Methods for Practicing the Violin
Today, I’d like to share with you four specific methods of practicing the violin. These practice methods can help anyone learn their repertoire with consistent discipline and to learn it a lot quicker and more efficiently.
Sometimes practicing the violin consistently every day can be difficult to maintain. Especially if there is no structure for how to practice. We can’t depend on our inspiration for practicing our violin music simply because we won’t feel inspired every day, all the time. Therefore, we need some structure to keep us on the straight and narrow of daily practice. The discipline of using structures and methods become the cornerstone for any of the musical goals we want to set and accomplish for ourselves.
Three Methods for Practicing the Violin:
Practicing the Violin Through Drilling
The first method is called drilling. Drilling is taking a difficult section of the music you are learning and playing it really slow. Your goal is accuracy here, not speed. You will gradually build up speed eventually but when you do, you will want to maintain and not compromise your accuracy. Never sacrifice your accuracy for speed. When you’re drilling a difficult section, play through it slowly, get all the shifts and fingerings right. Once it is solid and you’re comfortable with it, play it faster.
At times we can let our eagerness to hear the music at full speed get the best of us and practicing patients for our own progress can sometimes be harder than the actual discipline of rehearsal!
Practicing the Violin Through Section Selection
When you’re practicing your repertoire whether it is orchestra, or ensemble music ,or a solo piece, or etude, work on the sections in your music that you’re struggling the most. Play those sections more than what is the easier sections. If you keep playing the easier sections as much or even more than the more challenging sections, the quality of the challenging sections will never rise to be equal with the easier sections and your playing or interpretation of you music will never be smooth or fluid.
Take a measure with difficult sixteenth notes, for example, or a section where the rhythm in your music is tricky or hard and simply work on that spot. If you take that measure of hard sixteenths or arpeggios that are hard to play in tune on the violin, start slowly. Learn it slowly, with good articulation, play through those spots with good fingering, correct rhythms, get used to the shifts and bow strokes, and then gradually increase tempo.
One great method of approach to this would be: every time you pull out your music rarely ever start from the beginning. Instead, go to the sections that are hard, that need work, that need to be fixed. Put some practice time into those and then go and play your music from the beginning!
Note on Articulation
In case someone is unfamiliar with the word articulation, in the violin world, it means you play each note clearly in hammer-like manner. You want clarity in your notes, especially if those are 16th notes or arpeggios. Once that’s solid, gradually increase the tempo until you feel comfortable with that passage at original tempo. Practicing the violin with this method will help you practice your repertoire a lot more efficiently and you’ll begin nailing down hard passages quickly! You just need the patience and effort.
Practicing the Violin with Looping
Looping is playing a measure or a section of your music over and over and over and over and over and over again. As always, start slow with accuracy. Once you’re comfortable with that spot and it’s solid, then you can increase the tempo. Gradually increase the tempo and do so until that spot is clean and consistent and can be played fluidly at its original tempo.
That’s hard work and very time consuming. That’s the life of a violinist, violist, and cellist. It’s hard but this is the only way you’ll nail down hard passages. Just keep looping! There’s no magic. That’s the secret. Just practice. Practice. Practice. Loop it and it will cement into the fingers and brain. Let the brain remember the passage or fingering.
Practice the Violin with Run-Throughs
To do a run-through of your music means playing, or “running”, once through the piece at its original tempo without stopping. This concept is very useful. It allows you to get a clearer picture of what sections of your music are weak and what you need to work on most. Perhaps the fingering in a particular spot in one of the songs isn’t good enough for the original tempo. Once you are able to identify these weaker points in the bigger picture, you’ll be able to address these sections with the first three practice methods to clean them up!
Again, my hope for you is that these four methods will help you put some structure around your violin practice. They will help you make the most of the time you are investing into your instrument and make all the difference of quality to your practice time! The ones I mentioned are only a few and there are many others for you to find and discover out there. Start collecting them because the more diversity of approaches you have, the less boring your practice time will be and the more rounded of a violinist you will be!
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