Greetings!  I know I haven’t written in a while.   I’ve been busy with teaching, orchestras, accompanying, and oh yes, there’s life outside of music too! 

In fact, I have had so much music to learn and play lately, that it’s become overwhelming at times.  Sometimes I have so much to do that I don’t know where to start and end up wasting time and not getting much done.  

When I discussed this with my teacher, she suggested the 5 minute rule.  Set a timer and focus on the parts that need the work for only 5 minutes, then go to the next piece.  Well, 5 minutes FLIES by, so I decided that I’d have the 10 minute rule.  This is really a great idea.  It forces you to focus.  You can’t waste your time playing just the “easy parts” and you really work the hard parts.  

As an example, I have this part in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor: 

It’s the 1/8 notes, of course, and while they aren’t difficult to play, take into consideration that it’s in 2 rather than 4, and 1/2 note=100.  SO it’s quite quick!  I use a variety of methods to increase my speed.  (1) play 4 notes fast, count to 4, then play the next 4;                                                                                             

(2) play with different rhythms;

(3) Play 2 notes fast, then add 2 notes.  Play the next 2 and add 2.  Play all together and keep growing.

Believe me, 10 minutes of this intense work is plenty. If I can get this to 100, I’m happy! (I’m at 80 now, so we have a long way to go!)

Then I’m on to my next challenge- and since I only have 10 minutes, I have to get down to work fast.  I use Alexa to set the timer and I plan what I need to work on before I start.  I still take breaks after 30 minutes, but I find this to be more productive and I actually can measure some progress.

Would love to hear how you deal with time constraints!  We all have them.  Thanks!

3 thoughts on “10 Minute Rule

  1. THANK YOU for reminding me of this. It works well.

    I knew about is but have neglected it recently. I subscribe to Dr Noa Kagyama’s email where some time ago I read the piece linked to below, where he discusses a 3 minute rule similar to what you mention here, but with added ideas that have helped me a lot. I use atime between 5 and 10 minutes, then change pieces.

    Dr. Kageyama started violin at age 2, and he went to Juilliard. At Juilliard he discovered sport psychology – which totally changed his playing and opened his eyes to a whole new world to explore. After graduation, he put violin down his violin to get a Ph.D. in psychology. Now, he is back at Juilliard, but on the faculty, where he teaches musicians how to utilize the same skills and techniques that elite athletes have used for decades.

    I’ll post the email address and how to subscribe later.

  2. I found one other note by Dr Kageyama note that appears to be apropos. He says a some light exercise after practicing pays dividends in recall. I’m adding that in hand written notes to my printout of your remarks here.

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