The purpose of practice is, naturally, to improve, but we sometimes hit roadblocks or develop bad habits that diminish our investment of time and hard work. Even worse, doing the wrong thing can lead to injury. Everyone wants to play their best and advance their skills in the shortest amount of time. While there are no shortcuts, by cultivating good habits and practicing consistently, you will see and hear your violin performances improve.

With the goal of advancement in mind, be considerate that we all develop at a different pace. Some goals will be easier to achieve than others, so keep a good, humble attitude to maximize the pleasure of playing.

Developing Practice Routines and Good Habits

Map out your practice time beforehand so you have an agenda of what you’re looking to accomplish each day. This will help pace your practice sessions and ensure you are always on task. Once your goals are outlined, here are five practice tips to help violinists of all skill levels develop and maximize their time.

1. Tuning and Warm Ups

The first thing you should always do before practicing is tune your instrument. In addition to ensuring you’re not wasting any time, it will help improve and refine your sense of pitch. Following that, loosen your ears and finger muscles by playing scales for a few minutes. Scales are a perfect warm up that will allow you to dive right into the rest of your day’s playing agenda.

2. Maintain Good Posture

In addition to helping you establish good habits, having correct posture will minimize the chance of injury or strain. Seat yourself forward with your rear on the front half of your seat, rest your violin on your shoulder, and keep your back straight. Follow these steps for good posture:

  • Comfortably place your left hand around the neck of your violin. There should be some empty space, so don’t squeeze or rest your wrist on the neck
  • Let your left elbow hang loose below the violin to maximize comfort
  • Keep the violin parallel to the floor
  • Use your chin and shoulder rest
  • Hold your bow in your right hand relaxed, with your pinky on top of the bowstick
  • When not playing, hold your instrument in the rest position by the neck with your right arm

To keep things fresh, spend some time standing while playing too. When standing, play relaxed in an open stance, feet parallel with your hips, so you can sway with the music, if you desire to do so.

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If you aren’t sure your posture is correct, try watching yourself in a mirror. If you are concerned by what you see, consult a local teacher or a fellow violinist you trust. Be mindful that posture isn’t something you nail down perfectly once and never have to revisit. Tweaks should be made as you develop to ensure precision and comfort.

3. Proper Head and Shoulder Placement

While practicing, avoid tilting your head to either side. This is so you keep your neck aligned with your spine, avoiding unnecessary strain in your back, shoulders and muscles. You also want to keep your shoulders relaxed. This is challenging, as shoulders can tense up without warning, so you want to be mindful of your body and how you feel throughout your practice sessions. As you build muscle strength and maintain good posture, this will get easier but you mustn’t ignore how your body aligns while playing.

4. Practice Your Violin Using a Metronome

To play rhythms correctly, use a metronome to measure beats per minute. This timekeeper can be your musical heartbeat while practicing. It will help you warm up with scales and even guide you through difficult passages of sheet music, helping maximize your practice time so you don’t stay stuck any longer than you need to be.

You can download a free metronome app so you don’t have to keep unnecessary equipment onhand.

5. Don’t Shy Away From Challenging Sheet Music

In addition to using a metronome, repeat challenging passages to conquer difficult sheet music. Focus on precision and repetition so that you can begin playing more challenging music. If you do this, practice time will become more fun and rewarding.

To start, practice slowly. Once you know what to do, and have played the passage correctly multiple times, start to speed up. Many violinists start their metronome at 60 or so beats a minute, then dial up the speed to 80, then 100, and so on. No matter your speed, maintain good posture and emphasize consistent fingering.

How Many Minutes a Day Should You Practice Your Violin?

The more experienced you are playing, the longer you should practice. However, since you want to be as focused and precise as possible, you don’t want to overdo it. The better your focus, the easier it is to avoid fatigue and making mistakes.

Teenage and adult developing violinists should practice an hour to 90 minutes a day. Violinists who are 9 or younger tend to fatigue and lose their focus quickly, therefore there’s little or no benefit in having them practice more than 30 minutes at a time. If they are intent on advancing quickly, they can play one 30-minute session in the morning or afternoon followed by another 30 minutes in the evening when they feel refreshed.

Advanced and professional violinists are expected to perform at high levels for long periods, so it’s important for them to get used to playing lengthy sessions. For these violinists, practicing three to four hours a day is often necessary.

CodaBow Can Assist Your Development as a Violinist

Learn more violin practice tips with this guide. CodaBow has a range of other resources to support your journey as a violinist.

No matter your skill level, CodaBow allows you to always give your best performance. Our carbon fiber bows feature award-winning designs that rival the quality of Pernambuco but contain no regulated materials and they are nearly indestructible, maximizing your investment. Visit your local CodaBow dealer or try our in-home trial to get started.

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