Subtitled: Gifting Yourself and Handling Practice Doldrums
Today marks 4 months of learning violin for me! Similar to month 3, daily practice has been more sporadic than I would like… and I’m learning how to deal with the reality of that in a way that keeps me coming back to the fiddle instead of shaming myself for days I miss.
I think my mindset and how I handle missed practice is very important at this point. I want to keep playing – I still love the instrument and feel like there’s a whole world of music out there for me to discover. It’s just things in adult life that keep tripping me up and pulling my time and energy away.
Granted, missing practice is not something I want to encourage. But if I go heavy handed on myself, I know that it’ll damper the energy and whimsy I’m approaching this process with. I don’t want to do that.
Gifting Myself – Practice Journal
I’m the type of person who can become inspired with a project only to set it down a month or so later. But I’m also the type of person who is still working on producing work weekly for an online project after 17 years of hardly missing a week, aside from vacations. So I can go both ways!
I decided my approach to this would be to celebrate the fact that I’m still practicing after 4 months, even if I don’t make it every day. So I bought myself a little gift of encouragement – a practice journal!
Yes, I’m aware that I could make my own practice Bullet Journal instead of buying one – I might do that somewhere down the line as I do like to journal, and practice seems a good topic to do this with. But to start out, I wanted a journal that would give me some guidance on what I should focus on when I record practice.
The journal I picked was 10,000-hour Practice Log & Journal. It was inexpensive, put together by a musician, and just seemed to have the feel of what I was looking for. I’m not sure that I buy into the 10,000 hour theory of practice, but I am pleased with the journal!
While EEI had a little place for me to record my time and what I practiced on the website, it was just a short one-line description. This book goes into a lot more detail in what you record, and while it takes more time to fill it out, the act of writing down what I practiced and how well I did makes me think back over the session. It’s not just one and done.
I’ll talk more about this book in its own post since this one is getting long already! I do want to quickly touch on my actual progress!
Month 4 Progress
I spent some time working with the FiddleHed online lessons this month. I really do like the approach and how songs are broken down in chunks to learn more easily. I had already picked up this method from reading the Practice of Practice, but this actually put it into action. I may come back to the site in the future as I did have fun with the songs, even if they were just your starter tunes.
I the end, I decided that instead of jumping into a brand new method, even though I enjoy FiddleHed, I really want to see what I started through with Essential Elements for Strings – Book 1 with EEi: Violin. I like this series a whole lot, and even more now that I’ve discovered backing tracks for the online playback songs.
I’ve made pretty good progress and I’m getting towards the end of the book. So my goal is to focus on learning the songs and working on the exercises that will finish Book 1. Once I “graduate” that, I’ll decide where to go. I have other method books that I’d like to investigate, or even Book 2 of EEI on down the line.
I have mostly solidified playing songs #116-#118, since this is where I’ve been stalled out at since last month. I find myself going over and over these tunes (Song for Maria, Banana Boat Song, Firoliralera) to retain my practice since it’s been so spotty. While I can play the songs alright, it isn’t good to not be moving forward at all.
Last night, I decided to push on past the Skill Builders section (which are mostly scales that I practice, too), and try out a new song – Jingli Nona. While I haven’t tried playing it with the music yet, just working through the song on my own, it seems like it should be pretty intuitive to learn. Here’s what it sounds like:
It’s nice to be making progress on a new song again! Hoping Month 5 will turn out better that the past two months have been for practice.