By Michael John Sanchez

Part of Fiddle For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Practicing isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have the right mind-set in place. If you follow the steps outlined here, you’ll improve both your technical ability and your musical ability.

What to do to prepare for your practice session

  1. Make sure your fiddle is in tune.

  2. Find a place that’s quiet, with no distractions.

  3. Set an amount of time that you’re going to practice and stick to it.

What to do in the first third of your practice session

  1. Choose at least two drills to work on.

  2. Work on drills for five minutes, focusing on repetition.

    Focus on doing the drills properly.

  3. Choose a song that you’d consider to be easy, and try to focus on technique.

    For example, if you’re doing the wrist drill, try to focus on bending your wrist in the easy song.

  4. Pick another song and work on your finger placement.

    You can do this by using a tuner, which will tell you whether you’re placing specific notes in the right spots.

What to do in the second third of your practice session

  1. Choose a harder song to work on.

  2. Focus less on your technique, but anytime you hear an unwanted sound, try to think about why it may have happened.

  3. Identify one or two problem spots in the song and practice these spots over and over until you get them right.

  4. Play the song all the way through to the end.

  5. If you have time, do this process with another song.

What to do in the final third of your practice session

  1. Get into a more musical mind-set.

    This is the time to think less about technique and more about just playing.

  2. Choose a medium to difficult song.

    Focus on the rhythm of the music and the ornamentation. Try not to focus on how you sound but more on whether you’re following the music properly.

  3. Once a week, record yourself playing a song.

    Keep this recording in an archive that you can listen to later. Listen to the recording in three months’ time. Do you see how you’re improving?

  4. Because this area of practice is about musicality, make a goal of playing for at least one other person.

    It doesn’t have to be each day or even each week, but once in a while, playing for someone else will really help improve your playing ability.