William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Practicing with Percentages

Follow this method to improve your practicing routine

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick gives you an effective regimen to follow during your daily violin practice based on easy-to-follow percentages.

Released on October 3, 2018

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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

You see when I think of practicing, of how to explain practicing, it gets very complicated very quickly. Way too many of what I call variables of possibilities to consider. Looking at the overall, the big picture, I see three important factors. The first factor is vision. Having a vision, seeing the big picture, the whole piece will allow you to define your performance possibilities or decisions. Then there are strategies. Once you have made your performance decisions, it's necessary to formulate a strategy that will help you, that will guide you towards the realization of your vision. And finally, there's tactics. Tactics are the steps you take to implement everyday strategies in your practicing which lead you to your performance vision. So some might say that there isn't much of a difference between strategies and tactics but if we look closely, the difference between strategy and tactics is often described as a strategy being long term and tactics being short term. Strategy and tactics are both how you will achieve your goals and achieve your objectives. Strategy is our path or bridge for getting from where we are today to our goal. It's our general resource allocation plan. Tactics are the things that we use to put that general resource allocation plan into action. Now, to help us achieve these broad areas, we need to have the ability to do them. So here are four abilities needed to achieve effective practicing.

One is the ability to set goals and the audacity to push beyond them. Two is the ability to imagine what you are about to do and how you are going to do it. Three is the ability to maintain your focus despite any distractions that may surround you. Four, the ability to work with or around the everchanging nature of the challenge at hand. So now that we have a foundation, let's get more specific and examine the parameters needed to build an effective practice regimen. There are five areas of concentration that we should use in the creation of our practice regimen. One is basics. Two, scales. Three, etudes. Four, concerto, and Bach. I should say concerto or pieces and Bach. Traditionally, each of these areas would receive one hour of practice so it would total about five hours. Some of you find yourselves in a position to do this and even more. But I found that using percentages instead of hours, I found that it's equally as effective in the measurement of point of vision of our time to effectively meet our goals. Percentages, as well, allow us a bit more flexibility in our scheduling as all days are different. Some days you can and some days you simply can't. So let me give you the percentages, my percentages, for each area and explain just a little bit about what could happen during this time.

So, when we do our basics, we are talking about 10% of that total practice time. This is based on the study of Yost, you know, the one finger scales, Dounis, Schradieck, or doing vibrato exercises or any other exercises which give us...which help us to develop the skills we need. Now, we have scales which should take up about 15% of our time. For more advanced students, the scales could be scale passages or excerpts taken from the repertoire or from the concerto or piece that we're studying at the moment. This would be an even more creative way to deal with our time. Moving on to Etudes or Paganini Caprices, 25% of the total time would be allotted. Now, we arrive at concertos or solo pieces. This should take up 25% of the time. We could even break it down inside that 25% to 15% on practicing the small thing, a shift, a run, how we put our fingers down fast and 10% into the idea of performing and what it would take to perform the piece or concerto that we're learning. And finally, with unaccompanied Bach or Ysaÿe, we're left with the remaining 25% of our time which could be broken down the same ways I just described for the concerto or pieces. So here is an outline of my percentages approach. I hope it inspires you to take that practicing even further, to do that practicing even better, to have that better performance.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Sofía Winkler on November 24, 2018 @2:23 pm PST
Thank you Proffesor for your great input. I have a question. Many of us, also play in orchestras, of different levels. What would be the Time percentage that we should dedicate to orchestral part study? Thanks in Advance.
William - host, on November 25, 2018 @11:10 am PST
Hi! My experience with the orchestral literature is limited, I’ve actually conducted it more than played it as a violinist, but if this is where you your performance activity is centered I would treat excerpts as if in the concerto/piece section ... hope this helps!
Sofía Winkler on November 25, 2018 @5:04 pm PST
Thank you very much!
Ron Eason * VSM MEMBER * on October 6, 2018 @5:04 am PST
Still no sound.
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on October 6, 2018 @7:25 am PST
Ron, do you have audio issues with videos also? Please, let me know if you are referring to the video above. If so, have you checked the volume control in the video window itself? Please, let me know...
Cheryl * VSM MEMBER * on October 10, 2018 @12:03 pm PST
I can hear the video!
Fabrizio Ferrari - moderator and CEO, on October 10, 2018 @2:23 pm PST
Great to know that Cheryl!

Please, let me know if you need any further help.

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