Think you don’t have enough time to practice violin? Think again! We all have days where we’re short on time, but that doesn’t mean you should skip practice altogether. Here, Austin, TX violin instructor Naomi Cherie S. shows you how to get an effective violin practice session in only 15 minutes…
We’ve all heard it before: “Practice makes perfect!” However, an intelligent five-year-old violin student improved this saying when she told me “Practice makes better!” It’s a nice reminder that while perfection is something we should always strive for, it’s important to be patient and remember that we’re only human.
How you practice is just as important as how much you practice. In this article I will outline the perfect 15-minute violin practice, and also break down important components for any practice that will help you improve.
Good Practice Habits
As a violinist, practice is essential to develop your skills, and it can determine how quickly you will progress on the instrument. Practice can also be one of the biggest challenges we face in our studies.
With the fast paced lifestyles most of us live today, it can be hard to fit in time to practice consistently. For beginners, I recommend that you practice at least five days per week for 30 minutes to an hour at a time.
Building Your Practice
In music (similar to athletic training), it’s a good idea to gradually increase your practice session length while you’re developing muscles, flexibility, finger callouses etc. so that you don’t overdo it and end up with sore hands, wrists or arms.
Aim to work up to one to two hours (or more) of practice per day. The more you practice, the faster you will improve!
Consistency is Key
Remember, it’s important to maintain consistency over time spent (quality over quantity).
For instance, I’d rather you practice for five days a week, even if you could only play for 15-30 minutes on some days, than waiting until the last day before your lesson to do an extra long practice session.
Our brains need time to process what we practice, and repetition is key to perfect your skills. Sometimes, even when you don’t feel like you’re improving during a practice session, you will start to see progress over time, if you keep at it and look at the big picture.
Think of your violin journey as plants in a garden: you can’t see them growing, but eventually, with love and care, they blossom and reach new heights.
The Perfect 15-Minute Violin Practice Session
As a beginner, it’s crucial to keep your momentum going and avoid skipping more than a day or two of practice. For the first several months, your budding skills are very delicate. Without consistency, you can easily backtrack, and you’ll have to re-learn certain concepts if you go too long without practice.
This is where the 15-minute practice session comes in. It can take a lot of self-discipline to practice daily, and with busy work and school schedules, sometimes it just doesn’t seem feasible.
This session is perfect for those days when you’re on the go and just don’t think you have time to practice. Think about what squeezing in 15 minutes of one-on-one time with your violin can do to boost your playing and bridge the gap between longer playing sessions!
Here are the basic goals of this 15- minute session:
- Tuning – Tuning is a great way to warm up your ears and “fine tune” your ear training skills. It’s also imperative to have your violin tuned up and ready to go each time you play. You can tune by ear with a keyboard/piano or a pitch pipe or you can use an electronic tuner or a tuning app.
- Abridged Scale Warm Up – In this video, I demonstrate a really thorough scale warm up. For your abridged scale warm up, you can skip a couple of the exercises and just stick to the basics. Using your G Major scale, start with half notes, then play quarter notes and eighth notes.
- Song Warm Up – Next, choose a song you’ve been working on or have been wanting to learn. Start from the top of the piece and work your way through. Try to move quickly, without stopping to fix mistakes, and play through to the end of the piece while taking mental notes of your problem areas.
- Go Back and Fix Mistakes – Take a pencil and write in some notes. Add parenthesis around your problem measures. Pencil in “x5” above the measures that really need some work and then go back and play those spots five times in a row (or more) until they sound smooth.
- Take the Song From the Top – Once you feel comfortable about your problem areas, go back and run the piece from start to finish. By this time, your 15 minutes will probably be up, but if you have some extra time, go ahead and go through the piece again, constantly taking notes of your improvements as well as sections that still need work.
And that’s it! Remember, when it comes to your musical journey, every little bit helps and it’s important to remember that a short practice is better than no practice at all!
Ready to get started playing violin? Find a violin teacher near you!