A question I get asked often when signing a student up for lessons is, “How much should I practice?” The answer is there is no good answer.
Everyone’s situation is different. The age of the student, the number of years playing, and what the student is practicing for are all variables. Here are a few pointers to help in determining what is right for you.
Beginner students don’t need to spend a lot of time practicing. Since they are just starting out, they will not have many assignments. You don’t want to overload them. Often times, they are just learning proper techniques, not necessarily any songs. 10-15 minutes a day is good for beginning students.
Have you been playing for a few years? Increase to 30 minutes a day. By now you will have developed proper techniques and you are using these techniques to learn some songs. Start your practice time with a few scales to warm up, play a couple of etudes to work on your technique, then switch to working on your school music or solo.
If you are in high school or you are preparing for a competition or audition, then you should be practicing a minimum of an hour every day. Follow the same practice schedule you did when you were younger but spend more time on each section. Don’t worry if you don’t have an hour everyday to devote to practicing. Play some scales for 15 minutes. Come back later and work on your solo for half an hour. Dividing your practice time into smaller blocks will not only make it easier to find the time to practice, but it will prevent you from becoming tired or injured.
No matter how old you are or how long you have been playing there are a few points to remember. A little bit every day is much better than one long block of time once a week.
Always warm up. Find a quiet place free from distractions to practice. Have a structured practice session. Keeping a practice log is always helpful. Reward yourself. Music is a discipline so don’t get discouraged if you are struggling...and don’t give up!