Practicing at home

My wife’s violin teacher, Raphael Spiro, told her the definition of practice is “correct repetition”.  Here is how to make the best use of your time!

– having regular practice times is best
– 100 minutes per week is the goal (unless you can play the assigned music correctly and with a beautiful sound in less time 😉 )
– When you are playing and make a mistake (EVERYBODY DOES!!!), don’t go back to the beginning.  Go back a few notes and play through the notes you had difficulty with until you can play the passage correctly
– Don’t always start at the beginning.  Start by playing the last two measures, then the last four, then the last eight, . . .

(with help from violinist extraordinaire and master teacher, my wife Nancy DiNovo)

The goal of this practice method is to create mastery and confidence in your playing.  At any point, if you move on from one step to the next and find you’re not ready, repeat the previous step before moving forward.

  1. Name the notes – say the letter name of the note out loud
  2. Name the notes in rhythm
  3. Name the notes in rhythm while fingering the notes (even better if you can sing the correct pitches at the same time!)
  4. Play the passage very slowly three times.  Pay attention to what your muscles have to do to make the passage work smoothly and efficiently.  Include all accents and articulations.
  5. Then, play the same passage four times under tempo with full musicality: dynamics and markings as well as musical expression while paying attention to the connections between notes where appropriate.  Strive to improve each one making each repetition more fluent and tonally beautiful than the previous one.
  6. Perform the passage perfectly ten times in tempo.  You will probably notice that after five or six repetitions the passage will start to sound even more fluent.

FYI – apparently the magic number for you to have mastered ANY skill is to do it 17 times in a row without making a mistake.  Yes, numbers 4 through 6 add up to 17!


And, two quotes from Carrie Brownstein, musician, actor, and author
“I found community and belonging through creativity and music”.
And, on being able to do both comedy and music, “I think I wouldn’t have come to comedy and been able to do a lot of improvisation if it weren’t for music.  I think that helped me gain a lot of confidence.  It gave me faith in the spontaneous moment, in the unknown, about going somewhere that could be unexpected where you might fail.”

Keep practicing – you never know where it will lead!