Practice - How Much Is Enough?

Published on 9 December 2022 at 12:11

For beginner music students, it’s important they get into the habit of playing their instrument every day.  In an ideal world, the student would come home from school by 3:30pm, have some afternoon tea, and get straight into their homework and music practice.  However, I understand very few schedules look like this.   Therefore, I encourage families to take a look at their schedules and actually timetable in their child’s music practice.  For some families, this may mean 10 minutes before school on somedays, and additional sessions on the weekend if afternoons are heavily booked up with other activities.   Yes, practice can happen on weekends!


For busy students, I encourage them to look for those wasted times of day – the extra few minutes they are waiting for dinner to be ready where they could jump on the piano for a few minutes.


My minimum recommendation for beginner students is 5 sessions a week for 5-10 minutes each time.  Once this is in place, students can then either gradually extend their practice time, add more sessions or do a combination of both.


Students working towards exams will be looking at the following minimum practice requirements:

Preliminary – Grade 2 – 20-30 minutes, 5 days a week

Grade 3 – 4 – 30 minutes, 5 days a week

Grade 5 -6 – 45 minutes, 5 days a week.

Grade 7 + - lots!


Some progress can still be made with any amount of practice, however students tend to enjoy their instrument more when they play it regularly (go figure!) as they can see their improvements, they become better at it therefore it becomes more enjoyable and they actually want to practice more!  Those who try to scrape by on 1 or 2 lack-lustre sessions a week will become bored as progress is too slow and they never get past the hard stage.  To those who don’t practice at all…….I ask: “why are you learning an instrument if you never play your instrument?”  


Flexibility is of course necessary, particularly for high school students.  If a solid practice routine is in place, they can afford to cut back practice for a few weeks around exams a few times a year.  When a school camp is coming up, I encourage students to try and do extra practice on the days before or after.


For those students who tell me they don’t have enough time, after assessing their schedule of other ex-curricular activities, I then ask them if they played on the ipad / xbox / watched TV, etc. If the answer is yes, then there was time for some practice. 😊 


Of course, what students actually DO, that is HOW they practice, is often more important that how long they practice for, however that is a topic for another day!

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