Write Practice Journal to Practice Healthier

Violinist may experiences pain in neck, arm, or back because of long period of practicing. Especially when practicing by ourself, the long and restless practice happens when there is no practice plans. This is why writing practice journal is essential for healthy and efficient practice.

For me, the key of healthy and efficient practice is making targets smaller and detail. With this is mind, we will practice in less time because of smaller targets but more efficient because we practice in more detail. But of course, we will need more practice sessions. I once talk with American violist, Michael Hall. He suggested to make a session of practice consists of only three goals, with each goal is a specific thing and not too difficult to achieve. 

For example if we’re practicing orchestral excepts, goals for a sessions would be:

  1. Make staccato short in bar 24-28
  2. Phrasing in bar 80-88
  3. Practice the difficult passage from bar 127 with M. M. = 68

By writing them in our journal, we make ourself to focus on goals and it means practicing in less time. By making each goal detail, we raise awareness in both technical and musical aspects. And by making each goal not too difficult means less frustration.

If there are many things to practice it’s always better to make each practice session short but greater number of sessions. It helps me to be more focus on goals, more details in both technique and music, less frustrating while it also allows me to take more break.

Break between sessions is an ‘active’ break. It should be spent for writing review of the last session then writing goals for the next session. Also to avoid stiffness and injury, doing a short stretching will be helpful. So the break is essential in planning the practice and allows our body to be more relax and ready doing next session of practice. Don’t forget to take longer break after few sessions.

So, keep a journal is important not only to achieve better and faster result, but also keep our body in good condition. Happy journaling!

Violinist’s Concert Outfit

Playing in a symphony orchestra is an energy consuming work. A concert program of an overture piece, a concerto, an orchestra piece, and a symphony takes two hours long. It requires all players to have good endurance and concentration. 

Although it’s true that playing violin is also a matter of endurance, but for me, violinist’s concert outfit is something need to take care of. Female orchestra member are usually free to choose their own black dress. They can choose any type to suit their need, at least for both comfortability and stylistics. But male players usually can wear only white shirt and suit. When it comes to endurance, suit which is not comfortable will unnecessarily consume more energy.

After experiencing such thing, I thought about a suit and shirt design that allow violinist and violist to move more freely.

Actually there are people who already started to make special suit and tux for musician. For example flextux. And coregami, a very hi-tech shirt and tux.

Of course those are very good but for me they aren’t affordable and difficult to buy from Indonesia (not so many people here in my town have credit cards or any other online payment things).

The Suit

Cloth fold: playing violin require you to move your arm and raise elbow a lot. It will pull the cloth from your back. To solve this, after a discussion with a local tailor who tailored my suit, we decide to make a cloth fold in the center of the back. So arms can move more freely without restriction from the suit. It’s similar with what flextux guy did, but different design. My tailor said he ever made such fold back in 1980s.

 

Collar: space between collars must be wide enough so they aren’t climbing your neck. This way we can place violin as close as possible to the neck. For me place the violin as close as possible to the neck is important. 

Sleeve: although a suit is slimfit, the sleeves should not be too tight. They must let the arm to move freely.

Shoulder pad: it’s better to use thinner shoulder pad. 

Fabric: my tailor use a fabric which is able to stretch. Also make sure the fabric is not heavy.

The Shirt 

Collar: wings collar works better. The spread collar will make the collar thicker so it will add more space between neck and violin.

Cloth fold on the back: It’s important for arm movement. I asked my tailor to make this fold bigger than usual shirt.

Cuff: it doesn’t matter french or other styles. Make sure they’re wide enough so they don’t restrict arm movement. Also sleeves must be long enough. Too short sleeve will bother arm movement.

Fabric: I used common fabric for shirt. Use anything as long as it’s comfortable.

I wore this set of outfit for Bandung Philharmonic concert on April and recital on May and felt happy that it worked fine.

Photo by Lucky S. Putra

If you’re experiencing similar problem, hope this article helpful. Or even if you have any other ideas, please let me know!

Edukasi

Richard Matthew Stallman yang seorang atheist mendirikan proyek GNU sekitar tahun 1980an. Dia bukan cuma ingin membuat sistem operasi yang secara teknis canggih, tapi lebih dari itu, dia ingin membantu orang lain agar bisa menggunakan komputer dengan bebas, tanpa tekanan perusahaan manapun, tanpa ikatan lisensi yang merugikan. Dia programmer hebat, belajarnya saja di kampus MIT. Tapi di luar kemampuan teknisnya sebagai programmer, ia juga punya keinginan berbuat baik, terutama lewat kemampuan programming-nya.

Sinichi Suzuki, seorang pendidik musik yang terkenal dengan Suzuki Method-nya. Bukan hanya mengajarkan teknik bermain biola, tapi juga mengajarkan pada murid-muridnya untuk mendengar. Tidak hanya mendengar musik, tapi mendengar keluhan orang lain bahkan sebelum orang lain menyampaikan keluhannya. Dari belajar biola, murid-muridnya juga diajari banyak hal tentang menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik.

Kalau pengalaman saya, bermain biola lebih banyak mengajarkan saya menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik daripada belajar tentang teknik ketika kuliah HAHAHA. Maksud tulisan ini bukan itu kok.

Maksud saya, apapun bidang yang kita tekuni semestinya menjadikan diri kita menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik. Setidaknya kita tidak jadi sombong ketika belajar, karena kita kemudian tau bahwa lebih banyak hal yang belum kita kuasai.

Buat apa dong kita gunakan banyak waktu, tenaga, pikiran, harta untuk kuliah misalnya, tapi kuliah tidak menjadikan budi pekerti kita menjadi lebih baik.

Kita tidak mau juga kan setelah belajar dan punya ketrampilan kemudian menggunakannya untuk tujuan yang tidak baik.

Atau kalau perlu, kata-katanya dibalik: jika ingin menjadi pembelajar yang baik harus punya pribadi yang baik. Pembentukan pribadi yang baik juga perlu belajar. Ya apapun yang dipelajari.

Bingung deh saya kata-kata ga jelas begini haha.

Jadi semuanya bermula dari belajar apapun yang muaranya suatu ketrampilan yang baik dan budi pekerti yang baik.

Misalnya ingin jadi pemain biola yang hebat, maka harus belajar dan berlatih sampai menguasai teknik bermain biola, sekaligus melatih diri menjadi pribadi yang lebih baik. Karena memang harus begitu, seperti kata Sinichi Suzuki:

From a beautiful heart comes beautiful tones