10 Ways to Improve Your Playing

  1. Thom
  2. January 10, 2008 4:26 am

No matter what your instrument, the keys to success stay consistent. Here are 10 simple ways to improve your playing!

  1. Keep a Journal

    Use a spiral, composition, or personalized journal notebook to keep track of what you practice. Some suggestions include session goals, long term goals, problems and trouble spots, pieces you are working on, how long and how productive your sessions are. Doing this will allow you to look back weeks, months, or years later to see where you were and how far you have come!

  2. Buy a Music Stand and Instrument Stand

    Getting an instrument stand will easily double the amount of time you spend practicing, Ingles Violin Standespecially with an instrument such as violin that requires case unzipping, shoulder rest setting, and bow tightening. The Ingles violin stand is the perfect tool. It is adjustable for the neck and bow holder, and features a clamp to block the violin from falling forward out of the stand. When you want to play, all you have to do is tighten your bow!

    Get yourself good quality clutch based music stand. I recommend the metal Manhasset brand. It is of solid metal construction, adjusts to standing and sitting heights, and is virtually indestructible. They are a little more expensive, but would you rather have an $8-$15 folding stand that can bend or break, or a solid $40+ stand that lasts you a lifetime?

  3. Practice Daily

    Putting forth daily practice will help solidify and build muscle memory and brain pathways. The body and brain is amazingly adaptable, especially when it comes to something that it is doing daily. Many professionals spend SIX or more hours practicing each day! That may not be feasible or even part of your own goals, but even spending ten minutes is better than nothing.

  4. Teach a Friend

    Find a willing friend and show them some of the basics. Try to really get them to understand it- if you can find a way to communicate the concepts well, it will solidify the knowledge in your own head that much more. Get feedback at the end of your lesson to see how you did!

  5. Record Yourself

    Pick up a half-decent recorder and record yourself playing. Play it back and review your intonation, tone, and timing. Ask yourself what you did right and wrong. Figure out how you can improve the wrong things, and how you can keep the good things. Bonus points if you can record in video! Watch your posture, stiffness, confidence, and technique!

  6. Get a Private Teacher

    There is no substitution! Find some one who is going to challenge and push you to your limits. Discuss with your teacher what your goals are in order to help them cater to your needs. Remember to be courteous and let your teacher know ahead of time when you are absent/late, but try and avoid those habits!

  7. Listen to New Artists and Styles of Music

    Exposing yourself to new music is a great way to broaden your horizons not only in personal taste, but thought process as well. The more styles and ideas you are aware of, the more you can adapt to your own interpretations when writing and performing!

  8. Find More Difficult Music and Decode it

    Pick up a piece that is a little bit over your head and spend the time to figure it out on your own. Ask for help from a teacher as needed, but let them know you only want enough to get over a particular hump! When its time for fine tuning- take it to your instructor to have them help you mold the song properly.

  9. Model a Favorite Instrumentalist

    Do you have a favorite musician? Play along with their recordings and try to mimic their every interpretation from dynamics to technique to embellishments. They don’t have even play the same instrument for you to pick up from this. Pretty soon you’ll notice certain favorite trademarks of that player working their way into your playing.

  10. Take a Break!

    Sometimes when you plateau, you need to take a couple of days off to let your brain meditate for a while. Just as it is necessary to the time to let muscles heal after an intense workout, sometimes your brain needs the same thing.

Check out 10+1 More Ways to Improve!

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  1. maggie d. says:
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    i did the find more difficult music and decode it. I started out slow, and then got faster and i got the notes better. This is very helpful, and it helps with notes and finger patterns. I thought that this was a good way to learn because it helps your fingers by starting out slow and getting faster each time.

  2. Marissa says:
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I taught my friend, Lucy, some of the basics. I actually liked this strategy because i not only went back and showed her how to hold the bow and things like posture but got a chance to re-learn and practice those techniques myself. I went through a few of the scales with her as well, which i can never do enough of. I found that this strategy is very helpful and would be nice to do everyonce in a while so i do not forget the basics.

  3. Mischelle says:
    Posted January 2, 2009 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    Hello thom? Thank you for creating this website. I always look for a violin lesson on youtube but I can’t understand what they are talking about violin because primarily as a beginner we are looking on when we will going to bow in every notes and also the counting including how to read the notes, until i found your videos on youtube. I watch already all your videos, somehow I have I deas before I start my violin lesson on January 10, 2009. It really helps. I bought a not really expensive violin, because I follow what I have read on the internet that If you are a beginner you should start on cheaper violins but other website said cheaper violins can’t produce proper tune. Is that true?

    • Hello Mischelle!
      Yes and no. A lot of cheaper beginner violins, while they may not sound fantastic, are perfect for a beginner who doesn’t have a lot to spend and isn’t sure whether or not they are going to continue all the way with the violin. Some beginner violins are very poorly made, and can be counter productive to your learning, while many others are made just fine. Long story short its perfectly OK to start on a cheaper violin and then get something nicer when you’ve begun to pick up on the instrument a bit more.

      Hope that helps!

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