One of the things I've noticed about myself in quarantine is that I have probably about 30 minutes with any given task before I get bored and start thinking about snacks. All my distractions are right there, begging me to stop working...
For now, I think that's totally fine. We all have to give ourselves a break in light of the unusual and sometimes uncomfortable situation in which we find ourselves. What I want most for you, dear violinist, is that you feel like you can tackle your practice to-do’s simply and enjoyably—so you don't get frustrated and end up discarding your practice routine altogether!
In the early days of studying violin, there's so much to be done that it can feel overwhelming. How can you tell which aspect of your playing do you need to work on most? And once you place your focus on one element, why do so many other problem areas seem to crop up?
Don't worry. While the "needs work" list inevitably gets longer, the list of your successes will too!
Try this: Targeting your warm-up time for specific results.
Make the most out of the short stints of practice that might be all you can muster right now! Here are two different warm ups—that anyone can try—that will each get you working on specific skills.
Here's the breakdown:
For agility and accuracy:
String Crossings: Practice bowing back and forth between two adjacent strings at 85 beats per minute.
Double note scale: Any scale, but play each note twice. Aim for each note to match a click of 120 beats per minute.
Skipping rhythm scale: Play that same scale again, but this time with a dotted rhythm.
G Major arpeggio: Play through a G major arpeggio. Arpeggios are scales based on 3 notes: the tonic, the 3rd, the 5th, and a repeat of the tonic (aka Do Mi Sol Do.)
For a full, clean tone:
Bow grip exercises: Build your strength with these bow grip + pinky exercises.
Long bows: Focus on your tone while you play slow, full bows on the open strings.
Legato scale: Play any scale with smooth, connected bows. Listen closely to each note as well as your transitions between bow strokes.
Slurred scale: Play that same scale again, but play two notes with each bow. Pay attention to how much bow you use for each note!
Make the time you have count by practicing these specific skills with intention. Target your weak spots, hone your skills and call it a day if you just feel done. As your virtual violin coach I won't be disappointed, promise.
What else do you need to work on?
Maybe you want to work on your timing? Intonation? Bluegrass licks or Celtic ornaments? Let me know in the comments!