also times where I'm not following the sheet but I don't consider them sessions, like when I'm kicked back watching tv, I'll do finger stretch exercises on and off the violin- there is a really good page in "Resources" 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 31, 2018
I'll try and contact the author. I think he's a Face Book friend. He wrote to me a few years ago to just say Hi. I'm sure I can find him. I'll let you know what find out.

Posted: January 31, 2018
I already searched for this book, wanted to order it but I received ‘not available’...
Where can I order this book?

Vayia UK
Posted: January 30, 2018
Please do tell us what you think about the book! 

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 30, 2018
Oh wow! I went to grad school here in Austin with Benjamin. He was a super nice guy - and very smart. I just ordered the book!

Vayia UK
Posted: January 29, 2018
I have found this book very useful on how and what to practise:

The Advancing Violinist's Handbook: A Guide to Practicing and Playing the Violin, by Benjamin Whitcomb

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 28, 2018
This discussion includes members-only video content

Posted: January 28, 2018
Hi Theresa, hopefully you are on your way to making a practice plan. I just wanted to add that switching up practice to many areas in one session, rather than just working on one thing for instance, is a good idea. Even with 30 minutes, you could hit three areas for instance. I try to add in areas that I know need the most work. Good luck.

Ted Adachi
Posted: January 27, 2018
I think it would help if we had a little more information.

Right now, what do you practice when you practice?

Are you playing from the Suzuki books?

What pieces can you play?

How much time daily do you for practice?

Are you trying to learn the basics of playing or are you looking to refine an already solid base?

Elke Meier
Posted: January 27, 2018
Theresa, check out the Resources tab. There is a section with the Syllabus and some practice helps. If you follow the syllabus you will watch the videos in the right order and hopefully fill in the holes that you perceive in your playing and practicing. One of the first ones is about practicing.

Theresa Ellington
Posted: January 27, 2018
practice tip,, make a plan
Please, Please, Please somebody help.  Adult learner,  1 1/2 years and still somewhat clueless as to how to practice. Everyone says "mindful practice", but what to do, how many minutes on each?  I need a written plan not makeup as you go. If i have 30, 45, or 60 minutes what should i be doing, for how long and in what order. How to gauge progress at 6, 12, 18, 24 months. warm ups, what should i be doing? thank you for responses.