100 Days of Practice with Hilary Hahn


January 8, 2021, 2:33 PM · When violinist Hilary Hahn invited people to join her earlier this week in 100 days of practice, I felt very inspired.

“2020 was a very challenging year for continuity,” she wrote on her Instagram and Facebook pages. “I need to build back, for my violin-muscle health and mental health. The reason is pretty simple: I feel the time has come. This round of 100 days will carry into the spring. It will be my fourth 100 series.”

“When I started the hashtag and project a few years ago,” Hilary wrote, “I invited people to do their own #100daysofpractice, for the process rather than the results. I’m so impressed that 536,000 posts have now been contributed. That speaks to the power of the practicing community. I’m glad that this space allows us to share the true experience. Practice is a universal project, though it often feels solitary. At the end of the day, it is the one sure thing that brings all musicians together in spirit.”

To hear Hilary acknowledging the difficulty of the last year, as well as the need to do some rebuilding, gave me hope.

From looking at social media, I had developed the impression that most musicians across the globe had used their pandemic time to practice long hours, attend intensives and build their chops to heroic proportions.

I can’t say that’s how 2020 went down for me. While I got off to a good start, I had limiting condition called “frozen shoulder” for the last five months of it. Add to that the general upheavals such as having my adult kids at home, teaching through the summer without a break or vacation…It just wasn’t a formula for doing my own personal explorations on the violin, or even simply getting into a consistent practice routine.

As she stated, Hilary has invited people to join her in 100 days of practice on other occasions. As encouragement, she posts daily excerpts from her practice sessions on her Instagram page. And it is indeed encouraging, to see that even a best-of-the-best violinist spends time working on basic finger placement and patterns, repeating just a few measures at a time, playing things under tempo, activating double-stop finger motion, and then shaking out her hands. For example here she is practicing finger patterns, just like the rest of us mortals might do.

So….100 days of practice? Let’s go for it!

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