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how do you practice when you're not feeling like it?


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There are times, where I felt like not practicing at all (and this hinders my practicing in so many ways). Maybe because I work full time and do a lot things besides practicing (going to school). I usually practice on average an hour a day (I am not a professional player). It also feels like doing the same thing everyday (same routine). Do you guys have some advice? what do you guys think of giving a day or two off and how will you go about it? maybe I am feeling burned out?

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I work full time, really bad hours, but I love practicing,so I dont have your problem.  If for some reason I didnt want to practice, I simply wouldnt, for me it would be turning it into a job of work rather than a pleasure, which for me it is.

Why not have some days when you just play any tunes you want, without worrying about having to practice, try different styles, like trad, or Blues..

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22 hours ago, nimrak said:

There are times, where I felt like not practicing at all 

I remember an saying from one of the old violinist of yesteryear - one day of not practicing I'll know, two days of not practicing my friends will know and three days of not practicing everyone will know.

Just jump into your studies somewhere and find something that needs work and start there.  If it only last five minutes, oh well.  Otoh, it could lead to a three hour practice/playing session that day too.

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The devil is in the details.  What is your current routine?  What are your goals?  Are you studying with a teacher?  

I'll listen to my favorite violinists for inspiration.  Sometimes I pick a piece I want to learn, and don't look for the music for it.  Learning by ear and doing transcriptions always get me excited to practice.  

I'm also a trumpet player, and it's common even for accomplished trumpet players to take an occasional rest day.  Violin playing is not as physical as trumpet playing, but I think the principle applies to everything with muscle-memory.  You may even learn faster if you give yourself a day off.  

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7 hours ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

What is your current routine?  What are your goals?  Are you studying with a teacher?  

Exactly.

What are your goals?  You state you are not a professional.  What is the purpose of your practicing?

I am not a professional by any stretch of the imagination.  I teach a few beginners.  I play in a community orchestra.  I work full-time in a non-music related field.  I raise two young children and two dogs.  I used to practice for the sake of keeping limber.  So I would play some scales and isolated parts of orchestral works that my symphony was performing.  

Recently, I decided, not sure why, to plan a recital.  I picked 6 pieces.  Two of which I already knew and performed. During Covid, I found the time to practice about 90 minutes to 3 hours a day.  

Then, I would have days that I was not motivated.  So...I took a couple of days off.  Muscle memory is funny.  You don't easily lose the basics, but after some time off, that one passage that you were working up to speed might be hindered from time off.  I still suggest taking time off here and there.

As for inspiration to practice, I tend to play pieces that have similar techniques.  So, for example, I recently (about 3 weeks ago) decided to learn Praeludium and Allegro.  It has some double stop and barriolage passages.  Yesterday, I decided I needed a break from the piece and didn;t even practice one scale.  This morning, I was still not feeling the motivation to practice the piece.  So, I turned to the Bach e maj partita preludio, you know the one with all of those stupid open e's?  Its a fun piece.  I practiced that to maintain some of the barriolage stuff I was working on with the Praeludium and Allegro.  I also decided to dig up the third mvt of the Bruch vln cto for double stop refreshers.  All in all, I just had fun.

If you continue to lose interest, you need to ask yourself why?  Is it a particular passage that you can't seem to figure out?  Do you not like the piece?  I remember I hated the Accolay a min cto as a student.  I played it poorly.  At the time, there were very few recordings of it to listen to.  Now a days, you can find tons of youtubes.  I use these other recordings to give me inspiration.  

If music is a hobby, treat it that way.  If you aren't having fun, you need to figure out why and either push through, or take a break.

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Taking time off after long periods of regular practice can be extremely beneficial.  Whether it's a day, a week, a month, or a year, you will learn something when you come back to the instrument that you wouldn't have learned.

Obviously, this is not for people preparing something specific, but it is almost universally known that time off is good for your playing.  This only applies to people whose habit is regular practice, year in and year out.  In general, regular practice is better than time off.  The rare, occasional, time off is what I'm talking about.

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I got the second COVID shot last week, and I felt like hell for several days. I didn't practice at all a couple of days, but on other days, I at least did some open string bowing, or played around with stuff that I like, rather than doing actual planned practice (and I've been planning my practice week on Sundays for a few weeks, now, which I find I really find useful).

