Thursday, March 3, 2011

How much should I practice?

Practicing is necessary to master any skill, especially a musical instrument. The amount of time one practices per day and per week is dependent several factors including teacher expectations, student age, student skill level, parent involvement, lesson frequency, and the difficulty level of the music. Routines play a vital role as they establish a time for daily practice. I have organized practice into School-Age and Adult Students.

General Guide - read below for explanation

  • Preschool-Early Elementary - 10 minutes, twice a day
  • Beginner/Upper Elementary - 15-30 minutes a day
  • Intermediate/Middle School - 30-45 minutes a day
  • Advanced/High School - 45+ minutes a day

School-Age Students

Preschool and early elementary students typically view practice as playtime. Encouraging children to "go practice" alone at this age is an unreasonable expectation. Besides, two people make a better playtime! How early should students start playing (See bottom of FAQ)? They should show interest in their instrument, be able to focus on the instrument during lessons and at-home practice. You need to know your child and understand the parental requirement involved with young students. A reasonable expectation is 5-10 minutes of practice, two times a day.

Upper elementary and middle school students are typically offered band and string classes in their schools. 4th-8th grade students are more independent and will require less parent involvement.

Parents should be involved in:
  • Establishing and maintaining daily practice routines (same as homework)
  • Maintaining the student's music schedule including school practice days, lesson days, and concerts
  • Making sure the student has necessary supplies for school, lessons, and concerts
  • Giving positive support and encouragement at their wonderful achievement!

It is reasonable to expect 15-30 minutes of daily practice from 4th-6th grade students. Middle school students should attain 30-45 minutes of daily practice.

High school students can be expected to practice 45-60 minutes of daily practice. Music is challenging, expectations are higher, and students are capable of thorough, independent work.

Adult Students

Adult students can use the above times as a guide. However, total time is based upon individual skill level,  time available for practice, and interests. I offer these situations as actual examples of adult students.

Student A travels frequently for work, but wished to continue their study of violin. We schedule lessons when Student A is in town, typically 1-2 lesson per month. Lessons are 30 minutes in length.

Student B plays with a local band. Student B wanted to learn American Fiddle to expand their band's repertoire. Student B takes weekly 45 minute lessons, chooses specific music to learn, and practices 30-60 minutes a day.

Student C chose to perform a violin concerto. Student C chose the concerto and had weekly lessons for one year prior to the performance. Lessons were 60 minutes long. Following the performance, Student C retired from playing violin.

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