Violinists must be dedicated to their art and devote many hours to practicing scales, exercises, and pieces of challenging music. While practice can be fun and rewarding, it can also be difficult and require dedication and willingness to work hard. In this blog, we’ll discuss four essential practice habits to master the violin and all its elements. One of the greatest violinists of her time, Máiréad Nesbitt is an incredible Classical and Celtic violinist with an amazing ability to combine both forms of music into a unique and extraordinary hybrid. Máiréad has recently released her newest solo album, HIBERNIA, and it’s available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon Music! Download it today and get lost in her ethereal and brilliant music.
Outline and Set Your Goals
Probably the most important thing you can do besides practicing regularly, setting goals and outlining the path to them will help you to practice effectively and reach new levels in your technique. Keep these in plain sight, such as on a whiteboard or taped to your music stand. When you see them every time you pick up your instrument, you’ll be reminded to stay on the path you’ve set for yourself.
When you’re setting your goals, make sure they’re attainable. If they’re too high and out of reach, you’ll feel discouraged and you’ll lose valuable practice time being stressed out and frustrated. Challenge yourself, but not too much. It might even help to schedule a timetable of when you want to hit a certain target, such as a three-, six-, and nine-month plan for your technique. Mention this plan to a teacher or close colleague so you’ll have someone to keep you accountable.
Another way to keep your goals in sight is to watch videos of violinists you admire to help you visualize certain techniques and bowings that you struggle with and would like to improve upon. Spend some time taking notes on their techniques and even research their practice styles so you can follow their success and plans.
Organize Your Practice Space
Many artists say that their messiness and disorganization is directly a result of their creative expression, but keeping your practice space clean and free of distractions will help keep your mind focused on your technique. Get rid of junk, old music, and trash and give the space a good cleaning. If you’re able, paint the walls a relaxing color, hang inspiring photos or art, and add some decor that you enjoy. Rugs will add softness to a stark room, and you can even put a comfy chair in the room for breaks or relaxation. Keep electronics to a minimum, and even make the space cellphone-free so that you won’t be bothered by phone calls or text messages. Treat it like your own personal musical haven so that when you shut the door, you’re alone with your violin and can complete your goals for the day without getting distracted or disturbed by other people or tasks.
Choose Your Practice Times
Some violinists complete their best work while burning the midnight oil, while others work best as the sun is rising. Think about the times you work best, and schedule your day around them. You might even find that you work best if you break up your practicing into several small time increments. Whatever you’ve discovered about yourself and the way that you work most efficiently, try to make your day reflect that so you’re doing your best work with optimal expertise.
Identify and Solve Problems
It can be difficult to look at your technique and practicing results without bias, but teaching yourself to identify problems that you struggle with and devise a way to solve them will allow you to grow on your own without having to constantly require an instructor’s thoughts and advice. If you struggle the most with maintaining a steady tempo, use your metronome and slow down all of your songs you can learn them with care and re-train your fingers and bow arm to learn the right notes and correct execution. This is the only way to truly grow, and evaluating yourself from as unbiased as a perspective as possible will allow you to see your weaknesses and improve upon then.
Practice truly makes perfect, and when you’re learning complicated music and techniques, making daily violin practice is vital to your success. Whether you’re a professional violinist or simply enjoy playing the instrument for your own pleasure, employing these tips will increase your growth and potential as a violinist. For the times when you want to enjoy a true virtuoso’s work, listen to Máiréad Nesbitt’s newest album, HIBERNIA. Full of swelling melodies and awe-inspiring talent, Máiréad’s beautiful creation will be a favorite album for years to come. Purchase on iTunes and Amazon Music today!