Practicing requirements guidelines
Please, understand that these are general guidelines, and may not work without some adjustment for every child and every family.
Every student and family have their own unique situation, goals, and expectations. These guidelines provide only a base information to help parents who are at a loss of how much time is needed for their student to be able to progress and enjoy the fruits of their study.
Not enough of support from parents to build discipline, and not sufficient daily time at the piano result in unwanted false impressions:
“My child is not gifted enough, look how much others have progressed compared to him!”
“My child does not love music enough to put the work in, this is not worth it”
“We are not musicians, we can’t help our child learn this, better focus on smth our family knows how to do”
And many other disappointments, which can be avoided, simply by applying consistency and common sense.
From over 25 years of my experience in piano pedagogy, my own learning experience, and my continuing education in the fields of modern brain science, pedagogy, and child psychology, I need to assure every one of parents that your child can learn piano, be successful, and become fluent enough to enjoy the skills and the art of it for the rest of their lives. You do not need to be a professional musician to help, instead you need to be there for your kids with understanding of how challenging this is, and to be their stronghold, supporting them through struggles of learning discipline. Every child in our Studio will graduate at the end of their high school with enough sufficient piano skills to be able to minor in piano in college, most will be qualified to double major. That is, if you, as parents, help them to CONSISTENTLY practice the amounts of time listed below, and help them to follow my instructions of HOW to practice and WHAT to do during those times.
Younger than 7. Base line is 30 min per day on average, the average needs to be met over at least a period of 1 week, sometimes longer, 2 weeks, or even a month. Expect wide variety from child to child, and wide fluctuation from day to day. This age children go through significant changes, and may display drastic changes back and forth in their ability to focus. Splitting 30 minutes into shorter sessions is recommended, but only on as needed basis. Working at home with a very young student requires constant attention to their changing ability, and a lot of flexibility.
Ages 7-8. 45 minutes per day, averaged over a week is the goal. More consistency is expected, but still your child may go through periods of acting like he/she is “back in diapers”.
Ages 9-10. 1 hour-1 hour 15 min is sufficient. Your child will gradually start to become more independent and able to complete some of the practicing on their own, on average about 1/2 of assignment will no longer need your sitting next to them.
Ages 11-13. solid 1.5 hour per day, with longer practicing sessions over weekends. 1 hour 45-2 hours, averaged over a month. Hopefully by this age your child has a well established routine, and understands the assignments well enough to do most of their practicing on their own. Your being present throughout the lessons and taking notes is still very helpful, I recommend printing out the summary of your comments and giving it to your child to help them remember the instruction. As you will notice during our lessons, I take some time to teach this age students how to take notes themselves, and how to work on analyzing the pieces and choosing better practicing tools for variety of challenges. We spend some time to work “off-keyboard” with the pencil
High school students. 2 hours per day is the desired amount. However, if your child has been practicing consistently throughout elementary and middle school, it’s ok if they find themselves unable to dedicate this amount of time to piano anymore. By this stage they most likely already built enough basic skills and problem-solving practicing tools. If they are unable to keep up with 2 hours of practicing, the perspective of being able to minor or double major in piano in college will not be diminished. Nor their ability to enjoy playing the instrument for the rest of their lives. They will struggle to learn larger amounts of new repertory, they may not be able to reach the heights of virtuoso technique… but that isn’t a condition for continued love for piano and musical development. They do need to keep up with regular practicing, so that their muscle memory isn’t affected, and so that they keep exploring new musical styles and keep developing their musical taste. The pieces which they learn may become shorter than they would be if they practiced 2 hours, but those pieces are no less important and no less beautiful.