Take the 2-minute tour ×
Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My 11 year old child starts learning piano from scratch, taking 30 min weekly lessons with the teacher. How many additional practicing time per week it is reasonable and clever to allocate for the typical, usual progress?

It is always possible to say "the more the better". However there is also school with other subjects to learn. From the other side, with no or very little time per week may be no sense to take lessons at all.

How much time (hours per week) would be a usual choice in such situation?

share|improve this question
1  
This depends on too many factors... How about you try something, like 15-30min/day of good practice, and then in a couple weeks ask the teacher and the kid how it's working? –  nonpop Jan 7 '14 at 14:58
1  
A new idea from your notice is that may be better to allocate short duration daily rather than 1 hour chunk but less frequently. Do I understand this hint correctly? –  h22 Jan 7 '14 at 15:24
2  
Well, I put it as a comment since in my opinion it doesn't answer your question... Anyway, I do think it could be better to practice daily, and one session should be short enough that one can practice well the whole time. It is mentally hard work, so if you try practicing for an hour it might be that you practice well for 15 minutes and then the rest is just fiddling around making no progress. –  nonpop Jan 7 '14 at 15:49
1  
For an 11 year old, I would say an hour is probably a bit long, especially if he is a beginner. 15 minutes to a half hour would be better. You don't want the child's mind to start wandering. Also, if you encourage a child to do his best for 15 minutes, then maybe go do his other homework, then come back for 15 more minutes, he will be surprised at how much improvement he makes in the second session. Walking away and coming back to a problem often solves the problem, and he might find that interesting. –  BobRodes Apr 21 '14 at 21:34
1  
I know this sounds downbeat but be prepared for her or him to be unable to motivate themselves and that you find yourself nagging them to practise day-after-day. Youth is wasted on the young: amazing ability to learn and often little desire to do so. That said, I was pleased my Mum & Dad had forced me to practise the violin. I gave up the day I turned 16 but took it up again in my forties and found it much much easier to return to than to start from scratch. –  dumbledad Apr 22 '14 at 7:54

5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

How much time should your son spend practicing piano per week?

That implies he doesn't particularly love piano yet. Or you wouldn't be able to tear him away from it.

Give him a schedule of 30 mins (broken up into a couple well defined tasks) per weekday starting at the same time every day. Have him show off to you when practice time is -over-. Ask if he wants to practice more than that.

If he absolutely loves piano, let him spend as much time as he likes.

Give it about 6 months, and if you still have to make him practice, consider finding a different lifelong skill that he -does- love. Another instrument, computer programming, writing, there are plenty of worthwhile life long skills besides piano that your son might prefer.

I tried like heck to get my son into piano and computer programming (my loves). No dice. But he's doing ok at drama and has fun with photoshop and videos. That's who he is.

share|improve this answer
    
Or daughter... :-) –  Ulf Åkerstedt Jan 7 '14 at 20:24
    
Oops :) Yep. Same deal. –  Stephen Hazel Jan 7 '14 at 21:45
4  
+1 The one thing I'd add is that my experience was that I disliked practicing the piano, but I loved improvising whole songs and wound up learning how to compose. Likewise, you might want to be sensitive if your kid doesn't like the piano per se but shows interest in related areas. –  Kevin Jan 8 '14 at 17:44
4  
+1 But I felt the need to mention that when I began playing the piano, I didn't practice and I even wanted to stop. However, my parents were firm with me and made me continue learning, and now I'm incredibly glad that they did. Sometimes, it's a good idea to make children keep at something for a while. The opinions of a child of that age can change a lot over the next few years of their life. –  Poben Mar 25 '14 at 18:19
    
Growing up, my parents always insisted that I be learning/playing at least one instrument, though they gave my my choice. I sometimes hated it (I even quit piano for saxophone, which I deeply regret now, because I'd be so good at piano by now), but, in hindsight, I'm very glad they insisted. –  Greg Jackson Mar 20 at 21:52

We all have a different tolerance for the amount of time we can focus on a task and actually be productive. After that time, the law of diminishing returns creeps in, and even if you push past it, it is likely you are not making any further advancement, and can in fact be damaging the skills you worked on by becoming unfocused and sloppy.

It was mentioned above that it is better to practice in smaller allocations daily then it is to go a day or more without practice and then try to push through a marathon practice session to make up for it.

When I sit down to practice guitar, I notice that after a while I found myself playing old songs and melodies I already knew, or noodling aimlessly while staring blankly off in the distance, or even fumbling for scales I already know with increased frustration. I've found this time to be around 20 minutes (for me).

