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#2246742 - 03/14/14 09:39 PM Increasing practice time
Cardinal201 Offline
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Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 100
My son practices ~1.5 hours/day every day except on lesson day, when he practices for ~45 minutes after his 45 minute lesson. He seems happy, and it's quite manageable right now (he does three ~30 minute sessions throughout the afternoon and early evening so he stays fresh/focused), but he's still only 6 and I can't help but wonder what his practice schedule is going to look like as he continues to progress in his piano studies. Does it just get longer and longer? At what point, typically, does continuing to progress start to interfere with other activities and students need to make some tough choices?

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#2246753 - 03/14/14 10:05 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
hreichgott Offline
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Originally Posted By: Cardinal201
My son practices ~1.5 hours/day every day except on lesson day, when he practices for ~45 minutes after his 45 minute lesson. He seems happy, and it's quite manageable right now (he does three ~30 minute sessions throughout the afternoon and early evening so he stays fresh/focused), but he's still only 6


This is plenty for age 6.

Originally Posted By: Cardinal201
I can't help but wonder what his practice schedule is going to look like as he continues to progress in his piano studies. Does it just get longer and longer?


Yes. Well, unless the student decides not to progress further in terms of skill/difficulty level, and wants to just continue to enjoy playing pieces at the current level.

Originally Posted By: Cardinal201
At what point, typically, does continuing to progress start to interfere with other activities and students need to make some tough choices?


Middle school is often that time. However some parents put careful limits on their kids' extracurriculars in elementary school -- making them choose only 2 for example -- and that is valuable, I think, because it makes the kids reflect on what they love to do the most, and increases their commitment to those things.
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#2246809 - 03/15/14 01:52 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
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90 min./day is way, way too much for kids who are 6. This is bordering on insanity.

How many pieces does the teacher assign per week???
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#2246888 - 03/15/14 09:13 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: AZNpiano]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
90 min./day is way, way too much for kids who are 6. This is bordering on insanity.

How many pieces does the teacher assign per week???


I agree. Chopin himself recommended no more than 2 hours of practice for his students - as long as it was mindful practice and not blind repetition. My suggestion for your son would be to learn how to practice more efficiently rather than increase time as the music gets more complicated.

Also, I think for him 45 minutes per day is plenty, maybe on lesson days just a quick 10-15 minute review before lessons to warm up a bit.
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#2246894 - 03/15/14 09:21 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
malkin Offline
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Does your son have time to develop in other domaines as well?
Six is a good age to work on language, social skills and to learn about the world.

Ohhh...now I remember this story. The kid who got handed off to another teacher right away...

Still, I imagine that your goal as a parent is to raise a decent human being, right?


Edited by malkin (03/15/14 09:23 AM)
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#2246928 - 03/15/14 10:55 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
ezpiano.org Offline
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We do not know how was the practice for 1.5 hour. Maybe he was doodling on piano for 30 minutes, then practice the repertoire. Maybe he goes through the older piece that he really like for 30 minutes too. Some kids just like to play piano, they can sit at piano bench for hours without parents forcing them. Maybe this kid is like that? I do not know, I am just guessing.
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#2247127 - 03/15/14 05:32 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
Cardinal201 Offline
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Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 100
Thank you all for your replies! AZNpiano, the teacher doesn't assign new pieces each week. This week, for example, my child is polishing 3 pieces and reviewing several etudes. Polishing takes him a lot longer than learning the basics of a new piece--that's typical, right? Morodienne, I would love for my son to practice more efficiently--hopefully that ability will come with more experience and more maturity. As ezpiano.org mentioned, he does noodle around at the piano quite a bit, although I didn't actually include that when calculating his practice time. If I did, his total time at the piano each day would probably be closer to 2 hours or more. malkin, yes, as a parent, my priority is most definitely trying to raise a decent human being, one who is well-adjusted, healthy, and happy. My son currently does have time for other pursuits of his own choosing, including learning two foreign languages (he has a knack for linguistics), participating in organized sports (he's not athletically gifted but has a lot of fun and has learned much about teamwork and sportsmanship), as well as just playing and exploring and being a kid. But he's 6--he has time for all these things because, to hreichgott's point about middle school, 1) he has close to zero homework, tests for which to study, and whatever else older children/teenagers have on their school plate, and 2) none of his extracurriculars other than piano require much commitment at this stage.

