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Laurie Niles weekend vote: What is the best time of day to practice?

November 5, 2010 at 8:26 PM

I usually encourage my students to practice in the morning, before school. That way, they hit the violin when they are fresh, and practice is already finished just as the day begins.

Of course, this is not possible for some people. When kids get older, school starts earlier. If school starts at 7:15, it may be very difficult to get up early enough to practice, especially for a teenager.

Adults -- whether they are students, amateurs or professionals -- also have to fit practicing into their life's schedule. If you work a 9 to 5 job, that doesn't leave a lot of time for practicing. One can practice at the lunch hour, but then what about lunch?

To be effective, practice should take place every day. People who practice every day get the best advantage and enjoyment from playing. So where do you fit it in? Please share any tips or experience you have on scheduling your practice.


From Janis Cortese
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 8:38 PM

Evenings during the week by necessity, and I dislike it.  All day long on the weekends.  I just open the case and keep it open from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, and woodshed on it in chunks all day.

From Susan Young
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 9:21 PM

I don't keep my violin in a case.  It hangs on the wall in full sight of my computer desk.  Very easy to pick up and play when I have a few minutes.  The evenings are when I practice though.  I would prefer mornings but life is too busy for that luxury.  My husband is learning the guitar so we keep to the same routine.  It makes life easier when you both have the same hobby!

From Erin Rushforth
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 9:23 PM

In theory, I prefer morning, but in practice (pun intended!), I find that later in the evening is when I want to get out my instrument. This is the joy of living in a house; I can practice from 10 - 11:30 pm and not worry about disturbing any neighbors! My kids, amazingly, can sleep through it.

From Michael Divino
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 9:40 PM

 The best time is when I don't have the time to!!!! I would like to practice more during the day but it's hard to with classes and work. 

From Manuel Tabora
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 9:52 PM

Mornings work best for me, but I'm a morning person in general. I go to bed early, get up super early, and practice for two or three hours before my first rehearsal or class. By the time I get to that first rehearsal or class, I am in good shape to play and my mind is also alert and focused, so I like to do it this way.

From Eloise Garland
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 10:08 PM

 As I wrote in this blog, there are many ways I try to practice. When voting I had a bit of trouble deciding which one was the best out of the 3! So I just settled for afternoon to go in the middle! 

The morning gives time to get your fingers warmed up before getting on with the day. It is also useful for getting you up for the day. I generally practice scales and arpeggios in the morning to get my fingers going! 

The afternoon is good for practising because you're more awake and your fingers have warmed up throughout the day (unless it has been really cold!!) It is the time that I can get the best out of my vibrato and general playing and I can use the afternoons to my advantage to get some intense practice into the day. 

The evenings are good for just pleasure playing I find. It is nice to just pick up your violin and unwind in the evenings. Intense practice has already been done and it is time for the fun part! In the evenings, I can do whatever I want without worrying about perfecting something, unless, of course, I would really love to perfect a new piece.

So my own personal conclusion is all times of the day are great practice times! Practising throughout the day keeps me engaged in the playing and provides several opportunities to incorporate scales and arpeggios, warm ups, exercises, intense practice and fun into the day!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 10:59 PM

 10:45-11:30 pm.  I wouldn't say it's the best time.  It's just the only time.  I.  Have.

From Jim Hastings
Posted on November 5, 2010 at 11:58 PM

I voted EVENING, although my practice routine is about 90 minutes in the afternoon and 90 minutes in the evening.

I, too, am a morning person; my day begins at 4:40 am -- no connection with A-440 -- just the way it works out.  I went into business for myself in 1996.  I spend 7:30-12:30 in the office.  Then I hit the gym for an hour to get out of solitary confinement.  Then comes afternoon practice.  I have to allow for extra time, because, during afternoons, I still have to answer the phone, take on an emergency rush job, or call a customer back.

One thing that helps me be consistent is to pick a definite time and stick to it: "I will be at practice by _____."

