RECOMMENDATIONS ON HOW TO PRACTICE A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
Learning a musical piece is like putting together a puzzle but very often the impatience that comes from being young tends to rush the process, which in return gets on the way of getting good results. Fast gratification doesn’t work in music!! Precisely, this is one of the important benefits of music. The process of repetition, self-correction, and the constant process of learning new material and conquering new challenges are key components to building grit and therefore character. A good practice method starts with writing down your goals for the day and creating your own schedule formula, which will be unique to each family. My recommendation is that less is more when you are efficient and know what your goal is for the day. Keep in mind that the more you practice, the more results you will get. The teacher’s personality, experience, and methods used is key to a successful outcome. Every child has different needs, different styles of learning and different personalities for which applying the correct approach is crucial.
MUSIC EDUCATIONAL CAPSULES ON HOW TO PRACTICE AN INSTRUMENT
• WHERE TO PRACTICE: You should be in a quiet area with good lighting. If your place of practice is in the middle of a congested area in the house, then you should do the practicing at a time where there is no one around so you can concentrate well.
• WHEN TO PRACTICE: Select the days and times of the week that you can dedicate to practicing your instrument. Stick to your schedule and be consistent. This will create the habit which will affect the overall results. Keep in mind that is always better to practice in small frames of times efficiently than large frames of time inefficiently.
• WHAT TO PRACTICE: If you have scales, studies, and pieces to practice select one or two at most per day. Selecting what to practice will depend on how much available time you have and your position in the learning process of each musical piece.
• HOW MUCH TIME AND DAYS PER WEEK THE VERY YOUNG OR BEGINNERS SHOULD PRACTICE?
The amount of practice depends on the age and level of the student. It is crucial to know that after 30 min of practice, the brain needs a break. For the very young or beginners 15 to 30 min of practice at least 3-5 times per week is more than enough. A good way to establish the habit of practicing, is to do it in increments of 15 min every day. Sometimes part of the 30 min practice is bringing their attention to the task in hand. The repetition of bringing their attention to the task in hand is the key, that in the end will help increase their capability to focus.
• HOW MUCH TIME AND DAYS PER WEEK THE INTERMEDIATE OR ADVANCED SHOULD PRACTICE?
The amount of practice depends on the age and level of the student. It is crucial to know that after 30 min of practice, the brain needs a break. For intermediate to advanced levels practicing 45 min to 60 min is ideal 5 days per week. If 5 days a week of practice is not feasible, then at least 3 days per week with a break of 10 min after 30 min of practice. A good way to establish the habit of practicing, is to do it in increments of 15 min every day. This will make your practice time effortless. Smaller goals can achieve bigger ones.
• HOW TO PRACTICE AGES 8 AND UP:
For ages 8 and up The best recommendation is to break down the work into small sections. If you are starting from scratch, follow these steps:
1. Practice hand separate one line at a time and repeat each hand 3-4 times making sure you have understood the notes and rhythms. Repeat the process until the end of the piece.
2. Practice hands together again one line at a time and repeat each line 3-4 times until you have covered the whole piece. Once you have finished learning the notes and rhythms, then you are ready for the next step.
3.Work on dynamics, phrasing, style, interpretation, and memory.
*Keep in mind that less is more. By this I mean that smaller goals will get you to the bigger ones more effortlessly.
• HOW TO PRACTICE FOR AGES 3-7 YEARS OLD:
For Ages 3-7 years old that have started to learn an instrument, the recommendation is as follows:
1. Parent supervision during the class and practice time is ideal, in some cases, is required.
2. Practice two measures at a time. Sometimes we are just practicing 3 notes at a time. Adjust based on age and need. The amount of work that a student can handle at these ages is very individual.
3. At these ages the student is mainly learning how to sit or hold the instrument, learning basic notes and rhythms.
4. If applies, hands separate practice is always recommended. It is crucially important to understand that at this age the student’s capabilities to focus will vary from one child to the other, however, they will improve as they get older. The teacher’s personality, experience, and methods used with the very young is key to a successful outcome. Every child has different needs, different styles of learning and different personalities for which applying the correct approach is crucial.