The best thing that you can do, is to set your practice time first thing in the morning. By doing this, no matter what comes up later in the day, violin practice will be done. I have personally enjoyed being able to devote each morning to practice, typically from about 8:30-9:15, rather than having to rush out the door to get Delaney to school. Understandably, this isn’t possible for every person or every family each day of the week. If you can’t practice first thing in the morning, plan ahead; Is there some other time during the day to fit in at least a good 30 minutes of practice? If not…well… then why not squeeze in a few of these great, quick practice ideas that all take just 5 minutes or less. They don’t require you to play you’re violin so some can even be done in the car and on vacation. All of the items on the list are important exercises in their own right, and should be a part of your practice routine anyway. If all you have is 5 minutes, why not make it count. Throw in one or two anytime you have a minute to spare, for example: waiting for a movie a start? Great! let’s do 5 bunny bowholds. Car ride to Denver? Perfect! Why don’t we put on our Suzuki recording and clap along to the beat or sing the finger numbers. Although these exercises seem simple, they go a long way towards advancing the skills of your student. Pre-twinkle kids – these exercises are essential, and help form the foundation for good playing! Maybe you can fit in a few several times a day and I bet by the end of the day you will have completed 15 – 20 minutes of quality practice. The important thing is to try and do at least something every day, even if it’s only 5 minutes, so that you won’t lose the good practice habits and techniques you've developed over the year. No one likes to start over!
Be sure to let me know your best 5-minute and under practice ideas!
Practice ideas without the bow or violin:
- Pinky to nose – With your violin hand in play position and your nose pointing towards it, bring your pinky straight in to touch your nose. You’re practicing good left hand position and shifting without even using your violin! You are also practicing the proper nose to scroll position.
- Review finger numbers – Hold up your left hand in play position. The parent touches a finger and the student quickly calls out the number for that finger. See how quickly you can call out your finger numbers. Remember, pointer is 1, middle is 2, ring finger is 3 and pinky is 4.
- Ball squeezes – Get a squishy ball and squeeze with your left hand! This builds strength in those violin playing fingers!
- Bunny bow holds - Make these in the car, in the pool or at the lake. They can be made anywhere! Can you turn your bunny into a butterfly by shaking out your hand between each repetition? Do at least 5 repetitions making sure your hand is soft like a marshmallow with your thumb bent and behind the middle fingers.
- Pencil bowhold – Practice making a perfect bowhold with a pencil or a pen.
- Finger taps – Using both hands, bounce each finger on the thumb. Your thumb and finger should make a circle. Start by tapping each finger several times on the thumb then go through each finger one at a time as quickly as you can. 1234 1234. See if you can start on a different finger and go through the same routine quickly. 2341 2341. 3412 3412. 4123 4123.
- Soapy Arm – Practice your twinkle rhythms by doing the soapy arm exercise. Make sure to start at the elbow and go down towards your wrist first.
- Large body rhythms
- V-V Violin
- Sing your pieces – If a student can sing their piece they can play it! E22 311 A123 EEE… All my families who have played Lightly Row know exactly what I’m talking about. How about my Twinkle Theme kids – AA EE 11 E… This is powerful practice when you don’t have time to practice!
- Listen to your recordings! – You cannot listen to your recordings too much! When you don’t have time to practice make sure to still listen to your recordings!
Practice ideas with the bow:
- Bowhold – Practice at least 5 perfect bowholds. There are so many fun bow exercises! Here are a few of the ones we do in lesson:
* Face Circles
* Up like a Rocket!
* Wheels on the bus
* Tall tower
* Bow swings
- Air bow – With you bow out in front of you or on your shoulder, play your Suzuki recordings and bow along with the music. You can really focus on bow distribution and bow hold when you take away the left hand. Is your elbow opening and closing? Remember you can also bow through a toilet paper tube on your shoulder.
Practice ideas with the violin:
- Touch ups – Do at least 5 repetitions. Do you have a straight thumb? Worm hole? Straight wrist or slide for panda?
- Finger taps – Finger taps go such a long way when it comes to intonation and finger dexterity and flexibility. These should be a part of your practice routine everyday so your fingers become stronger and well trained in where to go on the violin. Mid book 1 students can do these on all four strings and be sure to include 4th finger!
- Independent finger taps – Those who have reached Twinkle Theme should also practice their walking fingers. Remember to not lift the old finger off until you have placed the new finger on the fingerboard.
- Elbow swings – For mid book 1 students.
- Shift up/down the finger board – If we haven’t covered this in lesson stick with the pinky to nose exercise.