What Should be on my Practice Stand?

    Which assignments you should be practicing from day to day may seem like a mystery.  If you focus on only one piece, you may forget the ones you worked so hard on before that.  A lack of preparation may extend your study of a piece by two to three weeks and make every moment frustrating to endure.  Breaking up your priorities into five distinct categories makes the learning process both efficient and enjoyable!

Scales - Juilliard, a famous arts school in NYC, recommends that 60% of your total practice time be spent on scales.  With 24 different keys in one to three octaves, there is more than enough variety to fill up your scale practice time!  If you’re still looking for more ways to spice up your scale work, you can always practice them in broken and solid 3rds, 6ths & octaves, as well as arpeggios, and of course all sorts of different styles of bowing patterns!

A Piece or Etude at Your Level - You should always have one piece on your practice stand that is challenging, but not intimidating.  The majority of the piece should consist of techniques that you have already learned in the past with one to two brand-new ideas or concepts.  Often, a mirror is a great tool when learning such pieces since the work is almost entirely technical.

A Piece or Etude Ready to be Refined - This is a piece that you have already learned all of the technical aspects to and are now ready to focus on more musical issues like phrasing, style, ensemble, and expression.  This piece is perfect for a recording device as it will give you insight into how your interpretation is living up to your expectations.

A Piece or Etude Beyond Your Level - This piece will initially seem intimidating and unfamiliar as you begin to make sense of the various aspects or techniques that are involved.  Slow practice is essential here, as is listening to a variety of good recordings and studying the score.

A Piece or Etude Ready for Memorization - This piece has been completely mastered both technically and musically.  There should be no undesirable habits that would make embedding them into your muscle memory detrimental.