Practice structure

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Casey Willis 1 year ago.

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  • #12969


    Hi everyone.
    New here and new to the fiddle. Been playing for a month and feel like I’m progressing nicely. I would like to ask if anyone can give some advice as how to structure a practice session. Would it be a better use of my time dedicating a whole session to, say, technique, or break it up between, say, technique, learning new songs and reviewing already learnt ones? Or just go with how I feel?

    I tend to practice a few times a day of around 30 minutes to an hour at a time, totaling between 2 to 3 hours a day.

    Any advice would be wonderful.

    Really loving the lessons here so far. Can’t wait to pick up the fiddle in the morning!

    Thanks everyone.


  • #12970

    Casey Willis

    Hi, Oliver.

    Good question. All three are a valuable use of time!

    Based on your experience level, I would recommend trying to include a little technique work every time you have a practice session. If you have a 30 minute time frame to practice in, I’d probably start out on 10-15 minutes of technique/exercise work on whatever particular skill you are trying to master…then work on new/old tunes for the remainder of the time.

    Good for you for having that much time to devote to playing…that’s great! If you have the flexibility, it’s generally more valuable to practice a couple of times a day for 1/2 hour instead of once a day for a full hour…2-3 hours a day is great…don’t forget to stretch your fingers/wrists/arms. Seriously. That’s important.

    A couple of other tips while I’m thinking about it:
    A metronome is your friend. Consider practicing exercises and tunes with one.
    Try to play whatever you’re working on cleanly at a slow speed before increasing speed. If you can’t play it cleanly slowly, you sure won’t play cleanly when you speed up…
    Spend plenty of time working on your bow hold/right wrist exercises…

    All for now…any other members want to chime in with tips that work well for you??


  • #12971


    Hi Casey,

    That’s super helpful, thank you. I definitely need to slow down a little (I blame the excitement!), the metronome will be useful for that.

    I’m definitely lucky to have a fair amount of spare time at the moment, and filling it with fiddle practice is great. I do live in close proximity to others however, so most of the practice is muted, also to try and keep my wife sane!

    Thanks again


  • #12972

    Roland White

    Hi Oliver, Welcome to FiddleVideo,

    Great to have a new Fiddler so excited he can’t practice enough. Casey is spot on for mixing your practice with some technique, and then moving on to your other tunes in learning or practicing. Here are a few of my kernels of insight that have helped me.

    I think the most important thing is Focused Practice. This means you have a method to your practice session. I suggest including 25% of your practice session devoted to technique. If you have an hour this is only 15 minutes. I spend 3-5 on Bowing 3-5 on Scales and 3-5 minutes on hearing and pitch using drones while I practice scales and arpeggios.

    You can make practice anything you want but I encourage going into your practice with 1-3 objectives so that your practice remains focused. There have been a lot of recent studies showing a shorter focused practice is better that a long tiring non-focused practice and will produce results faster when you implement warm up and technique in your sessions. Good luck and let us know how you’re doing.

    FYI …I also suggest a private practice room where you can bounce off the walls making any sound you want. Playing with a mute doesn’t allow you to feel and hear the complete resonance of the instrument when you hit your notes properly and its hard to develop touch with your bow when it is muted. Thanks again
    and Fiddle on… Roland Moderator

    • #12973


      Hi Roland,

      Thanks for the advice, really helpful! Especially the focused practice. As I’m starting out there is a ton of stuff I need to work on so can get a bit all over the place, but that makes complete sense keeping it shorter but focused.

      Good point about the mute too, any chance I get I’ll take the bugger off! It’s just I’m recently married and would like to stay that way!

      Thanks again for the help, really appreciated.


    • #13131


      Do you have a recommended drone app or suggestions to maintaining a drone?

    • #13133


      Cleartune works really well for me as both a drone and a tuner. Nice and loud. I’m on an Android phone – not sure if it’s available for iPhone.


    • #13184

      Casey Willis

      I second the vote for Cleartune. I used to have a really expensive tuner, and that app does better…never used it to try to practice drones, though…good thought, Andrea.

  • #12974

    Casey Willis

    Good point on focused practice, R.

    Too funny on the mute/marriage link, O.

  • #12977


    Hi Casey and Roland,

    Just wanted to let you guys know that I took your advice. I started my sessions with some focused practice today (working on clear tone, string crossing and bowing). I then worked through and learnt “Whiskey Before Breakfast”. Once it was in my head, I set the metronome nice and slow to stop me racing ahead (80bpm… Super slow I know!) and I have just managed to make it through the tune with no mistakes, no scratches or squeaks and no bowing of wrong strings, all with a clear tone. This is the first time I’ve made it through a tune like this, so I’m super happy! (There was no one around for me to chest bump at the time sadly!) Thank you so much! Your help and great videos really have made a big difference already.

    All the best


    • #12978

      Casey Willis

      Awesome, Oliver.

      Sounds like you are on the right path, sir! I can’t wait until I have time to practice myself!!

      Keep up the great work…glad to hear the site is helping advance your playing…but as you know, it’s all up to you!!


  • #13023

    Roland White

    Hi Oliver,

    Thats great news. Keep up the good work. Nothing will get you fired up like observing your own progress. Keep Setting your daily focus goals and you will notice some improvement with each session. Cheers and fiddle on! Roland

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