Learning any musical instrument is difficult, and finding the motivation to practice violin can be tricky for so many different reasons, like being busy at work or feeling unhappy with your playing.
I’m here to help you through all stages of learning the violin. Losing motivation is something musicians of all levels struggle with, and I have much advice and quite a few tricks up my sleeve to combat it!
How Can I Motivate Myself to Practice?
Practicing can be such a rewarding experience, but sometimes we just don’t want to (or even can’t) practice.
There are so many different reasons why you might be lacking the motivation to practice your violin. Let’s talk through the possible reasons why, and how to overcome them and actually start playing.
If you don’t have enough time
Some of us lead very busy lives, between a full-time job, a family, and with everything else going on, practicing the violin doesn’t always come first. Here are a few ways to motivate yourself and prioritize practicing even on your busy days.
Schedule your practice sessions ahead of time
Start by finding 10-minute chunks in your schedule. Choose one of those chunks to use as a practice session and write it in your calendar! You might think that 10 minutes isn’t nearly enough time to practice, but try it. If you know you only have 10 minutes, you’ll be very focused, and actually get a lot accomplished!
Scheduling your practice time can give you something to look forward to, especially if you work a stressful job. You know your violin will be there waiting for you at practice time.
You also might find yourself getting more serious about practicing. When it’s written on your calendar or in a planner, you’re much more likely to actually commit to it – it’s almost a requirement. You’ll start to prioritize it more and more, and eventually, you may find yourself able to schedule longer sessions.
Try shorter practice sessions
A lot of us feel very defeated when we know we just don’t have time to practice for at least an hour. That type of thinking can keep you from practicing at all when you don’t have a lot of time.
In practicing an instrument, we should value quality over quantity. A very focused, but short session is much more effective than a long but aimless one.
Use your small chunks of time wisely. Any amount of time spent playing will help you become a better musician and advance toward your goals!
If you don’t know what to practice
Sometimes you might feel stumped because there’s so much to work on. Here’s how you can overcome this:
Create a practice plan
To make the most of your practice time, plan what you’ll work on ahead of time!
Creating your personal practice plan
Then, divide your practice time into chunks focusing on one of those concepts at a time.
If you’re new to planning your practice, download my free practice plan to get started! Simply fill in what you’d like to accomplish, and then, as you practice, mark off the dates you worked on each concept.
Fillable Practice Plan [PDF]
Practice planning tips
A good practice plan should work with you to achieve your goals, no matter how large or small they may be. If you have a large goal; for example, learning vibrato; break it down into smaller, more accomplishable steps. Add those smaller steps to your practice plan, and eventually, you will have learned vibrato!
Planning your practice before you even pick up your instrument can help you avoid wasting time wondering what exactly to work on. Starting your practice plan from nothing can be quite difficult, but after a few sessions, you’ll start to see what the next steps are in your progression, and you can base your plan on those steps.
Also, if you write down exactly what you’d like to accomplish in a practice session, you’re much more likely to hold yourself accountable and focus through the session to accomplish your goal.
If you’d like to get more help with planning your practice, make sure to check out what is Practice Smarter.
Find a piece of music you’d really like to learn
If nothing you’re currently working on is inspiring you, listen to other violin music. Explore different styles and types of music. When you find something that you really enjoy and seems within your grasp, start learning it!
Having a piece that you’re really inspired to learn can help motivate you to practice the violin. Here are a few lists of violin music I really enjoy:
If you put off practicing because you think you’ll sound bad
Can I tell you a secret? No one sounds perfect when they practice, even professional musicians!
The point of practicing
The point of practicing is not to sound good right away. Everyone starts out sounding kind of bad, but the reason why we practice an instrument is to get better. We all work our ways up to sounding beautiful!
Everyone, at every level of playing the violin, is critical of how they play and can find many flaws. Just because you hear mistakes and wish you could sound better does not make you bad at playing the violin. It’s actually great that you hear the mistakes because that means you can complete the next step: fixing them.
Change your focus
It’s very easy for any of us to feel negative while practicing when we aren’t hearing the sounds we want to achieve. Try to reframe the way you approach practicing and how you evaluate yourself.
Instead of saying “I want to become the world’s best violinist,” ask yourself, “what sounds do I want to create?” Exploring and being creative on the violin is a much more fun and achievable goal than becoming the greatest violinist, which, for most violinists, is nearly impossible.
If you don’t like practicing
Actually enjoying the act of practicing can be difficult for any person. While we love playing the violin, some of us hate practicing because we’re working through difficult passages and there’s much repetition to build muscle memory.
Let’s talk through some ways you can make practicing more enjoyable.
Play the violin for fun
Instead of focusing on practicing to get better, try just playing music for fun. See if you can enjoy the violin as you used to before practicing became frustrating.
What do you love about the violin? What kind of music do you like to play the most? Start adding these elements that you love into your daily practice to stay motivated.
Listen to violin music
When it feels impossible to start practicing because you dislike it, try listening to violin music you enjoy. Whether it’s classical music, folk music, or any other genre, hearing someone else play the violin can inspire you to pick up your own instrument.
