Welcome to my site, about all things violin and viola. Here you will find interesting tips and pointers, and thoughts about playing these beautiful instruments.

14 May 2024

Snow Lion - Tibetan singing and dranyen with strings

 And now for more music inspiration I hope you will enjoy - mixing of chamber string orchestra with traditional Tibetan music.

Here is the wonderful Tibetan musician Tenzin Choegyal playing the dranyen and singing, with Camerata - Queensland's Chamber Orchestra.  The piece is called Snow Lion, and was arranged for the ensemble by cellist Katherine Philp.

This album Yeshi Dolma was a delight to get to work on, and I hope you enjoy Tenzin's incredible voice.

6 May 2024

How to practice perfectly

Only perfect practice makes perfect... this is a big deal.  What this means is that when practising, you only ever want to let yourself play anything as you would like to perform it.  That way you are only ever programming in to your brain and body, the perfect result you want to get out.

But how can you practice something perfectly when you can't play it yet?!  Working out this puzzle is the key to practice!

Of course an important part of this puzzle is to first choose your music carefully - enough of a challenge to stretch you, but not so hard that you cannot technically master it.  Beyond this, I have two favourite practice techniques in my toolbox that I always recommend:

1.  Chunking - isolating out one small section to work on, perhaps so small it is only a couple of notes.

2.  Practice slowly (and I mean really slowly... seriously, much more slowly than you are probably thinking right now!).

If you make a problem section small enough, and slow enough, you should be able to master it with all the physical co-ordination requirements clearly ordered.  Then it is just a matter of a few perfect repetitions of this section to 'programme it in'.  Repeat this over a few days and you should see clear progression.

You can then use a method such as 'marbles in a jar' (explained in a later post) to effectively and perfectly practice this section, particularly if you want to be extra secure for performance.

When I was a student, I had a sticky note on my music stand clearly prominent with the words - Practice makes PERMANENT!  It was a very helpful reminder to me during those years, and I think an important thing to always keep in mind whenever you pick up your instrument (or do anything in life).

1 May 2024

Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect - such a common saying particularly in the world of learning music.  Sadly this saying is only half true.

Practice makes permanent!  Only perfect practice makes perfect

This should be the actual saying, and it is a very important distinction.  Whatever you practice will become permanent, and this is so important to think about when playing your instrument.  If you let yourself get away with bad habits, they will become permanent (or at least very hard to fix!).

The trick to getting better is not the amount of time spent practising, but rather regular intentional and careful time with your instrument.  Always be aware of what you are training your brain and body to do while playing, and whether or not that is actually what you want to become your permanent habit.

Practising while keeping this in mind is so much more tiring, and requires careful and constant attention to detail.  You will probably find you cannot practise for as long when you start focusing like this at all times.  My top tip for helping focus while practising - dark chocolate 85% and up!