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non consistent practices = quit?

January 21, 2009 at 12:48 AM


first of all, I wish everyone a nice "Obama" day! I am really happy for the USA and the world!

I just wanted to comment a little on what a great cello teacher said (I took this sentence from Pauline's blog on adult students that is really good by the way if you haven't seen it!)

The cello teacher said:

Ms. Cullen says that a major reason that her adult beginners are early quitters is that they can not manage to practice consistently.

I know that consistent practice is what creates motivation and brings the student to a good level etc... But many persons just don't have the perfect life to play violin. It's sad but true.  Does having a "non suited for violin" life makes that one will quit the violin?  I know that my teacher told me that the students that were studying (college and university) in something else than music often quited because they lacked time.  I am now in this period of my life myself and I admit it is so frustrating to miss time and to play awfully on some weeks because of this but would I quit? NEVER! Yes, I get discuraged and even phoned my teacher this week to ask her if she thinks it worths it, talk about my worries concerning this situation, my fear of loosing it all forever and stop to make progress etc.  She told me that it was normal to have the impression to do very poor practices and playing when you are exhausted by your day at school and homework, to feel like if you were under drug effect when you play, thus to have a very bad violin "life" during this period of my life.  But, she is categorical on something, QUITTING IS NOT THE SOLUTION AND WILL ONLY MAKE THE PROBLEM WORST BECAUSE IT WILL BE 90% HARDER TO START OVER. I am too convinced of this even if it is terrible and maybe to painful for some persons to stand this "bad period" temporarly. 

I was just curious about knowing the opinion of violin teachers on this: what would you say to loaded people (with school or work) that are not able to practice well or much but who want to play more consistently when they will have more time?  Do you also think that it is better to maybe play awfully and miss time but to not stop even if it is psychologically difficult to see yourself playing like this?  Do you think that to stop completely will only worsen the problem?  Itzakh Perlman said it was like bicycle but I think the dammage is bigger if you are 10 without violin than bicycle when you start over! :)

Did your loaded students or workers all quited?  Please say no or I will be so discouraged! just kiding, tell the truth!

Have a nice day!


From Mendy Smith
Posted on January 21, 2009 at 4:39 AM

 I think it may be more due to the quality of the time available to study.  My teacher does not expect as much advancement from me as his other students who have more time to study, however, I find enough time each week so that I do advance, albeit slower.  

I re-started when my schedule was the fullest, however I still managed to find a few minutes each day for practice.  It has now become a relaxation routine for me after work.

I guess I fall into one of those minority categories.  No matter how crazy my schedule becomes, I always find at least 30min - 1 hour of my time each day to practice. I've been able to maintain a consistent practice routine for over 5 years now with a full work schedule.

From Tess Z
Posted on January 21, 2009 at 5:31 AM

Hang in there, Anne-Marie.  We all get busy in our lives and we don't practice as much as we would like to and then we slow progress down.  But then, life will turn a corner and you're able to practice more.  It's a cycle that constantly changes.  We have to realize that we can't practice two hours every day for the rest of our lives because life happens and other things take precedence over music practice.  I think it comes down to badly do you want to learn to play well?  Some weeks I make little progress because I can't practice very much but I would never give it up.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on January 21, 2009 at 5:47 AM

I agree with Tess Z:  Hang in there!  You've got to deal with this mentally by accepting that your violin practice time is limited and your progress will be slowed by that.  Set your goals more realistically.  Do what you can with your violin  while you're in school and know that your practice time will increase and your playing will improve more quickly later.  It sounds like your teacher is supportive, and that is a big help.  Don't give up what you love entirely.  Just stick with it and do what you can while you're in school.  Best wishes and good luck.

P.S.  Take a look at my website,, especially my pages on teaching violin and teaching adult beginners.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on January 21, 2009 at 12:25 PM

I had a friend in high school whose violin teacher advised her to quit violin because she was so overloaded with other activities.  She was at her violin lesson in her field hockey uniform at the time, and told me about it the next day.  She was hurt by the suggestion.  She didn't listen, stuck with the violin, and played in college.  I've lost touch with her now so I don't know if she still plays, but I think what she did by sticking with it, even (or especially) in the face of a discouraging teacher, was admirable. 

I did quit for a while, during the whole time I was in graduate school and beyond (8 years), and don't really regret it.  When I started playing again it took me about 6 months to get back to where I had been, technically.  And the break seemed to have helped me overcome my stage fright and general anxiety around the violin.  So while I support sticking with it under these circumstances, I also don't think that a break is fatal, and could even be beneficial.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 21, 2009 at 3:52 PM

You are all right! Thanks, I'm happy to see that many people share similar experiences and that a loaded person doesn't systematically quit!  I also think that in the study period, you have to do what you can but after in your life, if violin is a priority, it should be possible to make more "place" for it.  If think that after school, you are a little more free do do decisions like: less over-time to practice more at home but less income or choosing if you want to do your "social" in an orchestra instead of a bar... lol! 

It's interesting to read your comments!


From Jasmine Reese
Posted on January 21, 2009 at 7:12 PM

Remember, it's not about how much you practice; it's about how you practice when you practice.


Quality versus Quantity.


If teachers taught adult beginners how to practice instead of focusing on the quantity or consistency of it, maybe not as many adult beginners would drop out of it so soon.  

I am happy to say that several of my adult students are happy and challenged and never have any of the problems Ms. Cullen brought out because I treat all of my students as if they had some special hidden talent that needs to discovered.  I give each student a challenging lesson, so that they don't feel the need to want to rush on to something else.  And I don't inhibit my adult students.  If they want to learn the Brahms, I might arranged a small part of of the concerto to make it easier or bring it down to their level, so that they fill somewhat fulfilled.  I never tell a student "no," "hold on," "slow down," or "wait" because for an adult who feels life is too short, those can be very discouraging statements.  Instead, we compromise.  I make them arrangements, and they play what they want even though it's not the original.  

I think if teachers treated their adult students the same way they treated a child learner, then there would be more successful late starters.   Of course, adult problems get in the way more than a child's problems, but that's why the tools we provide for children and the tools we provide for adults should differ but contain the same value as it would for a child.  

Of course that's my opinion, but I have seen it work as well.  

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 22, 2009 at 12:33 AM

That's really interesting, Jasmine!


From Bart Meijer
Posted on January 23, 2009 at 7:57 AM

I'd love to see that Brahms arrangement, Jasmine!

From Jasmine Reese
Posted on January 24, 2009 at 4:30 AM

Oh gosh!  I gave that to her like two years ago, and it was a small section in the 3rd movement.  I will try to find it and put it in Finale and then send it to you.



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