© 2005, 2006, 2007 by Raphael Klayman

III – Some Practice Tips

  1. Periodically review the preceding material prior to practicing.

  2. Also pay due attention to any personalized directives or reminders.

  3. Begin with the stretching exercises that will have been shown to you. Then go to the violin and work in the order shown to you.

  4. Try to achieve and maintain the best form and posture that you can at all times.

  5. Try to stay as relaxed and loose as you can at all times. Take short breathers as necessary.

  6. Practice mindfully: Always try your best to play with the best sound and intonation that you're capable of. To the best of your ability and awareness, make sure you're playing the right notes, rhythm, dynamics, etc. When playing something that seems to focus on the left hand, do not neglect awareness of the right hand and vice versa.

  7. Spend more time on difficult sections. Sometimes it might be a short phrase. Sometimes it might be just two notes – especially if a shift or string-crossing is involved. Practice slowly, and gradually work up to tempo. Go backwards and forwards. Practice tricky sections of notes of equal value in dotted and reverse – dotted rhythm. After spending time on small, isolated sections, begin to incorporate more notes and phrases from both before and after the small section, and put it back in context.

  8. Try to become aware of what you're doing right as well as what you're doing wrong. We're trained to try to be aware of flaws in say, our intonation, any bumpy shifting and string-crossing, etc. – and rightly so. But imagine a situation in which you're having trouble with a particular technique or passage. Maybe it's a virtuosic run, or a tricky bowing technique. Let's say that more often than not, it misses – but sometimes it clicks. When it succeeds, you must have done something different – perhaps something very subtle, but significant. Try to figure out what you did differently when it worked. If you can do that, you will become more consistent at replicating it.

  9. Particularly for advanced and professional players who may have frequent performances and rehearsals, spend a preponderance of time not only practicing under tempo, but also at less than full intensity. Work up to full intensity, like with tempo, gradually, and only when you are fully warmed up. In much of your practice, back off from full forte and intense vibrato. Save most of your strength and energy for your rehearsals, and performances.

  10. All angle changes noted above, for both hands, should at least eventually, be smooth, seamless, and not obvious or exaggerated.

  11. At first it may seem almost impossible to keep in mind and do all the various things asked of you. This is normal. Do not feel frustrated. Eventually many basics will become second nature and will need less constant attention. At the same time, many seasoned professionals give daily thought to and keep a conscious awareness of many fundamentals. There is a time and place for a more gestalt consciousness, in which we function more in organic wholes, and transcend the sum of the parts. But the parts need to be properly in place, before they can be transcended.

  12. As important as proper technique is, it is only a means to an end. That end is making music in as good and unhindered a way as possible. Work carefully. Stick with it. And always be open to music's profound rewards.

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Updated Feb 9, 2012 [email protected]