SPRING FEVER IN THE PRACTICE ROOM! Effective Violin Practice (Part 1)

Posted by Elizabeth Devereux

Our clocks have sprung forward, the Philly cherry blossoms are beginning to spring up as well, birds are springing into song, soon spring will be fully upon us, and, if you’re anything like me, your focus might spring to the outdoors as well.  Even as you try to play that passage a few clicks faster with the metronome–LOOK AT THAT COOL BIRD’S NEST OUTSIDE THE WINDOW!–even as you attempt to hit that high note 10 times in a row to make sure you’ve learned that shift thoroughly–WOW, THE SUN’S SHINING, THE SKY’S BLUE, THAT BREEZE THROUGH THE WINDOW FEELS LIKE IT’S A SPLENDID 75 DEGREES OUTSIDE!–…and as you try to cling to the adage that

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT,

you can’t help but notice the IMPERFECTIONS that keep springing to your ears as you play. It’s almost as if the more times you play a passage, the worse it gets.

My professional diagnosis?  A true case of SPRING FEVER! With a side of POOR PRACTICE-ITIS!

Even non-musicians know the symptoms: we’re reading and we suddenly realize that we’ve been re-reading the same paragraph for several minutes without processing ANY of the information in the paragraph.  We’ve ZONED OUT, gone on auto-pilot: our eyes still scan the page, our brains may even register the meaning of individual words.  However, we fail to comprehend the meaning of the passage as a whole.

Now, re-reading a paragraph over and over wouldn’t be a problem if we all led lives of leisure, but few of us do!!!  We’re busy people (everyone seems to be busy these days), and when we zone out as we work, study, read, or practice, we end up wasting valuable time.

Sound familiar?

If so, you should read this TIME article by Annie Murphy Paul:

The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’

What do you think of it?  What strikes a chord (pun unashamedly intended) for you in the article, if anything?  Do you believe it?  Does it shatter any of your expectations?  Are you willing to change anything in your own practice/hobby/work based on the article’s assertion?

One of the lines I found most important was:

“It was not the case that the top-ranked pianists made fewer errors at the beginning of their practice sessions than did the other pianists,” Duke notes. “But, when errors occurred, the top-ranked pianists seemed much better able to correct them in ways that precluded their recurrence.”

It can be exhausting to focus on our weaknesses and errors.  But, WOW, is it rewarding to trust that you have the power to fix problems on your own in such a way that you don’t make the same mistake twice!

Do you have the courage and commitment–even with beautiful spring calling outside!–to attempt some DELIBERATE PRACTICE?

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