Create long-term goals
Think about exactly what you’d like to accomplish someday. Is there a tune you’ve always wanted to learn? Would you like to join an ensemble with friends? Whatever your desire is, make it into a long-term goal. Each practice session will help you advance to achieve those goals.
Knowing you’re working towards something truly exciting can really boost your motivation to practice.
If you just don’t feel like playing
Sometimes we just lack the motivation to play the violin at all. This can be a difficult situation because you know you need to keep developing your skills and making progress, but you’re just not in the mood. Here are some ways I combat this feeling.
I love seeing other musicians share their practice and progress online. It’s a wonderful community to be a part of! Seeing other violinists having fun can quite literally “influence” you to pick up your instrument as well.
Following other violinists who are learning similar material to you can help keep you motivated and making progress. It’s also a great way to make friends!
Btw, if you haven’t already, subscribe to my YouTube channel Violinspiration!
Listen to the music you’re learning
Listen specifically to the music you’re working on. A great way to practice music without even touching your instrument is to listen to multiple recordings of whatever you’re working on and compare them.
What do you like about each recording? What don’t you like? Is there one style of playing that you prefer? Do you hear any differences in dynamics or specific notes?
Listening to or even watching videos of other violinists performing the music you’re learning is a great way to learn the music and come up with your own artistic choices.
Create a practice space you love
It’s extremely helpful to have a dedicated space to practice the violin. Whether you have a full room or a corner of your bedroom or living room, make it lively and dedicated to your craft.
If practicing feels lonely
Maybe you just feel lonely when you practice. It can be a very isolating experience, working in a room with just yourself and your violin, evaluating everything you do on your own. Here are some ways to feel a little less alone.
Make friends with other violinists
Find others who are also learning the violin. You can join forums and groups on social media, and maybe even find a local community that organizes e.g. jam sessions.
Along with a supportive community group, my school Julia’s Violin Academy is a great way to meet other like-minded beginner violinists! Click here if you’d like to learn more about the Academy and request your invite!
Create a practice group
Once you’ve found others with similar practicing goals, create a group chat together for motivation. Some people do this for working out – they’ll create a group chat, and share with the others when they’re working out, and what they accomplished. Try this, but with practicing the violin!
Let everyone else know when you’re practicing. When you’re finished, let them know how it went. What did you accomplish? Was there anything that frustrated you?
This is also a great place to ask questions and learn from others, in addition to just getting practice motivation.
Hold group practice sessions
Along with a group chat, you can also hold group practice times. Using Zoom or Skype, organize a meeting where everyone stays muted, but practices. Just seeing others working at the same time as you can keep you from getting too distracted or discouraged.
You can even agree to take breaks at the same time, and talk either about how your practicing is going, or you could just talk about anything other than music, to give your brain a break.
If you’re a member of Julia’s Violin Academy, you can just head on to the Events section and check when is the next practice sprint. Join the sprint, practice at the same time as others, and share & celebrate your accomplishments with the participants!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you make practicing violin fun?
Sometimes practicing feels boring. Finding a way to remind yourself why you enjoy playing can make practicing more rewarding. Listen to violin music you love, or try to play just for fun. Then add those elements into your daily practice. Reminding yourself why you love music can make a huge difference.
If you struggle to feel joy when you practice the violin, check out this video:
How many hours a week should I practice violin?
The amount of time you should spend practicing the violin each week depends on your current level and the type of progress you’d like to make. The amount of time spent practicing can vary widely between two different musicians.
How long you “should” practice the violin depends a lot on how long you’ve been learning the instrument, and what your stamina is like.
If you’re very new to the violin, then your stamina will be rather low. Start with 15 minutes of daily practice. It takes time for your body to adjust to the feeling of playing the violin, and all the new concepts you’re learning can feel overwhelming!
If you’re very busy, start with practicing for 5 minutes a day. Consistency is key, and any time you play the violin, you’ll build your knowledge and stamina!
In this video, I share how I structure a short practice session:
Once your body has become familiarized with the violin, you can start practicing in longer bursts.
Try working your way up from 15 minutes to 30- or 40-minute long sessions. This longer chunk of time will help you focus on more concepts each day. You might find yourself making progress faster than before!
For the more advanced learners, try practicing for an hour each day (or a bit more if you’re ready for it). It’s completely okay to break up your practice session into smaller chunks! Use your practice plan to divvy out time for each concept or piece of music you’d like to work on.
Then, you can either practice a chunk at a time throughout the day, or you could practice a chunk, take a short break, then move on to the next chunk, and so forth.
When you’re practicing for a longer period of time, remember to stay focused. Aimless practice for 1 hour is less effective than focused, deliberate practice for 30 minutes.
How can I practice violin better?
Knowing exactly what you should work on to achieve your unique goals, and staying focused are the best ways to practice the violin. Distractions like a cell phone or others in the same room can be a detriment to your practice. Try to find an isolated space with no distractions, and keep your goal in mind.
No matter why you may not feel motivated to practice your violin, there are ways to overcome it and enjoy practicing again. I hope these tips were helpful for you, and that you now feel fully engaged to work toward your violin goals.
Fillable Practice Plan [PDF]