How much should students practice?
Daily, quality practice is essential to a student's progress and enjoyment in piano. Unlike other activities for children, which are often scheduled 2-3x a week, piano lessons are generally scheduled only once a week, so reinforcement at home is very necessary. In my studio, I give the following guidelines:
- Beginner level students should practice approximately 20-30 minutes a day.
- Early intermediate level students should practice approximately 40-60 minutes a day.
- Late intermediate/advanced level students should practice approximately 60 minutes a day or more.
What is meaningful practice?
Meaningful practice is, essentially, practice that helps reinforce concepts learned in the lesson. It is extremely helpful for students to practice immediately after their lesson, or the very next day, to reinforce what they just learned. Students may need to be reminded to work on the assigned goals for each piece. Simply playing through pieces without specific goals in mind is not meaningful practice.
What about repetition? How many times should a student play each piece (or phrase or section)?
Students rarely do their best work on their first try. Repetition is important for improvement, but it helps to focus on improving one thing per repetition. Point out positives before reminding students about something they forgot to do or still need to work on.
Sometimes my child just wants to “mess around” on the piano and make up their own songs. How can I get them to focus on their assignments?
Messing around (improvising) on the piano is a wonderful activity with many benefits and should not be discouraged. Remind your child that they may only have a certain amount of time to play the piano (before it's time for dinner, for example) and that they need to make sure they have time for their lesson assignments too, so that they can get better at playing the piano.