Unlike most afterschool activities, music lessons alone are not enough to ensure a steady progress. Students should practice throughout the week. The question that many parents ask themselves is how to make sure that their practice routines are adequate. In this article, I will give you a few tips to make sure that they are prepared for every single lesson.
Why is it necessary to practice daily?
Music demands continuity and dedication. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was not uncommon for music students to meet with their teachers daily. Instruction was not limited to the instrument—theory and composition lessons ensured a thorough education. Today, it is inconceivable to invest that kind of time and resources. But there is another valuable reason. Students need time to absorb concepts that they have discovered in lessons. By practicing every day, they learn to think independently and tackle new challenges with confidence and curiosity.
How often should my child practice?
While different instruments demand different amounts, most teachers agree that daily practice yields the best results. Students can take one day off to unwind, but I always suggest that they do so on a weekday, not the weekend. Most have demanding schedules and it is common to need a break during the week.
Should you do it on the day of the lesson?
Honestly, I do not recommend it. There are two reasons for it. First of all, while students should warm up for about 20 minutes on the day of the lesson, any more will make them too tired for the lesson. Second of all, if they gear themselves towards being ready the day prior to the lesson, they will be far more relaxed. It is the same as completing all homework assignments on Friday night in order to enjoy the whole weekend.
How long should you practice?
Sessions should not be timed, but goal oriented. However, the claim that 15 minutes each day is enough is flawed. 15 minutes barely allow students to warm up, let alone learn what they have covered in the lesson. Practice sessions should ideally be at least as long as lessons.
Longer practice sessions enable students to remain more alert during lessons
By prolonging their practice routines, students will train their concentration. This way, lessons will just fly by, and students will manage to extract the most out of them.
As I mentioned before, practice sessions should be goal oriented. Teachers should come up with assignments that are challenging yet manageable. They should also explain how they should practice. One word of caution, this process takes years to master, but there is a direct link between good practice habits and successful progress. In case you are interested in finding out more about good practice habits, this podcast addresses this issue in great detail.