Warm Down and reflection
It is essential to complete your practice with a warm down. Just like athletes after an intense training or a race, musicians too need to relieve the tension from their body and mind. When the main phase of practice is completed, it is good to give yourself some time to play a slow and calm piece of music. After that and when the tension drops and you feel relatively calm, do some stretches like the ones you did in the warm-up. If you have time also do some breathing exercises or a few minutes of meditation. When the warm down is completed it is very important to reflect on your practicing. Ask yourself which of the goals you had set were accomplished and which need more work. Did you prioritize the issues you initially decided to work on? What could you have done differently? Did your strategy to achieve your practice goals worked or should you try a different strategy next time? The answers to these questions will help you shape your next practice session so that you can achieve better results and in the course of time to improve your playing.
As an epilogue to this series of articles about effective practice I would like to point out the following: Every musician should realise that if we wish to improve our performance, we should first improve the way we practise. This can be done through engaging in strict but fair self-criticism after each practice session and by enhancing our knowledge about violin technique and practice strategies through books or other sources written on these specific topics. We could also consider the advice and ideas on practice offered by colleagues and teachers, experiment with these ideas but ultimately keep what really works for us. And we should be prepared to reject every idea that doesn’t prove to be effective even if this comes from a famous teacher or soloist.
I hope that this series of articles was helpful and inspiring. More blogs on different aspects of practice will follow as instrumental practice is a rather complex subject.
Until then, practice well.