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#2247599 - 03/16/14 06:19 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Chopin himself recommended no more than 2 hours of practice for his students - as long as it was mindful practice and not blind repetition.

I believe that is a typo. Chopin recommend no more than 3 hrs. Funny, I was reading students' letters of Chopin's teaching when this topic started, otherwise, I would have missed it entirely.

This was reported by student Camille Dubois.
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#2247608 - 03/16/14 06:56 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Chopin himself recommended no more than 2 hours of practice for his students - as long as it was mindful practice and not blind repetition.

I believe that is a typo. Chopin recommend no more than 3 hrs. Funny, I was reading students' letters of Chopin's teaching when this topic started, otherwise, I would have missed it entirely.

This was reported by student Camille Dubois.

You are correct. smile
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#2247682 - 03/16/14 10:15 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
Bobpickle Offline

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#2247685 - 03/16/14 10:24 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
keystring Offline
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That said, I believe that when a 7 year old child has practised what he is to practise, and "practised well" as per the video, then that child should be free to also play the piano for the pure enjoyment of it. When she says to not practise what you can already do well, I believe that during the enjoyment part, that is exactly what the child should be allowed to do. Playing an instrument has the word "play" - and it should be a thing to enjoy.

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#2247724 - 03/17/14 12:08 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Bobpickle]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Bob, I'm a bit confused here. I thought Ms. Frank was a superb violinist, not a pianist, even though she's sitting in front of a nice Steinway. Is she also accomplished at piano? Her dad is a famous pianist and it would be interesting to have asked him about his practice habits.
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#2247856 - 03/17/14 11:14 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: keystring]
Peter K. Mose Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
That said, I believe that when a 7 year old child has practised what he is to practise, and "practised well" as per the video, then that child should be free to also play the piano for the pure enjoyment of it. When she says to not practise what you can already do well, I believe that during the enjoyment part, that is exactly what the child should be allowed to do. Playing an instrument has the word "play" - and it should be a thing to enjoy.


Bravo, keystring! Your observations hold for a piano student of any age, and are often forgotten.


Edited by Peter K. Mose (03/17/14 11:14 AM)

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#2248018 - 03/17/14 05:30 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
Gary D. Online   content
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1) No one practices every day. No one. Every day means 365 days a year. No time off for a birthday, a holiday, a sick day, and so on.

2) There is no right amount of time to play for anyone of any age.

3) One half hour of focus beats 3 hours of scattered thinking.

4) Chopin, as far as I know, did not teach 6 year-olds. smile

For most 6 year-olds 1.5 hours a day is too much. Most of mine don't concentrate well after about 20 minutes. But we do not know this child.

1.5 hours on MOST days could be healthy if there is a true love for music. So let's not be too quick to judge.
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#2248020 - 03/17/14 05:39 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Gary, you really made me laugh on this one. Of course, Chopin didn't teach 6 yr olds, but I'm fairly certain M's point was that if 3 hrs is more than sufficient for an adult, it would be overkill for a child. OBTW, Chopin charged roughly $300/hr, so I wonder how many parents with that kind of moolah would spend it on lessons.
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#2248028 - 03/17/14 05:49 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
ezpiano.org Offline
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Loc: Irvine, CA
Originally Posted By: John
OBTW, Chopin charged roughly $300/hr


Is that the amount after inflation and translated to today's economy?
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#2248046 - 03/17/14 06:41 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: ezpiano.org]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Chopin received 1 ea Louis d'Or per lesson,




with a gold content of 0.2255 troy oz. At today's rate, that's $308 even. While gold fluctuates against major currencies, it has pretty much held it's purchasing power over the past 2,000 years.
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#2248047 - 03/17/14 06:42 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
Cardinal201 Offline
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Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 100
Thank you, Bobpickle, for the video, and keystring, for the additional observation! I do think of "practicing" piano as separate from "playing" piano--my son does both, but I was only referring to actual "practice" time in my original post. Gary D., I should have said "virtually" every day. smile. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the kid splits his practice time into three ~30 minute sessions to maximize focus.

