I play the violin and have always practiced for at least 3 hours a week. The thing is, I don't think I need that much practice. What are some ways I can identify if I'm practicing in the Most effective and correct way? What are common practicing issues that students have while playing the violin that I can start identifying when I do them?
The "most effective and correct way" is the way that brings out the music. It's a bit different for everyone. Don't ever get the idea that you will first learn the notes and then breathe the music into it. The worst thing that you can do is to get so involved in the technical details of a passage that you lose sight of the music it's intended to convey. You will practice that colorlessness into the passage, and it will be very hard to put the color back in.
It's very important to keep in the front of your mind, while practicing, that any technique is a means to express a musical idea. Of course, you need to practice scales and arpeggios, but only because they occur frequently in music. If you can't practice a scale as if it were a piece of music (which of course it is), then you need to go meditate, or take a walk, or whatever, until you can.
So, always improve your ability to express your understanding of the music you're learning. Always. If that is always the focus of your practice (even when doing exercises), then you will be practicing in the most effective and correct way. For to express your understanding of the music is your ultimate goal. If you find that you are losing sight of the music, go do something else until you are ready to bring your mind back to the task.
Anyway, that's my two cents. I know Liszt was said to practice finger exercises while reading a book, and he was a much greater pianist than I will ever be. But I suspect that he never lost sight of the music in the exercises, no matter what else he was doing at the time. A guy who could take an orchestral score that he had never seen, and arrange it flawlessly on the piano on the fly, probably had a sense of the music in whatever he was playing that was so innate that the music would come out of him even if he were paying attention to something else.
Good warm up routine will give great dividends. I would go as far as to say the more time you put into the warm up routine the better the quality of the practicing will be.
This should include some metronome work and the usual suspects of scales arpeggio and the like. There should also be some sort of finger exercises as well. Maybe someone who actually plays the violin can tell you more about those but definitely put time into the warm up.
That is rather universal among musicians.
I play the violin and have always practiced for at least 3 hours a week. The thing is, I don't think I need that much practice.
It really depends on what you're trying to accomplish. For example, if you enjoy playing in a college or community orchestra that rehearses once or twice a week, unless the conductor chooses something really difficult like Richard Strauss or the last movement of Tchaikovsky's Fourth, I can certainly imagine you having a good experience practicing less than three hours a week.
However, let's imagine that you are preparing for something more intense, such as a quartet recital, an audition, or a concerto competition. In such a case, three hours a week would probably not be enough for you to feel satisfied with your efforts.
What are some ways I can identify if I'm practicing in the Most effective and correct way? What are common practicing issues that students have while playing the violin that I can start identifying when I do them?
I have seen my children (violists) waste inordinate amounts of time doing mindless run-throughs. I think that's the most common way to send time ineffectively in the practice room.
In terms of warm-up -- an effective warm-up can be done in ten minutes. Here's one good warm-up routine:
do a trill in slow motion, speeding up by steps (feeling the weight of the arm in the lower note)
do some slow position changes (up and then down), in a variety of intervals, including some octave shifts
warm up the bow arm by playing some long notes on open strings, looking for an even tone throughout; expand this to some string crossings (feeling good posture, relaxed shoulder, perhaps checking for straight bow and posture with a mirror)
a couple of scales, starting slowly, then increasing the number of notes per bow, for fluency
Now that you're warmed up, depending on how much time you have, you can
work on an étude
perhaps play some double stop scales
work on a sonata or concerto
prepare some spots for some chamber music you'll be playing with some people soon
play some Bach
put in some fingerings in your orchestra music
memorize a section of something
review one or two pieces from your repertoire
I want to suggest that you read from the bulletproof musician online. http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/ I subscribe to emails from them and they often have helpful things to say about practicing effectively.
However, if you want to be a big soloist one day you need to practice more. Three hours a week really doesn't do it. Some people practice up to 8 hours a day. I read once that after 2 hours you're not very effective but it really depends on the person. I personally practice 1-2 hours a day and I am at college as a violin performance major and I have a CD on iTunes but I am not good enough to become a soloist. So at this point I'm thinking about trying to go to grad school and become a violin teacher and a writer on the side.
This article should be very helpful to you on how to practice: http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/how-many-hours-a-day-should-you-practice/