Violin Tip of the Day
For Violin Students of All Ages
Practice and Rehearsal Tips.  Technique Pointers.  Violin Care Guidance. Exercises and Motivation for Violinists, Fiddlers or Anyone Interested in Stringed Instruments.
Today's Tip
I don't know about you or your violinist, but I frequently wanted to practice my violin as little as possible.  And I wanted to do that practice with the least effort possible!

One of the things that I did was to practice without putting in much effort.  I played the violin, but I practiced things that I was so proficient at that I didn't even need to think about my playing.  One book I read refers to this as "polishing shiny objects."  I could polish shiny objects every day, but when it came time to play for my teacher at my next lesson, there wasn't much progress to show.

Playing pieces at which you are proficient is useful to maintain skills and confidence, but you need to do some hard things so that you stretch yourself a little bit between lessons. That's the way we learn to do anything.

And how to get your violinist to do that?  Several people I know say that the teacher or parent should not emphasize time as much as progress.

"What I need you to do today is play the first 15 measures of the etude perfectly.  I don't care how long it takes, but when you've got those 15 measures down you can quit.  If you can do it in 5 minutes, that's good enough for me!"

Honestly, I don't completely agree with the idea.  I think that there needs to be a reasonable goal set.  I also think that there should be a minimum time set.  "We normally practice for 30 minutes, but if you can play the first five measures of the etude perfectly after 20 minutes we'll call it a day!"

The other key is that if the goal set has proved to be unreachable today, quit after a reasonable amount of time.  A person can only stay in the "teachable moment" for so long!  "You know, we normally practice for 30 minutes, and we agreed that you could stop when you got those first five measures down.  You've been working really hard for the last 45 minutes.  If you want to quit, it's okay with me . . . good work!"  Who knows, the student may actually insist on working another 10 minutes . . . especially if he was involved in setting the goal!

Try practicing to achieve progress rather than practicing to fulfill a time quota!  Even if you don't do it every day, it shakes up the routine a little, and might just improve your violinist's performance!
Practice Revolution
"Polishing Shiny Objects" is one of the practices warned against in Philip Johnston's book.  An interesting look at how we practice musical instruments!  This is a Good Read!
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