Maud Powell's Ten Practice Rules
from The American Girl and Her Violin
by Maud Powell
The Etude, July 1909
I. Concentrate. Concentrate your thoughts on your work, completely and absolutely. One hour of absorbed practice is worth forty of the casual sort.
II. Play in tune. The worst of all violinistic crimes is to be untrue to pitch.
III. Practice scales religiously. Play them slowly and with perfect evenness, both as to fingering and bowing.
IV. Practice slowly all difficult or intricate passages; also, jumps, trills, spiccato, staccato, arpeggios, etc.
V. Practice long bows slowly, slowly, slowly. Draw out the tone. Pull it out, spin it, weave it, but never press it out or squeeze the string. By pressing the string with the bow you can check the natural vibration, and without changing the position of the left hand the smallest fraction, you can actually lower the pitch of the note you are producing.
VI. Memorize everything, including scales, etudes, pieces and difficult passages in chamber music.
VII. Keep in mind the structure of the composition while practicing separate phrases, difficult passages, etc. Do not let your playing or your memory become "patchy"--keep each measure mentally in its place; that is, in its correct relation, structurally, to the whole.
VIII. "Vorspielen." This German word means "to play before." Play your studies or pieces over in their entirety before any long-suffering friend who will listen. You will be amazed at the sore spots that will reveal themselves, and will make it your business to heal them as quickly as possible.
IX. Hear other violinists. You will listen in spite of yourself. Then apply that kind of listening to your own work. There will be more surprises in store for you.
X. Love your instrument as yourself. But love your art more than either. Keep the fires of enthusiasm burning. Nothing was ever accomplished without faith and enthusiasm.
A picture of Maud Powell's Ten Practice Rules suitable for framing is now available from The Maud Powell Society in two attractive designs. Click on Publications to view them and order.