How Long Should I Practice?

One of the most common questions for students and student parents. How much time should I practice? Like anything else, learning to play an instrument directly reflects the effort you put into the endeavor.  So the answer to the practice question varies.

Suppose you are 3, 4, 5 years old. An ideal practice situation would be 5 to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. The goal is musical discovery and joy. Make it easy to repeat skills and have fun. The parent will play musical games as well. You want to help your child have an appreciation for music for a lifetime. It is important to listen to music in the car or around the house.

Perhaps you are in third or fourth grade. You have started an instrument with your school music program or are taking private lessons. Ideally you would begin practicing daily for 20 minutes. Once your muscles are more developed, it will be easy to practice for 30 minutes at a time. However, if you are becoming fatigued, it is better to practice twice a day for shorter periods of time.

As you hit junior high and high school, 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes a day would be a decent amount of practice time. It would allow you to keep up with your school program. Daily practice would help you to be a competent musical hobbyist. If you wanted to become a professional musician, then look to practice 2 to 6 hours a day.

Think about it, how much time to you devote to a junior high or high school sport? Two and a half hours a day for five days a week. So thirteen hours a week before going to any games or meets. Can you imagine how much you would improve at your instrument to devote that kind of time to practice?

Practicing has seasons. Getting ready for an audition, recital, contest, or a music festival will require much more practice. In many cases, it is not the best player to take the chair, it is the most prepared.  Once you play at a competent level, separations are a matter of degrees.

So as a general rule, 30 minutes a day will keep your mind and fingers limber.  If you are looking for a minimum number, that is a place to start. If you are working toward excellence, the more practice the better.

No matter what, the most important part of practicing, is to begin!

About miriamtroxler

Miriam Troxler resides in Beaver, Pa, where she runs a private music studio. After graduation from Chatham University, she toured in Europe with the Continental Singers Orchestra as principal cellist. A long time member of Greenville Symphony Orchestra, she is also the founder and musical director of CelloBrationS. Miriam enjoys composing and arranging with several published pieces to date.
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