How Long Should I Practice?

How long should I practice for, or, how many times should I practice per week? 2 questions that come up a lot.

Everyone is different when it comes to practice. Some people have more time than others, some people make more time than others and for some people, practice isn’t really something they spend any time on.

Gauging your practice time will vary depending on what your goals are and will vary for everyone. Also, age makes a big difference too. Kids have got 18 different things to get done in the next 10 seconds! A lot of parents need to work and others may be retired.

It’s such a tricky question to answer but here are my thoughts on the whole thing.

First off, try to make sure your practice sessions are well rounded. Include some technical work, some sight reading, pieces you’re learning and probably most importantly, play some reportoire you already know and enjoy.

Playing the reportoire you already know and enjoy gives you confidence that you can already play the piano. If you always play material that pushes your technical ability it can often lead to questioning if you can play or not. So, please pick a few pieces and play them and most importantly enjoy them.

So, back to timing.

First off, if you can only manage an hour a week, make sure it’s six sessions that are 10 minute long, or four sessions of 15 minutes. Frequently going back and forth to the keys builds your familiarity with the piano thus improving your playing. Cramming an hour in before your lesson, or the night before your lesson, doesn’t have as good an effect.

Often, the pain part can be going to the keyboard but once you’re there, 10 minutes can just disappear.

Anything up from the 10 minutes per day is great. Once you start to get to the hour a day stage then you could consider splitting your practice in to 2 sessions. I normally have 30 minutes before I walk my daughter to school then 40 minutes to an hour at lunchtime. This takes advantage of spaced repetition which is great for learning.

One more question you may ask. If I only have 10 minutes a day, how do I squeeze in techincal work, sight reading, new reportoire and pieces I already know? Good question.

I think if you get a timer out and have very specific goals in mind you can accomplish a lot in a very short period. For example, picking a scale for the day, say B major. This would take maybe a minute to play 2 octaves on each hand. Sight reading doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. There are plenty of examples out there of pieces that are 4 bars long. Call this 2 minutes.

Once that is out the way, lets look at your current reportoire. First piece of advice, if you’re short on time, is to set yourself a very short and manageable goal. This could be 2 bars in the middle of your piece that you know is wobbly. Target that until you fix it. If you run out of time, come back to it on your next session.

Anyway, there are loads of tips but if I say one thing. Get a timer out, set it for 10 mins and see where the music takes you.

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