The Latvian violinist, whose American Concertos CD is reviewed in our January issue, shares her wisdom

Baiba Skride

Baiba Skride

1. Make time for thinking

For me it’s very important to study away from my instrument; to listen to the music I’m playing and to read the scores. Just having whatever piece I’m playing constantly in my head: this is how I find my interpretation.


2. Repeat, repeat and repeat

Playing difficult passages at different tempi and using different rhythms is something I do all the time. I also do the thing of starting with a slow speed on the metronome and then gradually increasing the tempo.


3. Don’t forget the scales

It sounds very boring but for keeping your fingers in shape there’s nothing better than scale practice. It really speeds up the process when you come to learning a difficult passage in a concerto and it frees up your mind. I like to assign a different key to different days; you end up in some strange places like D flat minor, but even that will come in useful in certain pieces of music.


4. Don’t underestimate the value of open string practice

This is a great way to clean up your right arm, so I try to do it every couple of days. It enables you to hear everything that is going wrong with your bowing, which is such a difficult thing to train. And it trains your patience too.


5. Record yourself playing

This is very painful, and of course when you listen to yourself you analyse every single note and don’t necessarily see the bigger picture. Still, it allows you to take a step back and look at yourself from the outside.


Read our review of Baiba Skride’s American Concertos CD.