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Adjusting to longer practice hours


Irene
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I'm a college student, and an intermediate-level violin player I guess-- my current repertoire includes the Beethoven Romance in F, a few movements of unaccompanied Bach, the Mozart Concerto in G. I will be spending my summer on intensive violin study (since I don't want to do anything with my life except play the violin-- I know that it's a long shot, but I'm going to try my best at least, even if it takes another 10 or 20 years). I'm not going to a music camp (as far as I know), but I'll be studying with my teacher and hopefully playing some chamber music too. I wondered if anyone can give me some advice on how to adjust. During the school year I can only practice 1-2 hours a day, but this summer I might spend 5-6 hours daily (well, it could be more, or less, depending on how well I can keep up my concentration).

Can anyone give me some advice about what to do to adjust to this? How to maintain focus? How to avoid injury? I have had wrist problems in the past and I don't want it to come back! Should I try to build up my practice time gradually so that I'm not jumping in all of a sudden, or is it just a matter of practicing intelligently? I have learned to always, always take breaks, at least once every hour or so, and also to practice "smart", not necessarily more. I have already been able to get much better results that way.

I guess what I am looking for are some practical and concrete suggestions, because I think I understand, theoretically, how violin practice should work. In the past when I practiced long hours, my attention and my motivation would often start to die out, especially because I wasn't at a camp with other musicians surrounding me. I might not have that this summer either (didn't have the money to go to camp). I also had a tendency to get too absorbed in other things during my breaks, and then it would be hard to pick up where I left off in my practicing.

What I really long for is to be able to truly enjoy and appreciate playing and practicing, and really making the most out of the time I have-- no dull, mind-and-finger-numbing hours; I can't afford that. I have been learning how to practice better during the past year, and I've been improving faster, but it's hard to really gauge this or know exactly what I'm doing or how to systematize it, since during the school year my practice time always ends up being short and sporadic, and I often have to go into practicing when I'm already tired.

Anyway, any suggestions you can give would be fantastic!

Thanks,

Irene

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Hello Irene,


If I were you I would build the time gradually
up to your desired time. Actually I have heard
that it is not meaniningful to practice
more than four hours a day, and if you have
a risk of injury, I would definitely watch
out and not do more.

Figure out what your best hours are- mornings
or evenings? I like to practice scales, finger
excercises, runs ect. in the morning when I
am really fresh and can concentrate. In the
evening I like to do pieces, sonatas ect,
because I am more relaxed and play more freely.

Actually my opinion is that every person has
a sort of built-in learning limit of how much it
is possible to learn in one day.
That means even if I were to practice
8 hours a day, it doesn't mean that I would
learn twice or three times as much as
if I would only practice two or four hours
a day. I notice that I have reached my
limit when I am tired, can't concentrate
anymore or lose motivation to practice.

YOu should read a book about cognitive
psychology- particularly about learning
and the brain- because that is where it all
takes place. Try to work out the most
effective learning stratagies for you
according to what we know about how the
brain works. It is possible that by practicing
two many skills at the same or too fast
that you actually do more harm than good,
that the memory can't absorb all of these
things, and you forgot more than you retain
by the next day. What a waste of time, then
on is frustrated and even more tense.

I think you can rather than counting hours
set certain concrete goals you want to achieve in the
summertime and aks yourself and your teacher
what is necessary to achieve them
Then you will have more fun seeing your
short term goals being met one after
one than just counting practice hours.

I heard it is good to record your progress
with a diary- write every day what you have
learned, what you have improved on, and what
you want to learn tommorow. Watch it grow
as the summmer goes by.

What do you think, Irene?

Melinda


I'm a college student, and an intermediate-level violin player I guess-- my current repertoire includes the Beethoven Romance in F, a few movements of unaccompanied Bach, the Mozart Concerto in G. I will be spending my summer on intensive violin study (since I don't want to do anything with my life except play the violin-- I know that it's a long shot, but I'm going to try my best at least, even if it takes another 10 or 20 years). I'm not going to a music camp (as far as I know), but I'll be studying with my teacher and hopefully playing some chamber music too. I wondered if anyone can give me some advice on how to adjust. During the school year I can only practice 1-2 hours a day, but this summer I might spend 5-6 hours daily (well, it could be more, or less, depending on how well I can keep up my concentration).

