William, so well said! You’ve described an ideal way of approaching practice. Fact is, no one can make much progress if they just play through entire pieces without working on the smaller bits. Funny that it takes MOST students years to figure out that practice must involve detail oriented, mentally focused, strategic methods just like yours.
Arlene, I was thinking about your comment about playing violin being ‘so unnatural’ and I suppose you are right in many respects about that. We don’t usually hold things between our shoulders and heads (well…. besides telephones, ha ha ha) but I think we should strive to make the hand positions be in as natural as possible positions, and to function as ‘anatomically’ efficient way as possible. Over lots of years, I have made this a study of sorts. Lots of my colleagues along the way have totally ignored stressing the importance of using the hands and arms and body efficiently. They are only concerned with the notes on the page. I advocate separating the hands during practice at all levels. This is a principle part of my teaching students how to practice. I find that, and memorization, so the student can become aware of what the body is actually doing, are key in becoming comfortable with holding and using the violin and bow.