How much should students practice?

General Guidelines

  • Quality is more important than quality.
  • There is a direct correlation between practice time invested and the skill that is obtained.
  • Most students will resist practicing at times. In my own house we have sometimes experienced tears and drama, procrastination, and avoidance. If children understand through a calm discussion that they will have to practice no matter how much time they spend avoiding it, they do learn that they have more free time and have more fun playing the piano if they simply sit down and get it done.
  • Asking a child to practice when he/she is ill, overtired or quite hungry is not productive and will not result in learning.
  • Some students need a great deal of help from a parent for a number of weeks or months.
  • A consistent routine works the best.
  • Daily practice results in consistent progress, but it is important to have a well balanced life. Days off for school events, sleepovers, family vacations and special events are to be expected and will contribute to a better musical experience.
  • Students who have not practiced all week will greatly benefit from reviewing material and concepts in a lesson, and the lesson often helps reestablish good practicing so we do not skip a lesson in this situation.
  • Students who have a broken arm or similar injury will benefit from learning music theory, composition, and listening skills at a lesson, as well as continuing work with the other hand.
  • If in doubt, call your teacher for suggestions and feedback!

Beginning Students

A minimum of 30 minutes of practice per day is needed for beginners of all ages to make steady progress. Beginners will benefit from breaking up the time, especially young students. Some children are excited about learning and play the piano for 5-10 minutes every time they walk past the piano. Others will not play the piano unless someone sits down with them. All students benefit from developing a consistent routine of sitting down to practice at a regular time or two each day, such as after snack or dinner.

Young beginners need a tremendous amount of practice help from a parent or caregiver. First graders can normally read music more easily than written words, so many need help with written directions. Most young students will play their favorite things if left on their own and then say they are done (and yes, more advanced students have been known to do the same thing). It is the parent’s job to look over the list and help the student learn to pace the practice time to cover the entire list.

It works best a parent observes the lessons for a number of weeks or months, depending on the student. This helps parents to become familiar with what is expected and understand how to approach issues.

Intermediate Students

Intermediate students benefit from practicing a minimum of 45 minutes or an hour per day. As pieces become longer and skills become more challenging, students will see better progress and enjoy a wider selection of music with adequate practice time. Those who have multiple activities and a significant amount of homework may need to adjust lesson schedules during the busiest sports seasons, play or musical shows, and finals.

Advanced Students

Students who are playing advanced repertoire need to practice a minimum of an hour per day. Some students continue to play at the advanced level for their own enjoyment. Those who decide to prepare for college auditions need to prepare well in advance and set aside additional practice time.

Adult Students

Taking piano lessons as an adult can be very rewarding. Some students have not played for many years and want to return to the piano for recreation, and some never had the opportunity to learn and would like to explore something new. Finding time to practice is often a challenge, but some students initially take lessons every week to get started and then settle into lessons every other week. Playing the piano as an adult can be a pleasant diversion and way of relaxing.

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