Setting a practice routine


Building good practice habits is a journey for the student and parent. I am a firm believer that the parent needs to be involved and supportive for a student to succeed at playing violin.

Practice daily
Imagine if a doctor prescribed for you to take one pill a day of aspirin. It would benefit you much more to take 1 per day rather 6 pills right before seeing the doctor again. Practice once a day (or even twice a day)- that would benefit a student much more.

I stress that there needs to be practicing every day. In order for this to be productive and unstressful, parents and students need to ensure that there is time and energy allotted for practice.

Set a time
I tell students to pick a time – either a specific time or a relative time of day (like after dinner) that is always practice time.

I do not want my students to think of it as a chore. Enjoy meeting and beating a challenge and approach your practice time with a smile rather than grumbling. There will definitely be bad days but generally try to frame practice in a positive light.

Try mornings
The problem of full lives and busy schedules and being too tired at the end of the day (both parents and students) is very real. Some of my students and parents have found early morning practice to be easier when energy and willpower levels are high.

Space is crucial
Having the music stand setting up in a room, with less distraction from electronic devices like tv or computer, will help the students to concentrate when practicing.

Correct mistakes
One trap that students can fall into when practicing one measure repeatedly is that they will just play it with the mistake over and over again. I try to remind them that they need to listen to what is wrong with the measure and fix it before continuing. Work in small and medium chunks, do not only go through the entire piece. Generally, children will need to be encouraged to practice slowly.

Practice Goals
Having a clear practice goal is essential. For example: “Today I need to play the first 1/2 page of my solo piece perfectly.” Another clear cut goal would be to learn to hold the violin in a flat position by the end of the week.

Listen to recordings
A novice needs exposure to good playing, or else he will get very used to a novice sound as being her standard. Listen to the pieces on youtube and play along with the cd. I recommend to do this daily.

Practice after the lesson
I encourage my students to practice the same day at their lesson, right after their lesson.

There is no magic equation. The children that practice during the week, improve much more quickly than the kids that don’t practice regularly. Children that play well tend to enjoy playing more and stand out in group situations. When you can see and hear the improvement, playing the violin becomes fun and not drudgery. As Mark Cuban has said, as you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more and become more passionate about it.

If you have any other practice routine tips and strategies, I would love to see comment below. Best of luck to you!


Posted by Tim Yip

Leave a Reply