How to Practice and Practice Routines

The key to great playing on the violin, viola, cello and bass is a regular, quality, steady  practice routine.1.  Find a safe and quiet spot in your home that will be your regular practice area.2.  Set up a music stand.3.  Open your case carefully, keeping it flat on the floor.4.  Be sure you clean your instrument with a soft cotton cloth so that there is no rosin, dust or finger prints visible.5.  Go through your “Steps to Perfect Posture:”  Feet, soft knees, put the violin on the top of the head, cell phone ear bud, shoulder, drop your chin.  Be sure your violin scroll is not drooping!6.  Warm up with soft, gentle open strings.  Count 4 beats for each open string.  Look to see that your bow is parallel to your bridge.   Check that you are playing in the “tone zone.”  Check that your bow is not going over the fingerboard.7.  10 Mississippi Rivers on open A, 10 Mississippi Rivers on open D.  Only count the ones that sound great.  8.  Ten Mississippi Alligators on A, then 10 on D.  Are your notes clean and even with no strings playing when they are not invited?9.  Ten Run Pony Run Pony on A then ten on D.  Are you smooth, clean and is your tone lovely and rich?  Don’t count one if it squeaks!! 10.  Ten Washington Washington on A the then on D.  Are your gorgeous and smooth?  Don’t count it unless it is gorgeous!11.  Now:  Ten Mississippi River, Ten Mississippi Alligator, Ten Run Pony Run Pony, ten Washington Washington, but these are double because you play D then A.  Is your arm going up the elevator to D and down the elevator to A?12.  Check your posture and set your violin ten times in a row.  If you can, repeat the whole practice routine.   13.  Now:  Your warm up is done!  Next:  Practice every song every day.  Practice carefully and slowly every song every day.  Check that you are in the tone zone, check that you are not letting your bow go over the fingerboard.  Are you using a relaxed and flexible bow arm?  Is your elbow opening and closing smoothly?   14.  Be sure to practice every day.  A few minutes every day is the best way to practice.