Summer Fitness Goals: Violin Edition

Happy (belated) Father’s Day everyone! I had a wonderful day yesterday, which was spent with my mom’s side of the family and some extended cousins. My uncle and a few of the cousins brought their guitars and were playing in our living room for what may have been hours, with everyone singing and enjoying each other’s company. It was a wonderful way to enjoy the time I have with my family before packing up and heading off to Aspen for the rest of the summer.

On that note, as I prepare to leave behind this incredibly stressful and (only somewhat) counterproductive year and enter festival mode, I have chosen to re-evaluate the way I’m practicing. Similar to my race training, I have chosen to design a practice-related challenge for myself, which I will get to shortly. It came about as I watched the recording from a recital I played on Saturday – I played the last “movement” of Glazunov, which I have been working on for a while (albeit on and off), for my teacher’s annual studio recital. Unfortunately, the performance was not at all what I had hoped for or even expected from myself, for that matter. Of course, every musician is going to have good performances and not-so-good performances, but it honestly felt like one of the worst performances I’ve ever had. With all the progress I’ve made and what I know I’m now capable of, that obviously can’t be true, but that’s how upset I was with my performance. 

While I know that these reactions are to be anticipated after a sub-par performance, I also know that they are WILDLY counterproductive. Okay, so I didn’t play as well as I could have. What am I going to do about it, sit around all day avoiding the problem while watching Law and Order and eating chocolate? Actually, I would love to do that… But I won’t. Or, I could make excuses for why it didn’t go well, like “I was last on the program so I wasn’t warmed up,” or “I had a challenging year, I was burnt out, and couldn’t pull myself together.” Both of which are somewhat true, but I can’t go back and change my performance. What I can do to move on is look at what to do differently now that I have a whole summer to practice and a light academic workload next year.

So, I have two “challenges” I’m going to put into effect this summer. The goal as of now is to rethink how I use scales and Sevcik exercises, not just to improve my technique, which is a given, but to help me become more relaxed. Normally, I would never put “Sevcik” and “relaxed” in the same sentence (let alone the same paragraph) but hear me out. I feel like my approach toward learning music has taken a turn from being too relaxed, like it was before college, to being too analytical. I feel like I’m in a mechanical mindset, mostly when I play from memory. I have all these things I want to do musically, but I don’t think they come out as easily as they could because I become too concerned with deconstructing the music as I’m playing it. Hopefully, doing these exercises in addition to my octaves, arpeggios, etc. will be both effective and interesting, and easy to stick to. Spoiler: I’m actually a five-year-old that makes up practicing games:

1) Scale “MASH” Make a list with three columns: 1. All Major Scales, 2. All Minor Scales, 3. Metronome Markings and Bow Strokes/Articulations. Pick 3 from each scale column and 6 articulations to warm up with (one for each). Repeat for each practice session.

2) Sevcik From A Hat – (Not to be confused with the more entertaining “Scenes from a Hat” of Whose Line is it Anyway) Write down all key signatures on slips of paper. Pick one exercise from each book per day. Pick 3-4 keys out of a container at random and play each exercise in all of them.

As with any typical workout plan, I’d hope that these exercises will become necessary in order for me to feel like I’ve accomplished something on any given day. So in a sense, I am also trying to build a better practice routine to become accustomed to.

For updates on this challenge and for posts on my overall Aspen experience, please check the “My Summer Blog” page. If I do happen to think of any more exercises or goals to work on, I will be posting about them! For now, I’m excited to start my new violin workout regimen 😉



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