These great little exercises came about when one of our London learners kept running out of practice time each week … his crazy-busy job in the City of London meant that he barely had any time left for daily practice and so he’d try to cram everything in at the weekend …
It’s always better to practise ‘little and often’ rather than in one big chunk. That way you’ll remember what you learn much more easily – and you’ll be able to build habits more quickly and effectively. So we persuaded our learner to put aside 5 minutes a day – literally, just 5 minutes! – for daily practice, instead of trying to do everything in one go at the weekend.
To make things as easy as possible, we created a series of ‘5 Minute Workouts’ so that he didn’t have to think about what to practise. Each day, he’d just take one of these workouts, and play it slowly and carefully, either until he got to the end … or until 5 minutes were up!
Having plenty of variety in your practice is sooo very important. It’s tempting to just repeat the same one or two (maybe three!) things every time you practise, day after day, week after week (month after month!). This means that you’ll only be focusing on the challenges contained within those few things. And that’s why we think it’s sooo very important to do something different, something new, every time you practise!
This could be a new scale and arpeggio, a new exercise, a new piece of sight-reading, maybe a spot of improvisation, or performing some old repertoire to your cat!
Or, you could spend just five minutes on one of our Workouts!
Because variety in practice is so important, each Workout covers a different skill – different finger patterns, bowing patterns, rhythms, keys, techniques and so on.
This way you are guaranteed to be doing something new in every practice session.
Time for a quick workout?
Each of these useful ‘5 Minute Workouts’ will get your left hand muscles warmed up and ready to play – and they’re really useful for increasing the flexibility of your left hand too.
Just choose one to start with, and set your timer for 5 minutes.
Begin by repeating each one slowly and carefully, making sure that everything is in time and in tune, and that you’re playing with a good sound.
Once you’re confident that everything’s working well, try speeding the patterns up to faster tempos!
A great principle for effective practice is to break down what you’re working on according to these three steps:
ISOLATE – LOOP – EVOLVE
1) Isolate – Rather than constantly playing through large chunks of music, isolate only the part of the music that needs attention. If a workout contains one difficult pattern and several easier patterns (for example), then stop and work slowly on the difficult pattern – don’t just play through the whole sequence over and over again!
2) Loop – Every time you practise, ‘loop’ each line (repeat it continuously) for about a minute, making it a little bit better every time you play it. Try to improve it with every loop – think about sound, intonation, pulse, rhythm, posture, bow division, etc., etc. – whilst you are looping! First of all, play the exercise really slowly, and then gradually speed it up.
3) Evolve – As you repeat, Try each Workout at different dynamics too.
Whatever you do, always aim to play musically and with a beautiful sound.
Have a great workout!