If I catch myself as this starts to happen, and instead of pushing through, I go do something else (walk, chores, etc.). I can come back later, and am able to focus for another session.

I would suggest timing your child's practice. When you see the signs of failing attention, or restlessness I would clock this as the current practice target. At this time, introduce something new. Have a small break. Watch a concert pianist on the internet, listen to music.

My thinking is that if I don't have to fight my own brain telling me to do something else, and I am able to focus more during practice, I will enjoy said practice more, and will hopefully naturally increase the time I can focus in any one session.

Thanks!

Steve

share|improve this answer

Practising , in the beginner stages, can be quite onerous. Especially if one only has specific learning tasks - scales, part of a tune, etc. Given other things to do - make up a tune, 20 seconds long, just using D,E, F#,and B -for example, or play CABBAGE in as many different ways you can all over the piano. There are hundreds of ideas, will hopefully mean playing does NOT just mean learning tunes by rote, till they're perfect, then, so what ?

To me, practising can be like eating - we certainly do it 2 or 3 times a day, every day, and we certainly don't save it all up till the end of the week, just before the next lesson !!Short sessions often work well, as the 'boredom factor' doesn't have time to set in.Particularly in the early stages, when knowledge is limited, so only a few things can be 'learnt'.

There cannot possibly be a definitive answer to this question, as every child/beginner is different. Some will love performing a newly learnt piece, others hate it.Incentives to practise, let alone to learn, will vary from one individual to another.As a child, mine were 'no treats till you've done it'. It worked, but at the time my parents were hated for it. 50 yrs on, I'd be cursing them if they hadn't done it, 'cos nothing else worked - I play every day, and love it !!

share|improve this answer

The final strategy we use is 15 minutes every morning first thing to do. This seems sufficient to learn the task from the teacher she gets at the end of the 30 min weekly lesson.

We also play more over the weekend and sometimes in the evening but this time is more difficult to count.

share|improve this answer

Personally, I think this (ie, thinking in terms of time) is the wrong way to approach practicing.

I rather think for an effective practice (for effective anything, this applies to Algebra as well) you should set realistic goals, sit at the bench and don't leave it until you are done.

But how to size a unit of work?

It doesn't have to be "learn a new piece perfectly every day".

It could be small.

It could be "practice this up to a fraction X of the intended BPM until it's OK", "learn 10 new bars", etc.

Size your work units small enough that you can do them correctly, with no mistakes, in a single session - that, I guess, beats "go haphazardly through whole page in a sloppy fashion".

Leave the bench having actually accomplished something - be it play two more bars of a piece, doing arpeggios at a couple more BPMs or perform a whole concerto, in the same way you leave your desk after having solved a math problem :)

Funny story: I once heard a very good (classical) guitarist saying that his secret to practicing was to never make mistakes. Got some dumbfounded looks, because hey, if you never makes mistakes you don't need to practice, right? Wrong, he then explained: he never said anything about anything else, so if his average day had to be "play TWO bars at 1/4 speed - without mistakes", so be it - we'll raise the metronome tomorrow without carrying over today's mistakes.

share|improve this answer
1  
You basically propose to split the teacher task into seven very short sections (just a few bars) and work in one per day, as the whole task must be ready after a week. This differs from alternative approach when the whole say 5 min piece is played every day, its quality gradually improving over the week. –  h22 Mar 20 at 8:27
2  
I never would have learned anything if I held myself to this standard. I'm not saying it's wrong, just that it would have backfired badly with my personality. I actually had to make the opposite realization before I was able to enjoy music: it's ok to make mistakes. –  Todd Wilcox Mar 20 at 11:53
1  
So the end goal is being able to play a section or otherwise do something consistently with no mistakes. That's a common strategy I often use ("be able to play this exercise at 105 bpm 10 times in a row without any mistakes"). The way you phrased it, it sounded like you were suggesting not making any mistakes during practice at all. –  Greg Jackson Mar 20 at 22:14
1  
That said, less solid goals are often okay. On guitar right now, I'm playing around with playing the pentatonic minor scale over 12-bar blues in any key and across all positions. There's no stated goal, but the implied goal is being comfortable everywhere on the fretboard. I stop when I feel like it. –  Greg Jackson Mar 20 at 22:17
1  
I think the rest of the answer is clear enough. I like what I think the anecdote is trying to say, but I shouldn't edit it so I don't misrepresent what the guitarist said. Did he mean that the end result of a practice session was that he was able to do something specific with no mistakes? –  Greg Jackson Mar 20 at 22:25

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.