How much is too much practice..?

said: Jul 31, 2006
 20 posts

Probably another silly question from me, but here goes: I find myself enjoying the violin much more than I initially thought I would, and I am now practicing 3-4 hours a day because of it. Is this too much? Is there any point to this? I really feel that I’ve gotten much better lately, and that everything is coming along nicely due to my incessant practice, (I’m now on the great piece of music called “Gavotte” by J.B. Lully—which seems a lot easier than the previous one, “Gavotte from Mignon”—should it be?) but I have a feeling it may be too much? That I’m not gaining anything beyond a certain point of my sessions.. I hear most kids practice half an hour a day. I’ve also heard that beyond 15 mins you cannot maintain your concentration, rendering all further practice meaningless.. So, how much is too much? :) Thanks again!

Corinne said: Aug 1, 2006
 44 posts

I’m not a violinist, but I’ve been told it’s not a good idea to practice for more than 2-3 hours at a time for ergonomic reasons. I don’t see a problem with practicing a total of several hours a day, as long as you break it up a bit. With that amount of practice, though, I would look into getting some input from a teacher, to make sure you aren’t practicing with bad habits that could lead to injury.

Kirsten said: Aug 1, 2006
 103 posts

I agree with Rynna about not tiring yourself too much physically. When it hurts or when you get sore you should stop.

Mentally, only you can really know if you are able to concentrate for more than 15 minutes at a time. Many people can focus easily for an hour or even three hours with very good concentration.

Who ever gave you the advise about the 15 minutes is probably a sprint runner like me, but may not be at all like you. If you really concentrate well for long periods, go for it. Suzuki said in Nurtured by Love: “Practicing according to the correct method and practicing as much as possible is the way to acquire ability.” pg 97


said: Aug 2, 2006
 10 posts

Be very careful when practicing so much. Be sure that you are very relaxed for the whole practice time and if you feel yourself tensing up, stop for a few minutes to relax and shake it off. Especially on stringed instruments, the hand position makes us as players especially vulnerable to conditions that result from over use of the hands and wrists. I have a friend who developed tendonitis in her wrists (a bass player) from practicing too much and, as a result, she was not able to practice at all for almost a month.

Take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to let what you have learned during practice times sink in a little before starting up again.

I just wish I had your kind of self motivation!

said: Aug 2, 2006
 20 posts

Thanks for your replies! Valuable advice. I will take it slower and let things sink in. Gonna practice an hour a day for a week now and see where that takes me. I have gone way past the point of soreness before and I think that’s probably a bad sign. I’m getting old (25) so I need more practice to “get there”, but I hope to be able to get to grade 8 by next year. Probably a difficult goal, but I’ll try my best :) I’m not a quitter! Thanks again guys.

Jennifer Visick said: Aug 2, 2006
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1072 posts

You may want to check out a couple of books or articles which treat musicians as “athletes”—especially if you find yourself getting sore from over-practicing. Preventing injury by altering your posture, practice time, and etc., is MUCH better than having to stop playing because you’re injured.

Generally speaking, if you’re going to practice a lot, you should also be doing some warming up and gentle stretching before you “get into” intense practice, and it doesn’t hurt to “cool down” and do stretching after your “workout” on your instrument too. Try gentle stretches for the muscles you use the most—upper back, shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, neck, etc.

I’ve seen a few articles in past ASJ (american suzuki journal) and ASTA (american string teacher’s association) Journal issues regarding taking care of the health of your body when you play. There’s also lots of good books —

try: “How Muscles Learn:Teaching the Violin with the Body in Mind” by Susan Kempter

or: “Playing (less) Hurt” by Janet Horvath (I think)

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