How to Practice

    1. The practice routine (should be kept flexible)
      1. Stretch: 1-2 minutes
      2. Warm-up exercises, technique (scales, arpeggios, drills): 20-30% of your practice time
      3. Studies, chamber music, orchestra repertory: 30-40% of your practice time
      4. Pieces, concerti, sonatas: 30-40% of your practice time
    1. Practice stages
      1. Develop and maintain your technique (always in a musical context) – this is a component of all practice routines.
      2. Read new material, decide on fingerings, bowings. Should be dome as close to tempo as possible, even if playing is not accurate. Should not take longer than 1-2 practice sessions for new material.
      3. Repeat the patterns you established. Spend time on those that give you more trouble.
      4. Practice the act of performance. Practice the memorization. Let go of your inhibitions, take chances, be creative, go for it.
    1. Practice Hints
      1. Practice regularly – consistency is more important than a lot of practice at random intervals
      2. Be disciplined – go through your routine, no matter how little you practice
      3. Set goals – work on specific issues, or specific passages
      4. Think- apply your mind to what you are doing. Practice thinking patterns, not finger patterns
      5. When you start, set time limits. “I’ll practice today for 2 hours.”
      6. Take breaks. Take a break at least every 50-60 minutes.
      7. Practice slowly. For some passages, one must play slowly up to 80 % of the spent.
      8. If it hurts, stop. Make changes.
    1. Practice techniques for studies and repertory
      1. Play once through the whole piece or a large section. Evaluate what went well and what needs practice.
      2. Go back to the beginning. Repeat trouble spots: a passage, a measure, a shift, a chord, an arpeggio, a sustained bow, a long breath, etc. This is like brain surgery and certainly very tedious.
      3. Put the detail (the passage.) in its context. Play it starting 1-2 measures before and plus 1-2 after. Evaluate. Whether the passage is solved or not, go on, but remember it. Come back to it the following practice session.
      4. Cover as many details as possible.
      5. Play again through the whole piece (or section). PERFORM IT.
    1. Some practice tricks
      1. practice passages with various rhythms
      2. practice passages on different strings or in different registers
      3. practice from very slow to very fast (using the metronome)
      4. practice in the dark
      5. record yourself and listen
      6. for strings or piano, some passages can be played as double stops or as chords
      7. invent your own variations


  1. The Daily Practice Chart (as I see it)
    Age If you want
    to be OK
    If you want
    to be good
    If you want
    to be great
    6-10 yo 20 minutes 1 hour 2 hours
    10-14 yo 45 minutes 1 + hours 3 hours
    14-18 yo 1 hour 2 hours 4+ hours

    If you have unbelievable talent, you can reduce the time by half.
    If you don’t get it very easily, double the time.

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