Practice Makes Progress
Tuesday, September 1, 2015 by Jacqueline Savage | Practice
Published: Sep 17, 2015 | Category: Practice
Practice Makes Progress
Practice for all ages
By Jacqueline Savage
I have been teaching my step son Alex how to play the piano since he was 5 years old. We have had many practice wars throughout his study and sometimes it leaves me wondering, are these battles worth it?
After thinking about my own study as a child, and doing countless hours of research on practice methods and seeing all the scientific studies that prove the benefits of learning to play an instrument, I decided last year to change Alex’s practice routine up because we weren’t going to give up! We went from 3 days of practice a week for 10 min. a day to 5 days of practice for 30 min. a day. This practice session happened routinely after Alex did his homework Monday-Friday. What I learned last year was that the battles stopped when Alex knew that piano practice was part of his homework and it was going to happen every day. The results were amazing. Alex has pushed into early intermediate music and enjoys performing his music for anyone that will listen. I’ve seen huge improvement in his theory and technique. He is proud of himself and shows confidence in front of a group. He talks about music history and different composers in every day conversation and has recently told me he would like to go to Berklee College of music one day! What a difference a year has made!
Do I think this will work for every kid? Absolutely not. But, it is worth trying a different approach if you are also dealing with practice wars this year. Thinking about how your child learns and what will motivate and encourage them to practice in a positive way is key. Once students see results, they want to keep practicing!
My practice Chart:
Kindermusik Practice: Listening to the class CD in the car and also looking at the digital @home materials once a week is how this age “practices”. Babies and toddlers learn through PLAY! After touching on the material during the week, babies and toddlers remember what they have heard in class and can imitate what they are learning faster!
Preschool Practice: Preschoolers should be looking at the materials we do in class twice a week with parents. Each time going over what they did in their book, and either practicing different fingers on the piano or doing free play on the piano. Loud playing is okay, banging is not.
Age 6-9: If this age practices 3 days a week for 10 min., you will see slow progress but progress nonetheless. If children are pushed too hard at this age to practice, they will hate playing and we want them to enjoy playing! If they can practice 5 days a week for 10-30 min., students will improve in their playing at a faster pace. For some kids, this might be beneficial. Seeing progress faster motivates students.
Age 10 and up: Students should be practicing 30 min. 5 days a week. At this rate they will be playing intermediate music when they graduate high school. If they are planning to attend college for music or want to perform as a career, they should be practicing 1-2 hours daily. This will put them in late intermediate-early advanced music towards the end of their high school career.
Adult Students: I also continue to take lessons as an adult, pianist, and teacher. It is for my professional development but also for my own personal enjoyment. Like many of you, I am very busy with my family, small children, and job. I try to practice Monday-Friday from 5:30am-7:00am. It is my “quiet” time. I would suggest finding a time that works for you and sticking to it!
Professional Pianists: 5-6 hours a day!
Music is comparable to learning another language. It is not easy but with faithful practice, it is very rewarding. Keep trying to motivate your child and if you are feeling like they want to give up, try something different! Keep constant communication with me so that I can try new things if they are in a slump. If learning to play the piano was easy, everyone would do it! #musicmatters