Practice lays the groundwork for beautiful music-making, but only when it's done efficiently and accurately.
To attain this efficiency, it helps to draw up a plan, both in mind and on paper. We need to ask these key questions:
What are my goals?
What are my weaknesses?
What are my strengths?
What do I need to address the issues and captialize on my strengths?
In many cases, people often neglect technical work, skipping etudes and scales for repertoire or tunes. However, technique gives us the tools we need to play the repertoire in the most beautiful and effective way.
When writing out your plan, consult your teacher. Ask the questions above. Develop goals together. After that, think about your short and long-term goals. Maybe it's to play a certain piece at a recital in six months. Pen or type it out
Set a realistic amount of time to devote to practice each day. For some, it'll amount to five minutes, while others may put in five hours.
Here's how I start my practice session:
I ask myself, what do I want to accomplish? Note, this is a microgoal - something which can be realistically accomplished within the duration of a single practice session.
Open Strings - even detaché strokes using the full bow, proper arm and right hand position. I'll alternate between fast and slow bows, applying the three elements of tone production: bow speed, sounding point, and pressure.
Scales - these are the building blocks for all music, so it's a bit overwhelming thinking about scales and how they can be varied (from arpeggios to modes, minors, blues, jazz, whole and many other types of scales, not to mention mixing in rhythms and bowings, chords, double stops and bowings). I'll choose a scale to work on each week, and practice various aspects as it applies to music and studies I am working on.
= I then move on to etudes, repertoire, and learning some tunes by ear.
Finding a groove that works for you and bolsters your progress is most important. Do you have a nice practice journal? Share it on our Facebook page. Post a picture and a brief description of your regimen.