The first week went okay. I enjoyed having a plan again, although it was a little discouraging to realize that my 90 minute practice days were my high points. Last time I used this book with any regularity, I was posting 4-6 hour days. Oh, I miss summer camp...
Last week, however, was awful. My car broke down on Monday. I pulled a muscle in my leg during a softball game, which made it so I couldn't put weight on it for a few days. I found out that the rehearsal for a gig I was playing was on Wednesday, not Thursday which meant I had to reschedule private lessons AND a group class. I had a horrible fight with my mother. And another horrible fight with my boyfriend. And at the end of this week, I had to update my practice log with a record that I would certainly lecture a student about: a week of straight 0's on the practice record.
It was humbling, looking at that row of 0's. I have a master's degree, for crying out loud. I get paid to tell students to practice on a daily basis! It's not that I didn't play violin last week. I play in my students' lessons to demonstrate. And I played around 12-13 hours for that gig, plus a few minutes of looking over the tricky spots. But I didn't practice. I didn't have that time by myself to really focus on my own goals and improving my technique. And boy, am I feeling it this week.
Here's the lesson to be learned, both for me and for everyone: Life never gets less crazy. This week is better. The fights are resolved. I have a new car. My leg is better. I'm not playing a gig. BUT, one of my friends needs relationship advice. I lost a morning of practice because my bow was being rehaired. I started rewatching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which are a bad, bad addiction of mine. I have meetings at work, and summer lessons to schedule.
If you really want to progress at the violin, you have to find a way to put in the time. Every day. Consistent practice. And you have to find the time. At every stage of life, there are distractions and legitimately important other things that will require your time and attention. The people who really succeed at violin are the ones who ask "When am I going to practice today?" not "Am I going to practice today?" I guarantee you that if you really try, you can find 20 minutes to play violin. Wake up 20 minutes earlier. Use your study hall period to practice. Watch one less episode of your latest tv show. Take a break from homework and practice then. Stay up a little later at night. If you want to be good at violin, you'll find a way - because there is no other way.
I have some very specific goals for my own playing. I don't play nearly as well as I want to. There are technical things that need to be fixed. There are literally hundreds of pieces I want to learn. I know that my progress has slowed down a ton since I left school and my practice time got shrunk down to 25% of what it used to be - things like commuting, working, and teaching have eaten up my time. But I'm still working, and I know that whatever consistent practice I can put in will eventually get me there.
So, you have to ask yourself: How badly do you want this? Do you really want to get to the point where your intonation is solid, or you can use any bow division without thinking about it? Are you really willing to put in the work it will take to get to the next level in your school orchestra, or even just to master your current piece so you can start playing something new?
If the answer is yes, then it's time to go practice. Which is what I'll hopefully be doing, even if it's at 10 pm tonight.