|Posted by Eliza Bourgault du Coudray on March 6, 2019 at 1:25 AM|
Some kids willingly go to their instruments and take their own initiative regarding their music practice. For others, practice seems to be a chore, and it is not always easy to get them to play their instrument. As a teacher, I can easily see which students have put in the work over the week, and I can just as easily see when no progress has been made. In this article, I will outline the importance of music practice, provide some general guidelines regarding how long a child should practise their instrument, and finally offer some tips for parents.
First, let me give you an overview of what I mean when I write about practice.
So why is practising important anyway?
As for how long a child should practise, it is unrealistic to expect a definitive answer as it depends on a number of factors, such as the energy levels of the child at the time of practice, when practice is being done, the attention-span of the child, their age, their knowledge of music … when I was teaching at MLC, the music department recommended to parents that in their first year of learning, kids should practise 10mins a day; in their 2nd year, 20mins; in their 3rd, 30-40mins. I would add that these are minimum guidelines, and children should always be encouraged to practise for longer. Furthermore, any upcoming performances, auditions or exams are likely to require more work.
In my experience of learning two instruments and teaching a number of students, I would advise that shorter but regular practice yields better results than the occasional very long practice. Furthermore, I would recommend dividing practice time into segments spread throughout the day. In the case of children, perhaps 5-10mins in the morning before school, and 5-10mins after school.
Lastly, it is not so much the time that counts but the quality of the practice. Mindlessly repeating a piece or an exercise just for the sake of it is not going to be as effective as being fully engaged in the listening of the music being made. Making sure the correct fingering is being used, that the right note is being played, that it's at the right dynamic and speed, and that our fingers and hands and posture are appropriate, are all elements of what constitutes engaged practice.
As a parent, I highly encourage you to be as involved as you can with your child's musical practice, although less so for the more mature students. Here are some things to watch out for, and some tips for helping your kid fill your home with their music:
I hope this article helps in promoting healthy and productive practice sessions at your home with your child.
Categories: Teaching & music education