William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Designing a Practicing Routine

A useful lessons for anyone practicing violin

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick gives you a practice routine to follow easily.

Released on July 13, 2022

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

First on my model's list is Basics.

1-The "Yost System for Violin" or my "OneStringScales" which I created from his idea. From either book you should target 4 exercises for 5 min each.
2-"The School of Violin Tecnics" by Schradieck or my "Essentially Schradieck" which is his idea turned upside down should target 10 exercises for 2 min each.
3-Now from Dounis and his "Artist's Technics of Violin Playing". You have many different options so here is a sample...
Exercise 1. Page 10 & 11 // On E (or another string) - any 20 measures
Exercise 2. Page 12 // On E (or another string) - a-d or any 4
Page 53 // On D and A (or other strings) / a-d equals

If you wish you could substitute one of these areas with various exercises for Vibrato, LH touch, Parallel bow, etc.

This should take between approx. 50 minutes. Take a 10 minute break after this session if you are going to continue.

Second on my model's list is Scales.

-Start with a 3 8va Scale using a 24 notes ascending and 24 descending scale. Do this 1 note to a bow then 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 and finally 24. Using these you can work on bow strokes, vibrato, shifts, etc., whatever your goals are, whatever you are trying to accomplish mid or long term. This should take you about 15 minutes.

-Next are arpeggios. These are done 1 note to a bow then 3, then 9. You should really pay attention to shifts here. You should allot 10 minutes for this.

-Next on the list are double stops. For this I prefer using Dounis.
For Example:
Page 35 // On A and E / 1a-b-c-g-h (1 minute each)
Page 43 // On A and E / 1a-b 2a-b 3c (1 minute each)
Page 53 // On D and A / 1a-b 2a-b-c (1 minute each)

-Finally there are scale excerpts from the pieces we work on. I call them Concerto scales. I would suggest working on 2 for 5 minutes each.

All of this should take 50 minutes. Again take a 10 minute break after this session if you are going to continue.

Third on the list is an Etude or for more advanced students a Paganini caprice. For the record with my students I set a time restraint of 1 to 2 weeks for each etude to be learned. If this is not possible then I need to backtrack and fill in the pieces necessary for this to occur. The first day (perhaps more for a caprice) should be used to read through and discover where the problem areas are.

There are 3 areas:
1/. For 15 minutes you need to target 3 specific work areas to work on for 5 minutes each.
2/. Then you should enlarge the targeted area to work on for 5 minutes each (total 15 min)
3/. After this you should do 20 minutes of play throughs.

This should take between 50 minutes and as always upon completion take another 10 minute break before continuing.

Next on my model's list are two areas that require a similar kind of practice organization. They are the Concerto or Solo piece area and the Unaccompanied solo work area. As with the etude or caprice one should first take time to become familiar with the notes, fingerings, rhythms & bowing's. This will probably take around 3 days depending of course on the length of the work being studied.

I remember having a lesson with Ms Delay and she spoke about ways to organize time in practicing. She explained to me that one way was based a time limit, on how long something would last. And the other way was based on a predetermined number of times something was done. The first way turned out not the best for me as I kept looking at my watch. So I used the other way which worked better for me.

I created a sheet which worked like this...
-In the 1st column I numbered each line 1, 2, 3 or more and then had a recap or recapitulation. In the recap line I played the complete passage.
-The 2nd column was titled measures. Here I put the specific measures from the passage that I was to work on.
-The 3rd column, titled reason, was were I explained why I was working this specific area of the passage.
-The 4th column was were I marked the number of times I was to do the area marked. To allow me to better calculate time I used 7 x's / 12 x's / 24 x's etc .
-The 5th column was where I marked after each time I did the motive. I marked them one at a time as this gave me a few seconds to reflect on what I had done.

This idea helped me organize the practicing of my Concerto, Solo piece or Unaccompanied solo work. I allowed 50 minutes for each area and took a 10 minute break between the two.

And with that we have a model for a practicing routine with an average daily total time of around 5 hours. Ahh but you don't have 5 hours available? Well to handle this I came up with the use of percentages p. Rather than thinking 50 minutes for each area, think 20%. Using this idea say you had 3 hours available, then you would have around 36 minutes for each area. You will probably need to adjust the content of each area as well. So I think with that you can see that it is a routine that can adjust and evolve reflecting your ever changing limits, needs and goals!
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