: Can anyone give me some advice about what to do to adjust to this? How to maintain focus? How to avoid injury? I have had wrist problems in the past and I don't want it to come back! Should I try to build up my practice time gradually so that I'm not jumping in all of a sudden, or is it just a matter of practicing intelligently? I have learned to always, always take breaks, at least once every hour or so, and also to practice "smart", not necessarily more. I have already been able to get much better results that way.

: I guess what I am looking for are some practical and concrete suggestions, because I think I understand, theoretically, how violin practice should work. In the past when I practiced long hours, my attention and my motivation would often start to die out, especially because I wasn't at a camp with other musicians surrounding me. I might not have that this summer either (didn't have the money to go to camp). I also had a tendency to get too absorbed in other things during my breaks, and then it would be hard to pick up where I left off in my practicing.

: What I really long for is to be able to truly enjoy and appreciate playing and practicing, and really making the most out of the time I have-- no dull, mind-and-finger-numbing hours; I can't afford that. I have been learning how to practice better during the past year, and I've been improving faster, but it's hard to really gauge this or know exactly what I'm doing or how to systematize it, since during the school year my practice time always ends up being short and sporadic, and I often have to go into practicing when I'm already tired.

: Anyway, any suggestions you can give would be fantastic!

:
: Thanks,
: Irene




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Hi Melinda,

Thank you-- setting a concrete goal sounds like a great idea. I do know that two hours is usually not enough for me, since I have often practiced two hours or more, and found that I had to stop because of time constraints just when I felt like I was "on a roll"-- I was in the middle of really solving a problem and getting it into my fingers. There have been other times when I knew that I had had a great practice session, and I really felt satisfied ready to put the instrument away.

It sounds very much like a matter of "Know thyself", and that trying to *force* one's way through is a harmful way to try to learn the instrument. Practicing long doesn't necessarily give me wrist trouble-- it's practicing with tension that causes me problems.

Could you recommend any cognitive psych titles?

Thanks!

Irene

: Hello Irene,

:

: If I were you I would build the time gradually

: up to your desired time. Actually I have heard

: that it is not meaniningful to practice

: more than four hours a day, and if you have

: a risk of injury, I would definitely watch

: out and not do more.

: Figure out what your best hours are- mornings

: or evenings? I like to practice scales, finger

: excercises, runs ect. in the morning when I

: am really fresh and can concentrate. In the

: evening I like to do pieces, sonatas ect,

: because I am more relaxed and play more freely.

: Actually my opinion is that every person has

: a sort of built-in learning limit of how much it

: is possible to learn in one day.

: That means even if I were to practice

: 8 hours a day, it doesn't mean that I would

: learn twice or three times as much as

: if I would only practice two or four hours

: a day. I notice that I have reached my

: limit when I am tired, can't concentrate

: anymore or lose motivation to practice.

: YOu should read a book about cognitive

: psychology- particularly about learning

: and the brain- because that is where it all

: takes place. Try to work out the most

: effective learning stratagies for you

: according to what we know about how the

: brain works. It is possible that by practicing

: two many skills at the same or too fast

: that you actually do more harm than good,

: that the memory can't absorb all of these

: things, and you forgot more than you retain

: by the next day. What a waste of time, then

: on is frustrated and even more tense.

: I think you can rather than counting hours

: set certain concrete goals you want to achieve in the

: summertime and aks yourself and your teacher

: what is necessary to achieve them

: Then you will have more fun seeing your

: short term goals being met one after

: one than just counting practice hours.

: I heard it is good to record your progress

: with a diary- write every day what you have

: learned, what you have improved on, and what

: you want to learn tommorow. Watch it grow

: as the summmer goes by.

: What do you think, Irene?

: Melinda

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I agree with m.alice. Also, if you build up your practice time gradually, you can avoid the possible injury that suddenly putting in twice or three times as many hours can cause. Also, I think that practicing when you are feeling the most "psyched" or inspired leads to much more progress. Then the hours you spend practicing will be coloured with joy. When you really love playing it and can pour yourself into the violin, miracles happen.

-Michael L.

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