One of the first questions we hear from parents at Descant Music is about the frequency of practice: "How often should my child be practicing?" The simple answer? Every day. But let's delve deeper into this to understand why consistency is key.
The Power of Daily Practice
Striving to practice daily sets up a routine that encourages consistency. Life is unpredictable, and schedules can easily be disrupted. If your plan is to practice only on specific days, like Monday through Friday, what happens when unforeseen events disrupt a couple of those days? Suddenly, you're down to practicing just three days a week. However, aiming for daily practice increases the likelihood of getting enough practice in, despite the inevitable interruptions.
Quality Over Quantity
It's crucial to understand that any amount of practice is better than none. Skipping practice can lead to setbacks, not immediately, but over time. Weeks without practice can result in backsliding, leading to frustration and, sadly, sometimes to quitting. So remember, even a little practice is infinitely better than none at all.
When students are just beginning, practice sessions don't need to be long or strenuous. Initially, there might not even be enough material to fill extensive daily sessions. As students progress and start excelling, teachers will naturally assign more material, and practice sessions will gradually become longer and more involved.
Setting Realistic Practice Goals
Most people want a specific number for practice time, especially for kids. For young beginners, aim for about 15 minutes a day. As they progress, this can increase to 30 minutes, and for advanced students, an hour or more daily, depending on their goals.
Scheduling Practice Smartly
Rather than setting a rigid schedule, like “practice every day at 5 PM,” which can lead to missed sessions and excuses, try linking practice to daily routines. For instance, practicing “after dinner” or “before video games” can be more effective. If dinner is early, practice is early too. It's about making practice a natural part of the day.
For younger kids, a good habit is to have them play their instrument several times a day for short durations. Playing their song once each time can be enough. This approach accomplishes two things: they practice the song multiple times, and it gets them accustomed to regularly engaging with their instrument.
The Joy of Playing
Emphasize the importance of playing the instrument, not just practicing. If it's a guitar, experiment with a pedal and create some unique sounds. If it's a keyboard, explore different tones and effects. Keeping practice fun and enjoyable is vital. Being playful and silly with the instrument is part of the learning process.
Focused, Intentional Repetition
Focused and intentional repetition is a crucial element of effective practice. If a particular part of a piece is challenging, don’t start from the beginning each time. Instead, work on that tricky part, slowly at first, and repeat it until it feels natural.
A practice technique I found incredibly effective involves using five small objects, like pens or erasers. Play the challenging part, and if you do it without mistakes, move one object to the side. If you make a mistake, move all objects back and start over. Aim for five consecutive, mistake-free repetitions. Once you've mastered the small part, expand to include more of the piece, applying the same method. This diligent, honest approach to practice significantly improves proficiency.
Finding What Works for You
There are many ways to practice. What's important is to find a method that works for you and stick to it daily. Consistent, focused practice is the key to advancement in music.
At Descant Music and Art Studio, we believe in nurturing each student's unique musical journey. Practice is a vital part of that journey, and we're here to guide and support you every step of the way.
At Descant Music and Art Studio, we're dedicated to supporting each student's musical journey, offering guidance and encouragement every step of the way. For more information about our lessons in piano, guitar, voice, and more, and how we can help develop your child's musical talents, visit us at Descant Music and Art Studio.