Somewhere between pregnancy and new motherhood, I managed to spend the years 2004 – 2007 *not* progressing past the first piece in Suzuki Book 5– the Bach Gavotte.
It turns out that when 15 minutes is a “good practice day”, a sort of gradual regression in performance ability sets in. While a student in Book 1 could survive on 15 minutes of daily practice, (all the pieces in the book can be played in 20 minutes and even 5 minutes can go a long way toward working on something like Perpetual Motion) a student beginning Book 5 is lucky to get their bow rosined and their tonalization / shifting work done in that time frame.
My focus shifted from trying to advance to the next piece to simple damage control. At a low-point in my practice, I spent lesson times discussing various technique books I purchased in hopes of becoming a good “Suzuki parent” for my son. My playing suffered, but I started to acquire some decent materials for our ‘music library’ which gave me some better perspective on things to come. Looking back at those times, it’s easy to be discouraged at how much progress I didn’t make, but I try to stay focused on the fact I didn’t give up. (It helps that I had an understanding violin teacher who was willing to stick with me.)
As adults (who are not professional musicians), we have responsibilities that often conflict with learning to play our instrument: jobs, relationships, children, aged parents – the list goes on. Sometimes it *isn’t* possible to block out hour(s) of practice with regularity. When crises or opportunities happen, the choice can always be made: give up or ride it out. I’m very glad I chose the latter.