I don’t eat animals. So why am I telling you to try cold turkey?
The concept of “cold turkey” does not translate well into other languages, so let’s first define what this figure of speech means.

Google defines it thus: “in a sudden and abrupt manner”. “Cold Turkey” means you are going to do something suddenly, abruptly, without warning, and without easing into it. You might quit smoking “cold turkey”.

As violinists, we need to implement “cold turkey” into our practice habits. Too many of us allow ourselves 3 or more tries to get a passage correct. We play it once, flub it up. We play it again, maybe slower, and maybe we get it right. We play it again, faster, and hopefully we get it right. But have we really learned that passage? Not at all! That passage will not stand up in performance because we have trained ourselves to need 3 tries to nail it!

It’s fine in the learning process to give ourselves several tries in hard passages….but we MUST make the transition from multiple tries to nailing the passage on the first shot. So, once you have a passage learned, walk away from it or practice something different for awhile. Then, give yourself the “Cold Turkey” test: Go back to the previous passage and see if you can nail it on ths spot, without any practice runs. If you can’t, then you are not ready for prime time.

Fix the passage, then walk away AGAIN or practice something else for awhile. Then, go back again and try the problem spot a little slower this time…..slow enough that you KNOW you can get it on the first try. Then, go ahead and work it up to full speed. Walk away. Come back and try it a little faster, but nail it on the first try. This type of practice is the ONLY thing that will truly prepare you for a good, consistent performance.

Even if you don’t plan to perform your piece, it is a crucial part of violin practice to learn to nail things on the first try, “cold turkey”–even if you are vegetarian!