Practice Duration & Frequency

Many of my new students (and parents) ask me how long and

how often they should practice.  After being asked this so many times I’ve learned to stop giving out a time frame or even a number of days per week that they should practice music because, honestly, everyone has different schedules and goals.  I’m not going to quote a number that they will never be able to achieve because of lifestyle.

“it is better to practice 5-10 minutes everyday during the week than 2 hours one day of the week”

With that said, there is one rule I think is important when setting up your music practice routine.  It is much better to practice consistently during the week in smaller time frames than only once a week for a long time.  For example, it is better to practice 5-10 minutes everyday during the week than 2 hours one day of the week.  Why? because getting to your instrument regularly for a few minutes everyday creates a habit for the long term where as playing your instrument for hours just one day will burn you out and will not nurture steady growth in your skill level or long term habits in practicing.

How To Practice

When starting your practice routine it’s not imperative that you divide your practice time into a specific ratio.   Practice what you want or have time for and create a habit out of it.  Again, the most important part is to get to your instrument regularly.

“start out the practice with instrument exercises… then lesson material

… and lastly songs

With my students I usually have 3 different material archetypes going on each week: Exercises, Lesson material, and Song/Piece. If you are using more than one of these as well I recommend to start out the practice with instrument exercises (scales, vocal warmup, etc), then Lesson material (theory, technique, etc), and lastly songs/pieces (rock/pop, classical, etc).  

Where To Practice

The best place to practice your instrument is somewhere you can focus on your music and not easily get distracted.  Also, as a curtesy, try to make sure you aren’t distracting others when possible.  If you are in an environment that is stimulating and distracting but want to practice I would recommend playing warmup type exercises (i.e. scales, licks, etc.).  For example, many of my guitar students will practice their scales while they watch tv.  This not only makes the practicing of scales less ‘boring’ but also can help pull the players eyes and mind off the their hands to solidify the scales into muscle memory.  After you play enough you will come to a point where you won’t really think about notes and chords being played because your hand muscles know how to play them.  When I’m playing guitar I can be playing and singing while at the same time thinking about something completely different, like what I am going to eat after, haha!