Having a structure for your violin practice is essential, and using these tips and techniques will help you make the most of your playing time. Try these six tips to improve your playing:
Performing music fluently requires practice, so by spending time developing our muscle memory, it improves our familiarity with the music. It also helps our sight-reading abilities.
Breaking the music down into smaller, bite-sized pieces and isolating the moving parts, gives you a better ability to concentrate and work on just one part at a time. It also provides you more insight into which specific components are trickier to play, so you can focus on strengthening that muscle memory.
Going more slowly throughout each section, especially when you begin a new piece, is a technique that ensures you take the time to feel each movement. Solving issues and going through parts one at a time paves the way for enhanced growth and development in your playing.
Using a metronome in your practice is a really useful way of keeping the timing accurate and ensures your playing doesn’t become uneven.
It helps you concentrate more fully on the playing aspect without worrying about keeping time, since that’s automatically done. It keeps you from veering off-tempo and avoids timing errors, but also helps you learn tricky passages at a slower pace before building up the tempo.
You can purchase a metronome, but you can just as easily download a free app with a metronome to keep the beat for your practice.
As you build your skills, discipline needs to be at the forefront of your bowing patterns. Adding complexity to your movements puts more demand on your capabilities, and work harder at your training.
An excellent example of varying your bowing patterns is by playing scales. Play the notes of the scale in a dotted rhythm, and change your bow every three notes for variation. Introduce these types of variations when you practice to challenge yourself and see how far you can take your muscle memory and strengthen your skills.
When you record your practice sessions, you can listen to them afterward and more accurately pinpoint areas of trouble. The recording also lets you know how well you’re able to play fluently and if you’re up to speed on your piece.
Using a mirror provides insight when you’re playing if you’re using the correct posture, holding your bow properly, and how you’re keeping your body. Position yourself so you can monitor your bowing, rotating your body to the left at an angle to assess if your bow angle is correct quickly.
Once you have identified the sections you need to work on, breaking each part down is the first step to helping you concentrate bit by bit. Then, repetition is a great technique to work on a tricky part of your movement or musical piece.
If you’re able, listen to the piece being played by someone correctly over and over, to get it ingrained in your head so that you can work on mimicking the same patterns, rhythms, and sounds. Repeating the process one part at a time will help ensure you’ve mastered it.
It may seem obvious, but one of the most crucial parts of learning to play the violin is ensuring it works well and is in tune for each practice. Keep your instrument in its case when you’re not playing, and remember to loosen your bow before your put it away.
Wipe down the instrument with a cloth each time you practice so that you remove any extra dust or rosin that may have come off of the bow. Don’t leave your violin out of the case or in a cold or hot climate - you want to keep it in a cool, dry, and dark place for safekeeping.
Find out more about how to care for and clean your instrument HERE.
Practice and Stay Consistent
You know the expression “practice makes perfect,” and it couldn’t be more accurate when playing and learning a musical instrument. Practicing a little each day will mean your violin lesson will be more satisfying over all.
If you feel frustrated or overwhelmed with a particular piece of music; taking breaks when you need them is okay. You should give yourself time to process the work and figure out ways to keep yourself engaged with playing the music. Give yourself the time to rest and recover, assess what’s got you feeling that way, and then work to fix it. Playing should be enjoyable, and that includes your practice sessions.
Make playing the violin part of your everyday routine and use these tips and techniques so that you’re sure to adjust your playing and get the most out of every practice session. You’ll see yourself progress and impress yourself with how far you’ve come.