Practicing is something that all musicians seeking excellence have to do a lot of. Not only do we have to practice a lot, but we have to learn to do it well. Practicing is an art that I have by no means mastered, but I will share a few of the tricks I have learned over the years.
Tip 1. I know that we all want to sound good in our practice, but if we want to sound good in performance, that is just not realistic. Don’t be afraid to take your piece at an adagio tempo and play each measure 50-100 times to solidify intonation, tone, style, bowing, etc. SLOW PRACTICE IS YOUR FRIEND!
Tip 2. If you are playing a legato/slurred passage, play it short and staccato to hear each individual note better. If your passage is short, staccato, or off the string, play it legato and connected to hear the lines better.
Tip 3. In order to get the intonation to be perfect, you MUST know what note you are aiming for next. Sing the part with difficult intonation as well as play it on the piano. Once you can sing it perfectly, you can play it even better!
Tip 4. String instruments! If you are having difficulty with a string crossing, write down the open string that name that corresponds with the string the notes are on and try that for a while. Once you understand that, play the real version.
Tip 5. String Instruments! For a troublesome shift, take a pause in between the notes where the shift is and as you repeat this, gradually shorten pause.
Tip 6. Play everything in your piece slowly until it is perfect. This may mean spot work, like I explain in the first tip, or playing through the whole page slowly until it’s perfect then move the metronome up a little up and continue in this fashion until you hit perfection at the correct tempo.
Tip 7. Enjoy yourself and remember that the more you practice, the less tedious it will become!