by Adam R Sweet
It's absolutely critical that you practice at least something every day! What you practice is also critical. Just playing a few tunes, or jamming with friends is only one part of daily practice (the fun part!).
Divide your practice time into three "chunks" of equal length. That means, if you practice 30 minutes a day, each chunk will be 10 minutes.
First Chunk: A Daily Scale "Set"
- each day play a different scale set from the circle of fifths (if you're practicing bluegrass music), otherwise a different tonic set using the 7 church modes
- practice 2 octaves, use 4th fingers always
- remember where to shift when playing in 3rd and 4th positions
- fiddlers: practice the 4 bowing patterns with each scale
- mandolinists: practice the 5 picking patterns with each scale
- circle of fifths: practice the major AND the relative minor with each set
- modes: practice all 7 modes
- practice the arpeggios for each scale (1,3,5,8)
Second Chunk: New Material
- Sight read assigned new material
- Practice first measure, slowly, without ornamentation or bowing until you have the notes down, then go on to 2nd, 3rd, 4th measures
- After you have the measures well established, add any ornamentation and bowings as indicated in the sheet music or by your instructor
- Don't try to learn the whole piece in one "chunk". It's better to master one 4 bar phrase than to play the whole piece poorly
Third Chunk: Review & Sight Reading