Setting Daily Goals

Productive practice sessions

You want to be as productive as you can when you practice. You want to get the most out of every minute that you are spending with your violin. One of the things you can do to improve your productivity is to set a daily goal for your practice. Daily goals will keep you from practicing randomly and aimlessly. You have a better chance of sticking to your tasks.

Plan out

It's a good idea to plan out what you will do for the day. How are you going to use the 3 hours you have for practice? If you want you can write out your plan. Decide roughly how long you would spend on each piece, etudes, etc., for example, 45-min. on scales, 20-min. each on two etudes, 30-min. on one piece, and 30-min. on another piece.

Also, come up with a broad goal for each etude, piece, etc. for the day, like your main focus on this etude today is to get the bow stroke right, then fucus on shifting.

Set small goals throughout the day

After you have a general idea what to do for the day, set small goals as you practice. For instance, set a goal for the next 5 minutes. Focus on one specific aspect of playing for the next 5 minutes, and focus on another aspect for the following 5 minutes. In other words, break down and focus on small things at a time instead of trying to do everything right at the same time.

Let's say you are going to practice a piece for the next 30 minutes. Before you dive in, think about what you want to accomplish for the next 5 minutes. Say, let's tighten up the intonation from mm. 20 to 26, or let's work on connecting one note from the next in this beautiful long melody from mm.56 to 68.

The important thing is to focus on one thing at a time in a small chunk of music. This is important especially when you are practicing a piece. There are so many things going on when you play a piece; you have to think about intonation, bow strokes, tonal characters, string crossings, shiftings, the list goes on and on. It is very difficult for anyone to do everything right without practicing them separately first. You build one block at a time, and add the blocks gradually to make the final product.

Setting small goals during practice will nurture this sort of habit where you focus on specific things at a time. It may seem like it will take too much time this way, and yes it does take a long time. However, in the end, your playing will be more secure and under control. And you will see a big difference down the road if you keep practicing this way compared to if you didn't do it.

In the long run, you will get better quicker with this practice method. You are making yourself aware of everything you are doing. You have figured out every detail what and how you want to play. One of the reasons why good violinists are good is because what they are doing is a product of their conscious decisions. They don't let their fingers and arms do whatever they want. Good violists make sure everything is under control to the tiniest details. To develop this sort of playing, we need to practice with the mind set and method where we will think of every aspect of your playing at all times.

Challenge yourself

It is fine to set a goal that you know you can achieve that day. But how about setting a goal that is a little difficult to reach?

The good thing about setting a goal that cannot be achieved easily is that it will make you think about how you will reach the goal. You will still have the time limit, so you can't get there by simply practicing longer. You want to think about a better way, more efficient way to get to the goal. You also need to concentrate more to get a better result without spending more time to achieve your goal.

By setting difficult goals, you will improve the level of concentration and practice method. To get better quickly, we need to be creative when we practice. We shouldn't just repeat the same line 10 times. We will talk about various kinds of practice methods in other articles.