FAQ: How Much Should I (or my child) Practice?

This is a question I'm asked by both new and seasoned students alike. New students and parents want to know what they're signing up for while more advanced students want to ensure their practice routines continue to benefit their musical journeys.  

In an ideal world, my students would practice each piece (or section of a piece) about 5 times per day, every day. That's it. No half-hour of daily practice, no two-hour marathon practice sessions on the weekend.  

Here's why: the brain actually makes the connections between neural musical pathways while you're asleep. Even if you play a piece for two hours straight, if you don't play it again for five days, you've missed out on five more chances to strengthen those pathways. Think about walking along a path through grass. If you only walk the path one day per week, it'll be a faint path, even if that one day is very busy. If you walk the same path every day, just once or twice, soon it'll be easy to spot. That's how the brain works. It needs time to rest between creating the pathways that allow students to learn.  

My "magic number" of five times per day is something I've noticed from observing students over the past decade. Once, twice, or three times per day doesn't seem to be quite enough. The student may play the correct notes but it will take much longer to play the piece with the correct dynamics and rhythm. More than five times per day tends to be too time-consuming, especially as selections grow longer and more involved. Students today don't have hours to devote to practice every day (more on that in another post) and music should not be seen as a chore to cross off their to-do lists.  

I'm definitely not perfect, and I don't expect perfection from my students. I know absolute daily practice is likely not going to happen for every single student, every single day. However, keeping the "five times through each piece each day" goal in mind helps students stay on track with progress.  

If you're ready to begin learning music and playing a piece five times per day doesn't sound so bad, contact me today! I look forward to joining you on your musical journey!

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