How much practice is required?

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My son’s violin teacher, Francine Hamberlin drew a graph that looks a bit like this at our last lesson to illustrate how practice influences the development of a violinist’s skills.  My own teaching practice confirm her findings.

Practice Graph

If a student does not practice or only practices once, skill actually may decrease during a week.  It is hard to remember the techniques discussed in one lesson if they are examined in practice just once.  However, greater than 4 days of practice generally results in improved skills.   That said, if a student regularly practices six or seven times a week, if they go away on vacation for a week without their violin, skills often improve with the week off.  I don’t think that violin technique will continue to improve with further time off, but I’ll get back to you on that after the summer when many students take extra time off from playing!

Of course, there is practice, and there is practice.  If a practice simply means the student gets out their instrument and saws away without regard for technique, then the student is experimenting.  Experimenting is laudable.  And sometimes practice is just about getting into the practice of practicing.  But practice is most helpful when some regard for experimenting with a certain technique is considered.

Technique at the beginning of studying the violin is mostly directed at developing an even posture, with regard to an upright standing position with the knees over the feet, the hips over the knees and the shoulders over the hips. Awareness for even-ness of the sides of the waist and ease with holding the violin is probably the first technique violinists hope to master.  It is a technique that violinists struggle with throughout their study of the violin, but it is at the foundation of playing the violin.  Bowing and fingering with ease are the next steps and affect our study of the first technique, standing with ease.

1 comments on “How much practice is required?”

  1. I love your blog, it is so helpful to me as a Suzuki parent trying to provide the optimal at-home experience to support what my child learns in lessons with you.

    I have noticed, and make sure to point out to my child, that there is a direct correlation between her regular practice and the increased ease and skill in her playing. She is starting to “get it.”

    She has actually said to me, “Thanks, mom, for making violin practice fun and for helping me challenge myself.”

    Liked by 1 person

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