May 30, 2009

Practice-time Conditions and Distractions

Posted in Violin Practice at 10:38 pm by theviolincase

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this week it is that I don’t need ideal conditions in order to practice. As a teenager, I hated to practice where others could hear, had to have the right lighting, had to have silence, etc. Now I’m a wife and mother of 3 (2 are teenagers).  There are endless distractions if I choose to listen to them. I’ve listed my most common distractions here to help me find ways around them:

1. Not enough time, “I can’t practice because I only have 30 minutes.” I struggle with this because I know once I get started I will want to keep going.  BUT if I never start I will be right back where I was with hands that don’t work.  So once or twice this week I practiced knowing I would only have 30 minutes and that was it.  I spent that time on scales, arpeggios and double stops because I believe that is the best way to get stronger more accurate hands.

2. Too much noise or distraction. This used to be my number 1 pet peeve. I’ve decided that there will never be no distractions, so I’ve been practicing with the downstairs TV on, the phone ringing, the kids coming and going, doorbell ringing . . . you know how that goes.  I’m getting better at ignoring it all and working on my scales.

3. I don’t want people listening to my practice time. How many people are distracted by this? Do you care if there are people in the other room listening? Or is this just me being strange? As a younger person I really let this get in my way. This time around I have decided it is really good for the kids to hear me go over and over things to get them right.  They all 3 have instruments that they work on, and I want to set a good example for them.  However, next week my father-in-law will be here, and I really don’t know if I can practice with him listening.  Scales and arpeggios just don’t sound all that great, and I’m still working on getting them right.  I’ve been adding the 3rds, 6ths, and octaves too, and they can sound pretty frightening when I get them wrong!

4. I’m not looking forward to sore hands. This is a new distraction for me. My hands didn’t get sore when I practiced as a young person.  Well, they got sore right after a good workout, but these days they STAY sore for days!  In my previous post I mentioned icing, and that is working wonders.  If I ice after practice time, my hands are only briefly sore. And as I get more practice time under my belt, the soreness is going away in general. So hopefully this will be a short-lived distraction.

5. I keep thinking of all the other things I should be doing. The grass is always greener on the other side! If I’m practicing I think I should be working on the website, if I’m on the website I think I should be doing dishes, and on and on. I am working on making a conscious effort to just be in the moment, and work on one thing at a time. My practice time is still an only an hour or less, so it’s not like it’s taking all day!  When I work up to a few hours at a time, then I might have reason to wonder which thing I should be doing. Right now I really do have time to do it all with a little advance planning.

I would love to hear your suggestions and experiences in your own practice sessions.  How have you overcome your distractions?


1 Comment »

  1. Leslie said,

    Thanks a lot for your suggestions! I have 5 kids who all play music and I handle practice time by setting a short time frame for practicing such as 30 min. for my 10 y.o. and 15 min. for my 8 y.o. This way they maintain a great attitude about it and the plus side is we always go over by just a bit but the main thing is that the mind set is right for practicing no matter what the time frame is, so more is accomplished!

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