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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?

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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
Would be nothing strange. Is this an answer? –  h22 Jan 7 '14 at 15:19
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
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
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

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 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.

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Or daughter... :-) –  Ulf Åkerstedt Jan 7 '14 at 20:24
Oops :) Yep. Same deal. –  Stephen Hazel Jan 7 '14 at 21:45
+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
+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

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 !!

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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.

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