Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How Much and How Often Should I Practice?

      Good question. This is a question that students, parents and teachers struggle to answer. And, of course, there are many stances on this issue, some of these stances make sense and other do not make sense.

I will not evaluate other stances here, but I will give you mine. Here is the way that I think about it: age, level, goals. I use these three categories to decide how long and how often someone needs to practice. For instance, a five year old (age) that’s just started (level) and whose parents want him to get a good well-rounded education (goals) will practice differently than a seventeen-year old that is in the top orchestra at school that’s interested to keep it as an extra-curricular activity while in college.
Whatever your age, level and goals, it is best to strive for consistency and realistic goals in practicing your music.  Realistic goals are crucial because many people make drastic changes in their practicing that do not last long, so they get discouraged, feel like failures and practice less or give up. Therefore, it is better to start where you are and take one step up from there.

So here are some general guidelines:

1. Days per Week: No matter the age, level and goals start with practicing 3 days a week. Commit to that and you if you get some weeks where you practice a day or two more, that’s good! After a month, you are ready to push for 4 days and so forth.

2. Minutes per Day: Start out with 10 – 15 minutes at a time.  Cover all the material and exercises that your teacher assigned to you.  Get consistent at this for a month, then push for 20 minutes.  If your son or daughter is 4-8 years of age, you may need to patient because 10-15 minutes per day maybe the most they can do with you for a few months.  Eventually, you will be at a level that will require 30 minutes up to 1. 5 hours.  This of course is after a few years of lessons and practicing consistently less time.

As you are working on your consistency and regularity of practice, remember that the quality of time (efficiency, concentration, and expressiveness) is just as important as the quantity of time that you practice.  Always seek to enjoy your practicing, it’s time well spent!

Copyright © 2013 Mircea & Daniyela Ionescu. All rights reserved.

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