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#2248053 - 03/17/14 06:53 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
MaggieGirl Offline
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Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 488
I have been mulling this over...my kid loves to draw/read/write, my friend's daughter loves basketball, another is a Jr Oly swimmer. None of us could tell you how long they practice those skills on their own. Sure teachers and coaches are involved and we can name the lessons we paid for. But to say - she practices 90 minutes a day, 7 days a week would be unheard of unless they were parent structured minutes. The swimmer jumps in his pool, the other practices in her yard, and mine is squirreled away.

The parent would say, he is always playing around at the piano, he loves it so much. The flavor of this post does not suggest child driven joy at piano. It sounds of parent observed structure.

They are very different scenarios. A parent with a malleable child can make them practice as much as the parent insists.

For the comment of will the time get longer and longer...it will only get as long as you - the parent wants it to get. If his life is balanced with time for rest, eating, school work, friends, parks, sports, music, and day dreaming then it cannot consume his time. If you let his life get bigger in other areas, piano can only take up so much of it. If you don't, then there will be as much piano as you want.

(caveat: parent only, not a teacher)


Edited by MaggieGirl (03/17/14 06:58 PM)

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#2248093 - 03/17/14 08:28 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
keystring Offline
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My comment was in the wake of the video by Pamela Frank. Although she is a violinist, as pointed out by John, her advice is general and I think is valid for any instrument, namely:
- shorter time of focused practise is effective: lengthy distracted practice is not
- practice the things that need work, rather than what you can already do well

I do think these points are correct (they're also obvious). But I also wanted to stress that music is also for enjoyment, and room should be made for that. Thank you, Peter, for supporting that. smile

Something else that was pointed out today is that if a student practices effectively, those habits will even filter into his leisure playing. They become automatic, and that is a happy thought.

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#2248181 - 03/18/14 01:39 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
Opus_Maximus Online   content
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Registered: 11/27/04
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Originally Posted By: Cardinal201
At what point, typically, does continuing to progress start to interfere with other activities and students need to make some tough choices?


I think it really just depends on how much priority piano retains throughout the course of his life as a student. If the love for music remains intact above all other loves, there is no reason any "tough" choices need be made.

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#2248221 - 03/18/14 05:57 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Online   content
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Originally Posted By: keystring

- practice the things that need work, rather than what you can already do well

Correct, but dangerous. If you only practice what needs work, you lose confidence, and you don't hear music coming out of your practice.

I would suggest rather to toggle between what most needs work (weaknesses) and laser focus on things you already do WELL.

You do the hard practice on weaknesses, but then you take some things that you have success with, things that you feel good about, and then you concentrate on a couple places that are not almost perfect. This is still "what needs work", but it has a different feel to it.
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#2248239 - 03/18/14 07:56 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Gary D.]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: keystring

- practice the things that need work, rather than what you can already do well

Correct, but dangerous. If you only practice what needs work, you lose confidence, and you don't hear music coming out of your practice.

I would suggest rather to toggle between what most needs work (weaknesses) and laser focus on things you already do WELL.

You do the hard practice on weaknesses, but then you take some things that you have success with, things that you feel good about, and then you concentrate on a couple places that are not almost perfect. This is still "what needs work", but it has a different feel to it.


This is what I do and what I recommend. Sometimes, I will just focus on what needs work due to limited practice time, and then every few days play straight through to see the progress I've made. That is enough for me, but everyone's different.

I think for a child of 7, the focus should be more on the having fun playing aspect while slowly integrating good practice techniques over time. That way it doesn't become too much of a burden, but progress is made and they begin to see how much fun it is when you can accomplish something really hard.

I haven't heard this child nor observed him practicing to say whether or not he is being burdened at this point.
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#2248270 - 03/18/14 09:31 AM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: keystring

- practice the things that need work, rather than what you can already do well

Correct, but dangerous. If you only practice what needs work, you lose confidence, and you don't hear music coming out of your practice.

I would suggest rather to toggle between what most needs work (weaknesses) and laser focus on things you already do WELL.

You do the hard practice on weaknesses, but then you take some things that you have success with, things that you feel good about, and then you concentrate on a couple places that are not almost perfect. This is still "what needs work", but it has a different feel to it.