I practice in the mornings, before work, because if I don't do it then, I'm likely to not have time or inclination to pick up my instrument in the evening. My SO likes to watch TV at night, so it's more frequently that I don't have time in the evening.

If I'm not feeling it, I'll "eat my vegetables" and at least tune and do open strings and work on one scale. By the time I've done that, if I'm still not feeling it, I'll quit for the day, but usually I'll keep going. If you just tell yourself you're only going to tune your violin and do something for five minutes, then stop, then at least you've touched your violin, and if you do feel like stopping after that, then you've "earned" it. If you feel like continuing, you can still continue.

For me, I feel like I need to at least tune and bow open strings every single day, so I keep the habit going. If I get at least that far, I'll give myself a pass for the rest of the day, and I can manage even that unless I have a bad migraine or am really sick.

Now towards the end of this month, I will be out of town for a week and a half, and will not be able to bring my violin with me, but I will probably still do some sort of ear training every day, with an app or three.

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I've hit similar roadblocks with practice, and my goto for the last few years is to hit Youtube tutorials.  Nicola Benedetti, Daniel Kurganov, Augustin Hadelich, various masterclasses, and other finds have been very helpful.  I always locate something that inspires me to practice!  Maybe a bowing suggestion for better tone production, or a way to improve vibrato, or some study for finger independence.  So far this has never failed to push me forward when my interest is flagging.  

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I just show up.  I don't think about whether or not I will pick it up, I go pick it up.  I allow no options on that.  I play twenty minutes of music I like.  If I'm tired or have something else to deal with... I let it slide.  But, almost always I'm lost in it within five minutes.  Then I get into Bach, and I'm gone. 

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I practice daily, sometimes it’s just playing super easy music, sometimes it’s working on the etudes I’m doing with my teacher, and often it’s a mix.

I also enjoy just playing randomly, finding a few notes that seem to go together, messing around with different techniques, and improvising a bit.  I’m not very good, but after four plus years I’ve developed a bit of an ear for doing this.

 This is a hobby for me, but I enjoy putting in the effort.

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There are many strategies and could write a book about it.

From a neuro- muscular stand point, one must do it if one is on the fringes of 4+ sharps or flats. If one is working on difficult pieces, this ( the scale among other etudes ) is necessary.

Having reassured the need to pick up the instrument... I watch morning news or listen to Chick Corea or cook while practicing. If one gets it out of the way, even for 5 minutes, that was some practice. From age 14 to my late 20s, I never missed a day of playing, and mostly for 2+ hours. The vioiin, traveled with me everywhere. I made efforts to take care of that plywood case, as it took care of my instrument. When checking into hotels, the isolated room was booked. If one was not available, hotels were switched.   

I have a music stand in every room and several in the garage. An opportunity to practice is a luxury. Backstage, others do not approach as it is a time for deep focus. If you practice for 2 minutes, the degree of focus must be great. And it takes 30 seconds to achieve focus. Arpeggios and scales are the basics. The carbos of pieces, and the tension points and bowing the protein. Makes sure both left side and right sides are practiced. 2 minutes of practice is significantly more important that not playing at all.   

If one feels guilty of not playing, then do not feel guilty. Just play. Do I need to create an app that will berate you into practicing? Do it well for 5 minutes and one is done.

I associate practice with salad. When I am eating salad, I visualize practice. When practicing, I think of salad with a light red wine vinegar and lemon or mandarin oranges to bridge the arugula.

 

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Currently, I can hear significant deterioration in my own playing. Ensemble practice is with only one group and distanced performances are few. But I do take my instruments outdoors and to churches and play in their courtyards or alcoves.

I still try to learn literature. I do need to re-learn the 3rd mvmt of the Barber violin to play fast.

Speed, response, ear training, and locating the "center" of the vibrato has been more and more difficult since the new year. I do need to start recording myself playing far more difficult pieces and re- working my hands. Different parts of my brain have not been stimulated for a long time. Pre- performance rituals have not been practiced. 

My practice is necessary everyday, but the focus, effort and the other intangibles are a bit lost. 

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