Why is practicing so important?
The majority of your learning will take place outside of your lesson. Your lesson is a springboard, a help, a resource, a chance to try things out. It’s at home, in those times you set aside to practice that you will really make progress.
How long should I practice for?
When you start out I recommend at least 3 x 10-15 mins a week, it’s actually not long, but you need regular short bursts so as not to forget what you’ve learnt.
Right from the first lesson you will also have some theory work each week. Pre-grade 1, this is fun sticker book activities.
As you progress 3-4 times a week 20-30 minutes is quite a normal time to be playing for. And remember there’s loads of things to do when practicing.
A variety of:
Pieces or exercises (set in your lessons)
Fun tunes – things you are having a go at yourself (film tunes, pop songs, classical tunes, things you’ve downloaded… anything really, just make sure you are playing for fun!)
Scales, arpeggios and broken chords – even when you’re not practicing hard for your exam, you should be using these each day at the beginning of practice for finger technique & strengthening. By playing these regularly it won’t be a shock at exam time, you’ll already know them!
If you are in the run up to an exam then the amount of practicing you will do will naturally increase, until you’re working hard daily ready for exam day!
After grade 1, we start working on graded theory exercises matching the grade you have just taken.
What if practicing becomes a battle?
Sometimes it does feel hard work getting your child to practice.
At the early stages I set small manageable objectives each week, and the first question I ask each lesson is “What have you worked on this week?”
Children love to show their achievements, no matter how small, and I never expect perfection, just a good try!
At the early stages there are plenty of stickers, practice wheels, and rewards. As children improve and move forward they find intrinsic motivation and a great deal of satisfaction in achieving and playing and progressing.
It is very disheartening for the children if week in week out they have not done any work between lessons, you will actually find their playing becomes harder and more tedious for them & little progress is made.
Most progress and learning is done at home, try setting small times aside before or after school when you expect them to practice. Learning an instrument can be tremendously hard work, but its also trenendously rewarding!