What if I don't feel like it?  I go ahead and do it anyway -- and keep doing it -- till I do feel like it.  Just as I got hooked on practicing and playing as a kid beginner, I'm hooked now -- I don't want to stop.  But 4:40 am comes fast; so around 8:30 pm, I have to wrap up.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 2:04 AM

 I'm in the same boat with Janice.  Monday through Friday I practice after I get home from work for an hour at least and a large part of the weekend.  

I have been known to practice at work during an especially long data conversion when there is nothing else to do but keep your eye on the computer screen (yes, IT geek here).  Unfortunately or fortunately, that requires memorizing what I'm practicing since I'm watching a computer monitor and can't look at sheet music.

From elise stanley
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 7:38 AM

Morning-ish.  I'm an am person - but first thing is hard to get motivated for.  So I go out for breakfast each day and work on writing for about 2 hrs.  I then come back and practice for an hour before going to the office/lab.  I try to practise again in the evening but I suppose thats about every other day.  then weekends its nice to pick the violin up at any free moment - but time is seasonal there, what with a house and shopping and all....

From Julian Stokes
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 9:44 AM

I voted morning because it is best. But in general I have to practise in the evening as that's the only time I can find a solid chunk of an hour and a half without interruption. I just picked up the fiddle now at 9.30am and rattled of a couple of scales and was amazed at how much better playing/intonation is when you're not exhausted. At the moment my life is throwing me a great deal of exhaustion. I might try more coffee.

From Laurie Trlak
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Morning is definitely it for me, because that's when I have all my energy, and when I have the most time, but then I'm just a "morning person" anyway (something my kids find hard to understand).

From Marsha Weaver
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 12:30 PM

My best practice sessions are usually in the morning, but I most often have to schedule practice for early evening.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 5:25 PM

I've always been a "night owl" and for as long as I can remember, my best work is done in the evening/night hours - whether school or university essays, research projects, writing or indeed violin practising and playing.   Being able to play or work at  2 or 3am is brilliant for me!

I do think that people have a certain individual natural "body rhythm" that it is best to follow in order to maximise personal results.   For sure, if I was restricted to practising first thing in the morning, I know I wouldn't enjoy the violin as much as I do.  It simply isn't MY time of day!   I was the student who had to be thrown out the practice rooms when the janitor came around to lock up at night!!  (Have to confess to a few times when I just hid in the dark til he'd gone and then spent the whole night playing away, sneaking out to bed when the building was opened in the morning!  

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on November 6, 2010 at 6:02 PM

I'm another night Owl...  I am so stiff in the morning and my hands are even more freezing than usual at morning.  I often have violin lessons on mornings and they are not my best.   Ideally, I would give anything to practice all day long but as a university student in a non-musical field, it's impossible.  Though I start to find ways to integrate more violin practices in my life (really any time of the day though I prefer evenings and nights).  I do scales in my appartment because they are not much noise and the concertos and studies that do make more noise are done at home. It's not perfect but I'm sure it's better than no playing at all... 


From Nicole Stacy
Posted on November 7, 2010 at 4:13 AM

Heh...left to my own devices, I prefer not to see two nines in one day.  The world does not always accomodate.  :)

From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on November 8, 2010 at 11:53 AM

I actually get up at 5:00 a.m. to practice before I start work every day.  For about a year, my violin was x-rayed each day by security.  Now, I'm just waved through.  Then I practice on my lunch hour.  I'm just not an evening person, unfortunately.  I turn into a pumpkin around 9:00 p.m.

Weekends, though I still practice early although it depends on what I have going on.

---Ann Marie

From Pierre Holstein
Posted on November 10, 2010 at 2:29 AM

Great Blog,

I'd have to say that all three work in different ways for me. I'll get great calm productive and pedagogical practice early in the morning before rehearsals, great run through repertoire practice in the afternoons and the best memorization practice in the evening just before bed. I prefer to leave my instrument out as often as possible and pick it up as often as possible even if just for 10 minutes :-) 


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