First, here’s something you can use right away to effectively practice violin when you’re feeling unmotivated.
Cue up this video, follow my prompts, and play along. It starts out easy, and gradually progresses in difficulty.
"If you sound good, you're probably not practicing"
My beloved violin teacher Michael Davis told me, “If you sound good, you’re probably not practicing”.
He meant that practice is for working out the kinks. If you sound good, call it “playing” instead of practicing.
I get his meaning, and yet I’ve been wondering if the opposite can somehow also be true …
Are there times when practice can sound good?
Is it possible to feel better when you practice?
Yoga and Violin Practice: A Surprising Link Between Mind, Body, and Music
I think we can feel good when we effectively practice violin, and sound good too.
Compare practicing violin to practicing Yoga:
- it can involve simple forms
- we can ground and center in the expression of these forms
- we can accept ourselves at the moment where we are…everything about our sound, intonation, rhythm, compositional ideas…noticing whatever there is to notice..recognizing that music is infinite, we are in a state of change, and everything is perfect right now
One thing I noticed about practicing Yoga is that, although it was difficult at first, over time I felt better the moment I start a Yoga session. I relax and almost instantly sink into a meditative state. Granted, it still involves work, but it felt restorative and like it was building peace, quiet, strength, and confidence.
I did not always feel this way practicing. Practicing mostly felt hard, overwhelming, challenging, frustrating.
This is all to say…
If you don’t feel good, there’s a chance you won’t practice at all.
Shouldn’t we hope for our practice to feel calming, rewarding, and restorative?
How to Effectively Practice Violin, Feel Good & Make Progress
Is it possible to feel good and progress at the same time?
The play along video linked above (or more here) is a great way to start to effectively practice violin. Granted, it may feel “too easy” at first. You may “sound good”, which flies in the face of Michael’s advice. But I have a hunch that you’ll also receive other “practice benefits” and it will increase your motivation to practice violin
If you identify as a musician – if it’s a part of who you are and you want it to always be that way, I invite you to deepen and refresh your relationship with practice, music, and your instrument.
Your practice can give back to you as much as you put in and more.
Your practice is ultimately, like Yoga, a gateway to be a better friend to yourself.