If you are a parent who is considering music lessons for your child, it's important to know that practicing everyday is not a requirement.
As a private music teacher, I have had the pleasure of working with many students over the years. Some students practice every day and some don't. The difference between those students isn’t necessarily what you might think or expect.
Some students may not have time to practice every day because they have multiple other obligations such as school, sports, and other extracurricular activities. Others may not practice because they are busy with other interests, or because they simply don’t want to.
All of these reasons are perfectly acceptable reasons to not practice every day, but practice is an essential part of properly learning to play a musical instrument.
When we set up private lessons with students, I always ask them if they’d like to set goals for their weekly practice time, so we can work together towards those goals throughout our lessons together. This not only allows us both to measure progress over time and helps us both stay motivated, but also allows us to communicate effectively and create a bond. This collaboration is helpful for students as we make it clear to them that they are not alone, and that we can achieve these goals together!
It’s also important to make sure that your teacher is helping you with the right concepts at every stage of learning. In physical training, if you don’t have the right form for an exercise, then your muscles won’t grow properly and it will be difficult for them to get stronger in the future. Just like in exercise, if you don’t understand certain concepts within music before advancing, you won’t grow in your musical ability properly.
It's not about how often but how well
A big topic we emphasize for students who take private lessons is not how often you practice, but how well you practice. Now, what do we mean by this?
If you’re practicing every day, but are feeling frustrated with your progress, it’s probably time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at what you’re doing. It may be helpful to ask yourself these questions: is the material too difficult? Are you practicing with the right mindset? Are you focused when you’re practicing? If these things are out of balance, then you actually should skip a day or two of practice to get yourself back into the right headspace.
However, if not just practicing daily is a difficulty for you but practicing at all, then that’s a problem. Truly mastering an instrument takes time, dedication, and effort. If you’re only been playing for a few months and have decided that “practice doesn’t matter,” then you should ask yourself whether or not this is really something that interests you enough to invest the time required to achieve success.
There’s a misconception among many students that if they don’t practice every day they’ll lose all their progress, and this simply is not true. In fact, skipping days will actually make your playing better, by giving your mind and body time to refresh before returning.
The time you dedicate to practicing your instrument all depends on how much time you have available to practice.
If you have the time and desire to play 10 minutes a day, play 10 minutes. If you have the time and desire to play 20 minutes every two days, then play 20 minutes every two days. If you have the time and desire to play two hours a day, then play two hours a day!
The important thing is to actually spend some time playing the piece so that it becomes part of your routine. You’ll notice that the more often you play it, the easier it will become, and before you know it, you’ll be able to play through an entire piece without having to think about it.
If you find yourself struggling with practicing, try these tips:
1) Keep a Practice Journal
2) Listen to Music You Love
3) Change Your Environment
4) Take Breaks During Practice Time