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The two best times to practice

Posted by FiddlerJones on Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Want to know the two best times to practice? When you feel like, and when you don't feel like it.

This bit of wisdom came to mind yesterday as I was watching a video interview with bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin.

To be a successful musician, he said, you need to take your instrument out of your case and do some "pickin'" every day. No exceptions. No vacations.

This brought to mind something Luciano Pavarotti once mentioned in an interview.

Talking to a People magazine reporter in 1980, the great Italian tenor was asked how often he practices. His response:

"Every day. Once a famous tenor, Aureliano Petile, said, 'If I go one day without singing, I realize it; if I go two days, my friends realize it; if I go three days, the audience realizes it.'"

Two musicians of vastly different backgrounds and styles saying essentially the same thing.

Some days I don't feel like practicing at all. Usually I try to practice anyway, if only for a half an hour or even less. Often I surrender to laziness and just blow it off.

So I need to be reminded by people like Jimmy Martin and Luciano Pavarotti that practicing needs to be like brushing your teeth. You just do it, even when it's a pain and it's the last thing you want to do.



18 comments on “The two best times to practice”

bj Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @5:58:21 AM

There's people who don't want to play? I can't imagine that. I suffered an injury not long ago and HAD to put down the bow for a few days to recover. It was the hardest few days of my life.

FiddlerJones Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @5:59:42 AM

Yes, shocking but true.

Cyndy Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @6:16:35 AM

I'm still in the can't-get-enough-of-this-thing-called-fiddle phase, but if I substitute the word "housework" for the word "practice" then your post speaks to me in a powerful way . . . [she says glancing toward a pile of dishes before heading for the fiddle case]

FiddlerJones Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @6:31:05 AM

I wouldn't equate practicing with washing dishes. Some evenings, washing dishes sounds more appealing!

Cyndy Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @6:42:52 AM

Well, if I think of washing dishes as whirlpool therapy for tired fingers aching to get back to the fiddle, then I can see the appeal. [she says with a big smile on her face]

Cyndy Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @6:43:40 AM

(Actually, just for the record, I really like washing dishes.)

FiddlerJones Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @6:50:24 AM

I find washing dishes therapeutic. My wife thinks I'm nuts. Well, for that and other reasons.

brya31 Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @8:38:39 AM

I work a lot of hours so there are days that I just do not want to practice, 9 out of 10 times I still will pick the fiddle up and play for at least 15 minutes.

FiddlerJones Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @9:02:45 AM

Same here, brya, except for the working a lot of hours part. Sometimes my heart's not in it but I do it anyway. Gotta keep those fingers active, every day.

tsaimichael Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @9:28:45 AM

Here's to practicing when you don't want to or don't have the time. Practicing to me is my therapy.

mudbug Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @1:09:57 PM

Sometimes I have to work 10 hour days, and I'm too beat to concentrateat the end of the day, so I solved it by practicing in the morning when I'm sharp. I have to leave the house for work at 5:30, so I get up at 2:00 AM to get 2 hours practice in. Once the alarm clock goes off, there's no turning back. Put on a pot of coffee and tune up the fiddle. It's a great way to start the day.

FiddlerJones Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @3:43:56 PM

Wow, Steve, my hat's off to you. That's dedication.

BGT Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @5:33:34 PM

Wow, Steve you are DEDICATED.
I remember hearing a long time ago that there are two kinds of musicians, everyday players and everybody else. A long time ago I resolved to play every day and I do. I think if you commit yourself to it, in not too long a time you HAVE to play everyday. Sometimes when you are tired and uninspired, you can gain a new energy after playing a half hour and you can go another half hour. It's cumulative, the more you play, the more possibilities open up as you gain facility, command of positions and notes, recognize double stops and bow strokes, you get inspired to play pieces that you previously thought were beyond you. It happens in spite of yourself. I read an interview with a famous fiddler who said that the single most important thing he did to improve was finding the will to force his butt in the practice chair. It pays off in ways you can't know beforehand. If you play everyday, your whole fiddle thing grows exponentially. You will be amazed.

frogeyes Says:
Wednesday, June 9, 2010 @9:15:27 PM

I have a very set routine which seems to work very well when i am tired like i am right now i go home straight away and do any dishes that didn't make it into the dishwasher that morning i make a coffee and then go straight to my room and practise what i am supposed to for 1/2 an hour and then out comes all the fun stuff i am not doing in class and i play til i have had enough. If i don't play everyday i feel really guilty that my instrument isn't getting the attention she deserves :) after a week i really feel it if i haven't stuck to my routine

KCFiddles Says:
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @9:39:32 AM

Two best times to practice?
Daytime
Night time

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Thursday, June 10, 2010 @5:04:12 PM

Well, FiddlerJones, I fiddle when I wants to. Forcing myself to fiddle...ahhhh...I don't want to start doing that. It's my fiddle and I'll fiddle when I want to. If Pavasnotti wants to sing every day, he can go sing.

OTJunky Says:
Saturday, September 18, 2010 @3:11:12 PM

"Every day. Once a famous tenor, Aureliano Petile, said, 'If I go one day without singing, I realize it; if I go two days, my friends realize it; if I go three days, the audience realizes it.'"

FWIW, this quote's usually attributed to Heifitz though when it's attributed to him the word "singing" is replaced by "practicing".

--OTJ

wilford Says:
Monday, April 11, 2011 @5:59:49 AM

There sure is a difference between just sitting down and playing a bunch of tunes one already knows over again and practicing. Myself, I prefer practicing and it's beginning to pay off like I never would have imagined.

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