A New School Year Brings New Practice Habits

By: Patrick Clark

It seems like school starts earlier every year.  I think in most cases, it actually does.  Either way, this is an exciting new year for me as a teacher.  I’ve been appointed to be the director of a program at a charter school here in Las Vegas called, Rainbow Dreams Academy.  The unique part of my position is that I am actually starting this program from scratch!  What a privilege!  In addition to Rainbow Dreams, I am continuing to grow my private studio at Nevada School of The Arts.  Add Learn Fiddle Online in the mix and you could say I’m a busy guy.

All of this experience is giving me so many ideas on future videos to share with my customers at Learn Fiddle Online.  It’s very exciting.  But as we approach a new school year, I want to encourage you to practice smart this school year.  So often, students are sent home to practice, but have no idea how to approach the tune, or piece.  The answer is subjective but let me give you the basics of a good practice.

1. Warm Up!

“How,” is a question you might ask.  That depends on your skill level.  If you’re an experienced player of two or more years, try long tones on each string at a slow tempo with no fingers.  Just see what the instrument feels like.  Then try the FREE Every Open String Etude video with me.  Then try a scale.

If you’re a beginner, try pulsing eighth notes on the “E” string.  Try 4 times in a row with a metronome set at 70-80 beats per minute.  Try this on the “A” string next.  Then, alternate back and forth.  Either way, you should spend about 10 minutes doing the basic warm up.  Then it’s time to challenge yourself with a technique exercise!  There are tons of etudes to try in my book “Fiddling, The Basics and Beyond.”

2. Treat Yourself To an Etude Challenge

See if you can find an etude that stretches you a bit, but is still achievable in a short period of time, (10-15 minutes or so.) Start slow and be very particular about your pulse, your tone, and your feel.  Don’t go nuts trying to perfect it, just improve it.

3. Tune Time

No, I don’t mean tune your fiddle! That should have happened a while ago!  It’s time to work on your tune!  Find the section you’ve been working on and take another SLOW whack at it.  See how it sounds.  Then, make it better, slowly.  Maybe try another section, SLOWLY.  You can build your speed short stints at a time.

4.  Finish With Something You Know!

When you’ve fried your brain, take two minutes to play through something your hands are very used to playing.  Chances are, it’s going to sound better than it did the last time you played it because you’ve been concentrating on improving other aspects of your playing.  Take a comfortable speed so you feel good finishing up.

5. Set a goal for the next practice, clean your instrument before you put it away.

 

GOOD LUCK!