Should I Practice Between My Music Lessons?
Assume you have weekly piano lessons. You have 6-7 days to revise the material covered in your lesson. If you do no practice how prepared will you feel for your next lesson?
Suppose you have a lesson each fortnight: you will have 13-14 days to revise and progress before your next lesson! And twice the time to forget the material covered.
Music lessons, whether weekly or fortnightly, are costing you! It makes sense to get the best value you can. You want to learn to play well. The lesson is only a guide - the actual playing is up to you!
So yes you must practice between each music lesson.
What Is The Least Practice I Can Do?
The least practice you must do is enough to bring something new to your next lesson. But since you are paying for your lessons, and you desire to play well, why would you opt for a minimum? This suggests you want to progress as slowly as possible! Costing you maximum for a long slow result.
There is a momentum attached to learning any subject whereby we must achieve noticeable improvement within a reasonable time span in order to remain excited and enthusiastic. Once this emotion fades it is very difficult to stay on track. Consider your early enthusiasm - was there a song you wanted to play or did you want to perform or compose your own songs? Has the teaching you have received evaporate your passion?
It could be time to search for a new teacher who is dynamically in tune with your ambition, and who can lead you to gain the result you want.
Otherwise, it is up to you! Set a daily target to make some progress.
What Is The Ideal Amount Of Weekly Music Practice For Me?
This will vary a little according to whether you are child or adult, working or have more leisure time, and it is also down to your personal ambition. You can go as far as you want in music. Performers are not always the best musicians technically, but they learn to master their nerves and play well in public.
A simple piece played well, even with passion, is more effective than a technically difficult piece played badly. Let the music sing out!
To make good progress between each music lesson you should aim to practice at least 5 out of 7 days. Set a time aside when you will not be distracted. Not only is this valuable "me" time but your teacher will really notice and appreciate your willingness, and your lessons will flow far better.
I suggest 10-15 minutes daily, increasing to 30-60 minutes as you progress. Vary the material you approach, start with scales and exercises, and finish with your favourite song of the week. Keep feeling alert and fresh. Avoid strain.
So How Much Practice Is Too Much?
Play all you like! Avoid strain of any sort. Plan your practice time partly for learning new material and the rest for playing. Play over and over a few bars or a line or two until the music feels easy and effortless.
Play until you never go wrong and you add some feeling into your playing.
Be sure to have plenty of music you really enjoy so practice is not a chore. Don't neglect your scales and arpeggios as these help you to play effortlessly at a later date. Spend time just exploring sounds on your instrument - find all the C's, all the E's, octaves, thirds, sixths: make some music up yourself!
Transpose a song you are learning into another key. Play and sing. Contrast lyrical legato with spiky staccato effects!
There is so much you can do outside your lessons, and if you truly love your instrument, practice should be fun. You should walk away feeling refreshed, feeling on top of the world! Have fun, and teach your world to sing along!
Lou teaches Piano, Trumpet, Trombone, Sax, Clarinet, Drums in Kent and East Sussex, UK. You can read and view more music performance and practice tips here on my piano blog http://www.kentpianoteacher.co.uk
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