Part 4 of 4: What are the goals?
BY MEGHAN VANCE • JUNE 5, 2023
In trying to answer the question “How Much Should My Student Practice?,” we’ve needed to answer several preparatory questions: “What do we mean by practice?,” “What needs to be considered?” and “What are the student’s goals?” Since the answer to our original question depends on a number of factors, it is important to ask it regularly: annually for students practicing at levels one and two, and with increasing regularity as students advance. “Thirty minutes per day, five days per week” is a good minimum guideline for beginners, but parents can build a better guideline once all of the factors discussed so far have been carefully considered.
One factor not yet discussed directly is balance. Students’ practice time is often limited by their pursuits and activities in other areas of life. This is no bad thing: it is important for students to learn balance. Physical activity, social activity, creativity, play, and rest are vital for students both as persons and as artists; planning time for these things is crucial.
Students involved in several activities or with heavy homework loads will usually need parental help to learn organizational skills. Students who are skilled and advanced in several activities often need parental help to learn how to prioritize: these students can become frustrated that they are not superhuman and beyond the laws of time, not capable of simultaneously being the best academically, the best musically, and the best athletically. Student goals, whether in music or other areas, may require adjustment in order to achieve a healthy life balance.
As discussed in parts 1-3, it is important when planning practice time to remember:
Practice is not merely repetition.
Practice includes activities like listening and studying.
Practice can be split into multiple sessions during a day.
Practice sessions should not be longer than the student can handle physically.
Practice sessions should not be longer than the student can handle emotionally/mentally.
Every student is unique.
To use the better guidelines provided below, first consider how many years your student has taken private lessons. This should be a good indicator of the student’s repertoire level and endurance. Next, look at your student’s goal level to see how many minutes per day a student should practice. Six days of practice per week is recommended, though five is acceptable for students who are not aiming to be professional musicians. For students trying to stay competitive with peers, it is best to think of the first year of lessons as beginning at age four.
Choose Your Practice Guideline
The progress bars below show how much a student is practicing per day as compared to a peer in the Greatest Artists goal level. To review the description of a goal level (i.e. Minimum Musicians), visit part three of the article.