Yes. I think that is why I had the gut reaction, after watching that video, of immediately interjecting that playing for enjoyment should also be part of what a student does - especially for a young child. It was an instant feeling.

I was not that impressed with the video, and it wasn't because she was a violinist. Her advice was simplistic, sometimes insulting (don't practice while watching tv), and the fact that she herself practices one hour has nothing to do with students still developing skills.

When I read about the child in question, he practises and he also plays for enjoyment. If that is so, what is there to fix?

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#2248391 - 03/18/14 01:32 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: John v.d.Brook]
David Farley Online   content
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Registered: 10/27/13
Posts: 364
Loc: Illinois
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Chopin received 1 ea Louis d'Or per lesson,




with a gold content of 0.2255 troy oz. At today's rate, that's $308 even. While gold fluctuates against major currencies, it has pretty much held it's purchasing power over the past 2,000 years.


If Chopin reappeared and was offering $300 piano lessons, I'd be running to the ATM.

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#2248530 - 03/18/14 06:38 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: MaggieGirl]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
I have been mulling this over...my kid loves to draw/read/write, my friend's daughter loves basketball, another is a Jr Oly swimmer. None of us could tell you how long they practice those skills on their own. Sure teachers and coaches are involved and we can name the lessons we paid for. But to say - she practices 90 minutes a day, 7 days a week would be unheard of unless they were parent structured minutes. The swimmer jumps in his pool, the other practices in her yard, and mine is squirreled away.

The parent would say, he is always playing around at the piano, he loves it so much. The flavor of this post does not suggest child driven joy at piano. It sounds of parent observed structure.

They are very different scenarios. A parent with a malleable child can make them practice as much as the parent insists.

For the comment of will the time get longer and longer...it will only get as long as you - the parent wants it to get. If his life is balanced with time for rest, eating, school work, friends, parks, sports, music, and day dreaming then it cannot consume his time. If you let his life get bigger in other areas, piano can only take up so much of it. If you don't, then there will be as much piano as you want.

(caveat: parent only, not a teacher)

Well, as a teacher I would very much agree with what you wrote. smile
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#2248532 - 03/18/14 06:40 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Online   content
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Chopin received 1 ea Louis d'Or per lesson,




with a gold content of 0.2255 troy oz. At today's rate, that's $308 even. While gold fluctuates against major currencies, it has pretty much held it's purchasing power over the past 2,000 years.

He had to buy a lot of gloves. smile
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#2248546 - 03/18/14 07:14 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Gary D.]
jdw Offline
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Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: keystring

- practice the things that need work, rather than what you can already do well

Correct, but dangerous. If you only practice what needs work, you lose confidence, and you don't hear music coming out of your practice.



Yes! and also dangerous because, if you leave things in a neglected "already do well" category for too long.... they become not so great, and then you lose even more confidence.
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#2300296 - 07/09/14 03:04 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
Cardinal201 Offline
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Registered: 08/19/12
Posts: 100
Bumping this thread as, in a quasi-experiment of sorts, I actually timed my kiddo at the piano the other day... Over the course of the afternoon and early evening, he was at the piano for over 3 hours but only practiced about half that time (it was almost exactly half, so interesting!). Talk about inefficient practice, haha! I never realized how much time he spends just stretching. Is that maybe a sign that practice is quite physically tiring for him? I asked him if he'd rather do something else (go outside, play a game, read a book, etc.), but nope!

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#2300346 - 07/09/14 04:49 PM Re: Increasing practice time [Re: Cardinal201]
Gary D. Online   content
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Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Cardinal201
Bumping this thread as, in a quasi-experiment of sorts, I actually timed my kiddo at the piano the other day... Over the course of the afternoon and early evening, he was at the piano for over 3 hours but only practiced about half that time (it was almost exactly half, so interesting!). Talk about inefficient practice, haha! I never realized how much time he spends just stretching. Is that maybe a sign that practice is quite physically tiring for him? I asked him if he'd rather do something else (go outside, play a game, read a book, etc.), but nope!

Watch kids playing their favorite video games, then see how much time spend stretching. smile

The whole problem is that practice and play do not become the same thing. "Play" means have fun. Practice means do it right. When doing it right becomes fun, the avoidance stops.
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