Often the parents of my students ask me how to get their children to practice more. One parent once said to me “My daughter always plays the piano when she walks by, but rarely picks up her violin unless she is reminded.” One of the best ways to encouraging practice is to make it easy and to make sure your child’s violin is visible. This works for adults too!
I recently read an article about making the habit of starting, an idea that works well with practicing. The article is a great read, and the gist of it is that you should focus on getting started with whatever it is you want to do. If you want to run a half marathon, focus on tying your shoes and getting out the door… This idea works really well for practicing! I know from personal experience that sometimes you have the time, it is just the inclination to practice that is missing.
So why is that? Sometimes you are comfortable and happily occupied, and sometimes it just seems like too much effort to get your instrument ready. What is the solution? There is no easy solution to the first other than just getting started. For the second, you can try to make it as easy as possible. I like to leave my violin out on a violin stand so that I don’t have to open my case, put my shoulder rest on and get out my bow. I know that it doesn’t sound like much to do, but sometimes it can be enough of an excuse for you not to practice.
Do you remember the mother I mentioned earlier? Well, the piano was in the dining room, so her daughter saw it all the time when she walked through the room. Her violin was stored in its case under her bed. That meant that she did not see it, so didn’t think of playing it, and when she was reminded she had to go through the effort of getting it out.
The use of violin stands is somewhat controversial because you can regulate the humidity in your case. Ideally you want your violin to remain in a consistent environment. My suggestion though is to make sure that the room where you have your violin stored is not too dry.
My challenge to you is to practice 5 minutes every day for a week. Don’t worry about practicing for 20 minutes, for an hour… Just get started every day! You may very well find out that once you get started you want to keep on going. Please comment below and let me know how this goes!