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Tips & Tricks – Starting from the End When Practicing the Violin

January 11th, 2016 by Katherine Moller

backwards-1015491_1920There is an intrinsic flaw with the way that many of us practice.  We tend to start at the beginning, play until we make a mistake, go back to the beginning and start again.  We do this over and over!  Does this sound familiar?

So, what is the problem?  Well, by practicing this way, you know the beginning really well, but do not learn the ending to the same degree.  The best way to counteract this is to start at the end and work your way back to the beginning.  You can start with the last phrase, the last eight bars, or whatever works as a natural point to start.  Once you have worked on this last section, add on the section prior to that.  I like to play all the way to the end of the piece each time, unless there is a specific problem spot that I need to fix.  Continue adding sections on until you reach the beginning of the piece and play all the way through.

My students at the high school always know what is coming when we work on the last eight bars of a piece of music and joke about this technique however, it has 2 advantages:

  1. You will end the piece well.  The fact of the matter is that a strong ending is important.  Ideally you want to be able to play every part of the piece well, but the ending is the last thing your audience will hear, so even if you make mistakes in the middle of the piece, if you end strong, they will leave feeling good about your performance.
  2. You will be able to start your piece from any point.  I have seen students who only ever start at the beginning who are incapable of starting part way through.  This is not efficient for practicing, but also will make it more difficult to pick up from the middle should you run into a snag during a performance.  Being able to play well from beginning to end is one skill, but being able to get yourself back in gear in the middle of the piece is another.

Happy practicing!

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