So Hilary Hahn practised for 100 days

So Hilary Hahn practised for 100 days


norman lebrecht

November 06, 2017

The US violinist is making a bit of a thing about having practised for 100 consecutive days.

Hahn finished a project in mid-August that was all about practice—100 days of practice in a row, in fact. The idea came from a global Instagram project (designated by the #100days hashtag) that had been mainly, until that point, undertaken by visual artists. “The concept of the project was to show your process,” Hahn says. “You don’t have to worry about the result; it doesn’t have to be in great shape. You can show working on the same piece of art—you do a little bit of coloring one day, you spend 100 days on the same thing, or you could do sketches every day.” She wondered if there was something she could do for 100 days that would reveal something about her own artistic process. “So it just occurred to me: What do I do every day anyway? I practice.”

And just like that, she had committed to practicing (and posting practice videos to Instagram via her handle @violincase) for 100 days in a row (more here).

Big deal?

Every creative person does what he or she does every day of their lives. Painters paint. Singers sing. Writers write.

I have worked on a book on vacation, in a plane, between business meetings, at boring social functions, four hours after coming round from major abdominal surgery.

It’s what we do. Keep up the craft. Keep the fingers supple and the mind in gear.

No biggie.




  • Andy says:

    I read one interview with Heifetz where he said he definitely had every Sunday off and didn’t practice at all. Perhaps he was fibbing, or perhaps he didn’t do it ‘every day of his life’.

    • NYMike says:

      During Heifetz’s touring career, he took one month off annually.

    • Tom says:

      On a perhaps related topic, are there any musicologists or others out there who can explain why much music was published in sets of 6? I’m thinking from baroque chamber music through to Beethoven Op. 18, mainly 18th century.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Gennady Rhodeshventsky (?sp) once told me he only ever rehearsed an orchestra for 45 minutes. Don’t know if that was true.

  • Tom Moore says:

    I will go out on a limb here and say that whatever HH’s good qualities are, she is not overburdened with, let us say, intellectual curiosity. Try reading her blog, for example, and see what gems of insight she has to share.

    • Scott says:

      She has the intellectual curiosity to commission new pieces. She has the intellectual curiosity to do rarely performed pieces by composers such as Spohr and Paganini. She has the intellectual curiosity to write about the pieces she plays. She has the intellectual curiosity to interview composers and performers.

  • Steven Holloway says:

    What Hahn did is by no stretch typical of what practicing musicians do, and therein is the interest. Practicing a musical instrument, especially in preparation for a performance, is a touch different from writing a book, and I must think that writing a book while recovering from major surgery may lead to, um, problems. But it may be done. Practicing the violin or any instrument is very unlikely to be. At any rate, the practicing habits of musicians very enormously — Solomon practiced some twelve hours a day in pursuit of the music’s essence, Bolet said he never practiced, though he added that he didn’t expect people to believe that. And between those poles, a great gamut of habits from one hour a day to eight hours, most during the day, some at night. Put this information together with the execution in concert, and from that may come insights re the musician’s approach to his or her instrument and to interpretation, how much prepared, how much spontaneity. Far more interesting than what writers get up to and, it is to be hoped, far better in result than many of the books we are inundated with. And that is why musicians are often asked about how they practice in interviews.

  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    “If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.”
    Attributed to Jascha Heifetz

  • Julian Reynolds says:

    ==Solomon practiced some twelve hours a day in pursuit of the music’s essence

    Solomon’s obsessive practice and heavy smoking led to a stroke at quite an early age. He should have relaxed more.

    • Steven Holloway says:

      A simplistic and somewhat callous throwaway comment. Read Solo, Bryan Crimp’s biography of Solomon, and you will find a far more complex story that I suspect makes many readers weep. That does require a certain degree of sensitivity, of course.

      • Sue says:

        I wonder if it’s still available. What is the title of the book please?

        • Steven Holloway says:

          The title is ‘Solo The Biography of Solomon’ Author is Bryan Crimp. Appian Publications and Recordings. It is to be found on Amazon, Ebay, Abebooks, and perhaps other sites. I’m not sure if items can still be ordered direct from Appian, as they once were, but their website will tell you. Good luck.

  • MTC says:

    You’ve completely missed the point of HH’s 100 days, which was not so much to commit to practising (duh), but more to document the process and many different ways in which one can do so. Many of my instrumental students have been really inspired by HH’s instagram blog, and as a result have usefully reassessed the ways in which they practise. And have made some great progress as a result. Which IS quite a biggy, in fact.