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Violin Lessons: Practice is Repetition

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[MUSIC]
We all know what
practice is, right?
It's playing your instrument to make stuff
better.
However, it can be more helpful maybe to
think about what practice can represent.
What are we actually doing when we're
practicing?
And one way to think of practice is as
repetition.
Repetition gets a little bit of a sterile
reputation, right?
You're gonna be locked in the practice
room for four hours and
you need to play this a 100 times.
There are people who have learned that way
and a lot of them come out all right.
When you're repeating things, you think of
it as a science experiment.
If you have an experiment where you set up
the same conditions.
You expect the same outcomes.
And when you're able to run experiments
that way you can come up with valid
scientific theories.
Now we're human bodies and human minds
that doesn't always happen.
We can set up the same conditions and
we'll get different outcomes.
But what you're looking for
in your practice is to set the most
favorable conditions.
That means when you start with great
posture,
great setup, if you have a great fingering
and a great plan,
then when you're in the mindset to
maximize your awareness.
You have the best chance to producing
consistent outcomes.
So, if you decide you wanna change those
conditions, that's something else.
So the most important part of great
practice is maximizing positive
repetitions, setting up great conditions,
having a successful outcome and
then maximizing those rep, repetitions.
Part of that is accepting what is, rather
than what you hope there is,
rather than what you wish for and
eliminating the ideas of, of good and bad.
A lot of times in, in violin playing and
in practicing we think this is in tune,
this is out of tune.
This is good, this is bad.
And actually there's a whole spectrum,
right?
There's everything from very flat through
dead center to very sharp.
So there's not in tune and out of tune,
there's a whole spectrum.
And when you're listening to your playing
and your accepting where notes fall on
that spectrum, then you have the right
mindset to make changes when you want.
But first you have to be aware.
You have to accept what is that you're
hearing to know what you can change.
So when I say maximize positive
repetitions we're talking about success.
And success means different things to
different people.
There's success in a very big picture.
That may mean winning an audition, playing
your absolute best in a competition or
a performance under pressure.
But think of what success can mean in a
very tiny sense.
You turn on the metronome and you wanna
play one bar exactly with the metronome,
one bar of 16ths.
When you do that once, that's a success.
And when you do it two, or three, or five
times, you're repeating that success.
Your practice should be made up mostly of
success, believe it or not,
a lot of times we think of practice as, a
lot of failures, a lot of experiments.
And finally, once we push through and we
get it right, and
then we've, we've reached our goal.
That would be a very inefficient practice
session, in fact.
That would be a practice session where
you're trying to achieve way too much
at once.
If you're mostly failing, if you're mostly
missing the mark,
whatever mark you've set for yourself,
then you're mostly failing.
Instead, what I'd like you to do is to set
attainable goals.
That may be very tiny just like my example
with the metronome.
To play four notes or eight notes with the
metronome.
To make a shift in tune or to make a shift
with the pace that you want.
That's your attainable goal.
When you play, and see whether you've
attained that goal.
You're observing what is,
you're noticing whether you've achieved
success in that small goal or not.
If you haven't, and if you try it a few
times, I would say about three,
if you fail three times at something, you
need to change something.
You either need to change the goal and
make it a goal that's more manageable.
Or you can change something that you're
doing, a very simple change.
Like, three times in a row I've been flat
on the shift.
Now, I'm gonna change the rules of the
game,
I, the rules were success was me hitting
the shift dead in tune.
But now since I've noticed that I'm flat
three times, I'm changing the rules and
success is gonna mean that I'm either in
tune or sharp, gonna give myself
the freedom to go sharp, because I need to
change something about my habit.
So now you play it three more times and
you succeed three more times, so
that's good.
Now you're feeling more relaxed and
confident.
And it's not,
it's not about lowered expectations, it's
about realistic expectations.
Because if you fail time after time your
playing will not improve.
So, you gradually set the bar higher and
higher as you're attaining success.
Once you've achieved that you wanna
maximize the repetitions.
As I was talking about, an inefficient
session before where you,
you try a whole bunch of different things
then finally you get it once and now,
now that it's, you've got it.
That's just the beginning.
You need to maximize those positive
repetitions.
Cuz believe it or not,
most people underestimate how many times
they can repeat something positively.
They think well I've, I've got it now.
I don't need to repeat it.
In fact, the more you repeat it, the
stronger it gets.
And you can measure how many times you
should repeat something positively
by your concentration.
If you repeat something five times
positively and
you're still really in tune with where you
are.
You're, you're very aware, you're having a
good time.
Then you should repeat it more.
You should repeat it until your
concentration starts to go because
when the concentration starts to go either
that means that your task is now too easy,
there's nothing for
your mind to concentrate on because you
can do it in your sleep.
That's a great place to be in, because you
can do it in your sleep.
You've, you've mastered that.
Or it can also mean if your concentration
goes that your task is too difficult.
Your mind is overloaded with, with too
many things.
It knows that it can't succeed and
it kind of shuts down and it starts
thinking about other things.
In that case, of course, you have to
change your goal so
that you can succeed once again and repeat
that.
The last thing to remember about practice
as repetition is that you need to accept
steps backward sometimes.
You're gonna make a lot of progress in a
day, sometimes, and then the next day,
you come back.
And you're, you're below where you were
the day before.
That's normal and that's going to happen.
So it's a cliche.
Three steps forward, two steps back.
But you still netted a step forward.
And when you do that day after day, and
month after month,
you build big successes.
[MUSIC]