Studio dates, and On Practicing

Studio Dates:

Thank you my wonderful students for another year filled with music, honing techniques and having loads of fun with our instruments.

Please note:

  • We are only closing on the 12th of December.  (No orchestra practice that day.)

If you want to reschedule lessons ahead of time in case you’ll already be on holiday, please arrange this with me as soon as you can.  Otherwise lessons go on as normal until the 12th.  (Keep your children out of boredom during the first part of the holidays! 🙂 )

  • There is a Ceilidh on 5th December.  I’ll patch through the details once everything is finalized.

And lastly:

  • Next year we restart (the studio, not the violin hopefully :-D) on the 11th of January.

 


This brings me to the second part of this blog post.

On Practicing

I know I’ve posted on this before, but let me give you a potentially new angle.

Brain physiology studies show that the way we learn most efficiently, is by playing small bites (2 – 3 seconds) repeatedly (8 – 20 times) slowly and perfectly.

Bit like programming, isn’t it?  Except for the multiple repeats.  Our brain runs a GIGO system (garbage-in, garbage-out) that shall give back exactly what was put in – but only if it is put in consistently, often enough, and exactly the same way.

So, repeat after me:

Practice

  • small phrases (1 or 2 bars)
  • slowly
  • perfectly
  • repeated 20 times without a mistake.

If you simply skim over a piece a few times, all you’ve really done is practice your mistakes, and if you don’t fix them, you can literally practice for a year and the piece will not improve.

It is important to prepare a piece by playing through it without stopping, too:  When you are sight-reading it, or when working on flow, pacing, expression etc.  There is nothing more frustrating to a listener than a player who stops, hesitates and backtracks on his piece every few moments.  You need to be able to play past mistakes.  But you must stay aware of them, and fix them the second you start your in-detail work.

Here is a suggested practicing process:

  • Play the whole piece to get a feeling of the melody etc.
  • Mark the problem areas with pencil.
  • Focus on 1 problem area at a time, do not budge from it until it is good. (Sometimes this takes many days, even weeks, depending how difficult the technique is that that spot requires.  If that one single spot is extraordinarily more difficult than the rest of the piece, discuss this with your teacher – (s)he can give you additional exercises or studies dealing with the new technique.)
    • Remember when working with technique:  You are not only training your brain, but muscles, tendons, motor neurons, reflexes.  There is physical growth involved.  Give your body the time it needs to grow these facilities, just as you would with a sport.  Playing the violin does not only change your brain structure!
  • At the end of the practice session, play through the piece again to retain its musical flow.

Your focus is like a laser.  It can shape, cut and drill things.  Use it properly!

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