Posts Tagged ‘practice’

Another Year With Bow In Hand

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Fun With Your ViolinHappy New Year! It’s January 1, and that starts me thinking about my interaction with my violin.

Frankly, I haven’t been as active this year as I would have liked. I hope to change that this year. Some of my goals (I don’t make “resolutions.”) for the year include:

Getting a whole lot more active with this blog.

Scales and arpeggios at least three times a week.

Playing something that makes me smile every time I pick up my violin.

Using my violin to help others smile much more often.

Working on my fiddling and my improvisation more, rather than just my more classical stuff.

Interacting with more people who share a love of the violin…both in person and on the Internet.

More games on Violin Student Central.

Trying to spread the word about the website better. If we want to stay online we MUST generate more interest! (You can help! Tell your friends and share the URL if you find a daily Tip or History page you like. And if you buy through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or eBay, or ANY of our partners, you can help us pay our server bills by simply using a link on our site to go to their site. It won’t cost you a cent, and it will be very helpful to us!)

Happy New Year!

–Art Haule  –

It Doesn’t Matter How You Learned, All That Counts is That You Play!

School is Almost Out – Don’t Quit Yet!

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

The school year is winding down here in Texas, and you can already see the kids beginning to relax. There is talk of swimming pools, vacations, and summer camps. Homework is becoming slightly less important to kids, although their parents and teachers haven’t realized that yet, and still expect it to be completed.

Believe it or not, this is an extremely important time of year for music students!

As we slip into Summer, many students will set their instruments aside to be picked up again the first day of school. This is tragedy enough, but it’s even worse if the student ends the school year with bad habits coming to the fore.

The way we finish this school year is probably the way we will start next school year!

If your posture or position is bad, it will probably be worse when September rolls around. If practice habits are poor now, good habits will be harder than ever to re-establish. If accessories or sheet music are not available as the year ends, they’ll just have to be purchased this Fall, delaying the start of practice for another week or ten days.

My message for you is – Finish Strong!

Now is the time to make sure that you have everything that you need now, because the need won’t go away over the Summer. Now is the time to touch up your posture, you’ll remember the right way to stand, sit, or hold the instrument better if you’re doing things right when school ends. From now until the school year ends you should play a lot! Add fifteen minutes to each practice. Stretch yourself by learning that one additional etude. Play something you really like every single day. Make sure that you remember that when you play your violin (viola, cello, trombone…whatever!) you actually have fun!

Now is the time to make sure that you have a friend or two who will be playing their instrument over the Summer. You can play chamber music. You can get together to jam. You can even just play some of the pieces that you enjoyed from orchestra or band this year. Now is the time to look into Mark O’Connor’s Fiddle Camp or Mark Wood’s Rock Orchestra Camp or any of the dozens of great opportunities to play and have fun that occur over the Summer months. You’ll learn a lot while getting to meet some pretty incredible musicians! Now is the time to realize that playing your instrument is not just a chore, it is a part of your life! It makes you smile and feel good about the things you can do that you never expected.

Finish the school year strong. It will make starting next school year (or maybe even this Summer’s music program) a whole lot easier.

Soccer vs Violin–They’re Both Playing, But…

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Sunday afternoon I traveled about 4 miles to the local soccer field to watch my daughter’s team play. Don’t ask about the results, let’s just say that the outcome was not pretty. In fact, the result was pretty dismal. But even though the girls lost, I was interested in the reactions of the players and the spectators.

First, let me talk about the spectators. Most of the folks watching the game were the parents and siblings of the players. Let’s face it, soccer played by 14-year old girls is not a big draw…especially on a glorious Sunday during March Madness. The game was fairly even through the first 15 minutes, but then there was a critical mistake by our team’s defense. Despite a valiant effort by our goalkeeper the Red Hots scored. The floodgates were opened and there was no closing them.

Ball after ball entered the net, and the enthusiasm of the players decreased dramatically. Frankly, the Strikers were going to lose the game, and everyone on or at the field knew it. The girls stopped hustling. The game officials seemed to  decide that this game just needed to be over and stopped making even obvious calls. The opposing team even celebrated goals less once a second, and then a third goal had been scored.

But the parents still cheered.

The girls’ performance was dismal, but the enthusiasm shown by some of the parents was genuine. And even though the players made bad decisions on the field, didn’t do their best, and frankly didn’t even care whether they were giving their best, the parents shouted and cheered. I heard words like “Great Play!” and “Super.” And I scratched my head. I’ve been watching soccer for 40 years, and I didn’t see any of the things that the parents were shouting about. I’ve refereed Division I soccer for the NCAA, and I was really puzzled as to what the enthusiasm was all about.

I began to think more about the reaction of the parents than about the performance of players, coaches, or officials. They were all just going through the motions, but the parents were actually excited about their daughters playing soccer. Admittedly, some of the the excitement turned to vitriol directed at the officials, but the parents were actively involved.

The girls mad a great comeback. I wish that I could tell you that they won the game, but it was actually the worst defeat that the team has suffered in the two years my daughter has played for the Strikers. But the parents were supportive at the end of the game. There were hugs, and compliments for things that had been done well, and support for girls who were sad about the outcome.

I began to think about the reactions of parents who listen to their music students have a bad practice. It might be a bad attitude. It might be less than perfect performance. It might be inattention. All of those things were evidenced on the field, but I heard almost none of those things referenced by the parents when the player was within earshot . . . at least none of it was directed toward the players.  I’m quite certain that the attitude would have been substantially different after the violin practice than after a less than satisfactory soccer game. I know that I was not always as enthusiastic and supportive during and immediately after my daughter’s bad violin practice as I was at her bad soccer game.  Why the disparity?

Now before you get the wrong idea, I am not about to tell you to act enthusiastic even when you don’t feel that way. I’ve heard one Suzuki teacher indicate that “spontaneous” enthusiastic applause was expected after each performance of a piece . . . even during practice . . . even if the performance was mediocre at best. And parents were chastised that their spontaneous applause did not occur often enough or with enough vigor. I’m not talking about that sort of disingenuous behavior. I’m simply questioning why parents become so vehemently supportive with sports, even when things go wrong, and show such a half-hearted response with music. Why the positive attitude with athletics practice and the negative attitude with music rehearsal?  (And remember, I’m questioning my own behavior regarding this as well! There’s certainly no accusatory inference here that I don’t direct at myself.)

This one’s gonna have me scratching my head for a while.

Art Haule

Remember, When We Talk About Violin

The Verb We Use Is Play