Finding Time to Practice

Here is a very real post about being mama and a fiddler. At. The. Same. Time. Which begs the question: "People, can we have it all?" I know that we are taught from a young age that we CAN INDEED have it all, but I have found that this is only true if we can find some effective strategies to support our goals. My children are soon to be 3 and 5 years old, and I am only just now finding my way through the morass of my time versus their timetheir time versus our time, plus work, meals and meal planning, and the myriad of other things that are important, but that are still not PRACTICE TIME. 

How do we get any better without some dedicated time each week to lovingly cradle our fiddles and slay some scales? The short answer is, we don't. In fact, it's possible to regress to the point that the super easy one octave A Major Scale that you were playing a few months ago now sounds a bit pitchy. When you get to this point, it's hard to work through the pain of regression and press on to the land of clean tone and brilliant intonation. In fact, it's much easier to place your instrument back in its case (now streaked with tears, if you're me - too much information?), place it in the back of your closet, and forget about it for another few weeks (or months). But friends, please don't do this. You can do this! Here are some tips to get you through the busy times, whether your busy comes from kids, work, the holidays, and the millions of other reasons we put our instruments down and don't pick them up again. 

Tip #1: Some things can be practiced anywhere. Take the bow hold for example. You can practice this on the steering wheel on your way to work, on a pencil or pen while you are writing your grocery list, even on the lip of the kitchen counter! If you are just starting your journey with the violin or fiddle, this tip is golden. 

Tip # 2: Listening is almost as good as practicing. What are you learning or refining? Make sure you have it accessible in your car or on your workout mix, or wherever you listen to music. If you can spend some time actively engaged with the music you are working on, you are absorbing the rhythms, tempo, nuances and facilitating the remembering of the melody. Not only will this will serve you well when you have a few moments to practice, but it will likely inspire you to make time for practicing at the first opportunity. A double win.

Tip # 3: Leave your instrument out where you will see it. The old adage is SO true: a fiddle that is out of sight is also likely out of mind. If you are able to hang your fiddle on the wall, place it on the piano, or keep it up on a high shelf, you are more likely to take it down and play it for 5 or 10 minutes here or there, several times per week. In fact, if you are a TV watcher, you can keep your bow on the coffee table and practice your bow hold exercises during commercials. A bit here and a bit there adds up - trust me. Remember to always loosen your bow when you are finished though, as leaving it tight can cause the stick to warp over time. 

What are your tips for finding some time to practice? I'd love to hear from you!

Yours in music,