Back in my childhood days, my parents would always tell me to practice the piano. However, I never exactly knew what to practice, when to practice, or how long to practice. Nor did they have answers for me. So I went through years of experimenting to find the right piano practice duration. Now, I would love to share some valuable insights about practice time.
At String Soul, most of our parents reach out with questions along these lines.
How long should I make my child practice?
There isn’t an exact figure that I can provide to answer this question. Many factors can contribute to different focus levels in a child. Nevertheless, the lengths of these practices usually have connections to ages and stages. Let’s break it down.
Piano Practice for Beginner Students (15 minutes- 30 minutes)
If your young child has recently started the piano, a duration of 15-30 minutes is recommended. This is because beginner learning materials are simpler and shorter in time. They are usually repetitive and under a minute. They will be able to cover the majority of practice materials in 15 minutes if undistracted. If a child finds it harder to focus, stretching up to 30 minutes will give buffer time.
Another factor that weighs into practice time is strength and stamina. Beginners have less finger strength and muscle development. Stretching out too much practice can cause strain or burnout. Additionally, they may end up over-practicing bad habits, which are hard to correct. Hence the solution, short sessions in frequent repetition.
Our older beginners can stretch 20-30 minutes of practice time. Children of these ages have stronger finger development. If we have teens, young adults, or adult beginners, 30 minutes of practice can yield good results. Longer sessions are great for building knowledge and stamina. Quicker progress will also be rewarding and helpful to keep adults on track!
All in, beginners will often enjoy 15-30 minutes of supervised practice 3-5 times a week. Then, they can further explore musical knowledge through reading books or watching educational videos. This will help them grow their musical interest and enrich their creativity.
Piano Practice for Intermediate Students (30 minutes – 1 hour)
If your child has learned music for a couple of years, chances are they fall in this category. These include students who are preparing for examination boards or casual performances. These students practice developing their technical skills. Additionally, they also need to develop musicianship skills. Hence, subjects like scales, sight-reading, aural work, and music theory will take more time. Thus, longer practices are prime to accommodate their needs.
In this category, consistent practice is key for yielding great results. Frequent practices will help them see good progress in technique and musicality. If your child’s time blocks in longer durations, you can opt for 1-hour practices 3-5 times a week. If your child’s time blocks only allow a shorter duration, you can opt for 30-minute practices 4-6 times a week. Make sure to fix practice time in the child’s schedule instead and make it a habit. Valuing their practice time is very important to keep them motivated.
If you don’t know how to keep them motivated, explore our guide on encouraging musical students!
Piano Practice for Advance Students (1 hour – 2 hours)
When it comes to advance students, many will be conscious about their practice times. A consistent 1-2 hours daily will allow for thorough practices. Some children find it beneficial to break down their practices into smaller chunks. Some children enjoy long practice sessions with high focus and productivity.
At this stage, children are focusing on detailed practices. Their pieces are longer and require more finger dexterity. They will struggle through difficult passages here and there. Hence, they will have to develop various new approaches to train their techniques.
In cases like that, parents can help supper their practice with a designated space. Please make sure they can practice for a long duration without feeling sluggish. Distractions must also be minimal. Loud background noises will distract their concentration on sound and musical interpretation.
How do I know if it is sufficient?
Practice time is sufficient if your child is consistent. It is more crucial to maintain consistency than to find the exact amount of practice time needed. Strive to find a practice style and duration that will suit their schedules. Observe their progress during lessons, or consult their teachers on their performance. If they are happy and motivated, they’re on the right track!
To encourage practices, parents can provide support by double-checking their practice sessions. This can mean marking down the pages or setting books up for their practices sessions. Some need reminders for their theory homework or frequent checks on sitting postures. Over time, our children will build good practice habits that motivate and ease their practices. Good practice habits really help make the most out of practice times.
Will they progress faster with longer practice time?
In most cases, no. Forcing a beginner to play for two hours will not yield significant benefits. To illustrate my point, the duration of school lessons increases through stages, right? Kindergarten stage, primary stage, secondary stage, and tertiary stage.
However, in special cases where children are highly motivated, it could. It does speed up their progress gradually but consistently. These are great for children who would love to practice on their own accord. You can encourage this behavior by building a consistent routine.
Adjust their practice duration alongside their muscle development, comprehension growth, and focusing abilities. This is better than using a timer and counting down the end to another chore-like practice. It takes time to try a practice routine, understand it, review it, and refine it. All in, practice durations should increase gradually without forceful methods for it to be effective!