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#951951 - 02/20/07 12:02 PM Practice time expected for students
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Hi Everyone,

Understanding that each student is different, I am curious what other teachers expect as far as practice time each week for students of different ages and levels? Does anyone have any standard expectations, say for beginners and intermediate students? Also, do you ask each song to be practiced a certain number of times or give a time limit?

Parents on the board, how long do you expect your children to practice each day, and how many times through a piece?
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#951952 - 02/20/07 12:31 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
piano_mom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/02/05
Posts: 170
Loc: U. S. A.
Hi Stephanie,

My 10 year old son practices 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
He does not practice on the lesson day, and a day when he
has lots of homework. He practices technique twice and
other songs three times.

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#951953 - 02/20/07 01:05 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Good topic. I'd love to find out what other kids are doing.

My son (6.75 years old) practises 30 minutes a day, 5 or 6 times a week. He takes this fine, especially when he really likes the pieces. He practises Hanon for once or twice, and then the pieces. His teacher tends to give him lots and lots of pieces at the same time (for example right now he has 10 pieces on the list). If he practises all pieces he might only have time to play each once or twice. Sometimes I let him practise half of the pieces everyday so he can play each piece a bit more, maybe a couple times plus the trouble spots.

Sounds reasonable?

I kind of hope there are fewer assignments so my son has more time to do the "fun" stuff. He used to write his own little pieces and plays around with transposition, but hasn't got the time to do it recently.

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#951954 - 02/20/07 02:01 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
Stephanie`

Good topic. I expect my kids (8,11, 15) to practice their instruments about 30 minutes a day, but more than clock watching, I really want them to just have the habit of doing it. I do insist on a short practice at home, shortly after the lesson to review and write down (clearly and exactly) what needs to be done. Especially for the older children this gets them focused on what needs to be done rather than so many minutes, repetitions etc. My older children play in ensembles and that is a good incentive to practice

I plan to practice for an hour a day but call it a good day when I get 45 minutes in.

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#951955 - 02/20/07 03:22 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I require 5 days a week practice but have no set amount of time. I write the days of the week out at the top of their assignment page and ask them to put a check in the box if they practiced that day. I used to have a "fancier" sheet for recording practice but switched to this version. I'd like to see consistent weekly practice over how much time per day and as mentioned I'd prefer the emphasis not to be put on the amount of time per day but what was practiced. I ask the students if I can tell they probably just played a piece through once or twice a day, "how did you go about practicing this over the week?" Then we talk about how to break it down for the next week. Or if a student played a piece really well, I say, "you obviously have practiced this a lot, how did you go about practicing it?" Then I praise them by saying "those are some good ways to go about practicing your pieces."

I just expect them to practice the assignment and usually write a couple extra ideas at the bottom they can add if they need more to do over the week.

For some students who tend to play the piece from beginning to end one or two times a day and say their done or those who tend to play the piece from beginning to end over and over, I write a more specific assignment like, "practice each phrase X times per day." I leave it up to the student more if they are good about practicing different ways and dividing up the piece on their own.

This is a good topic as I'm interested in how many times other teachers would require a student to practice a certain segment and how do you split up a piece, for example, do you have them practice by measure, line, phrase, or section, etc? One of my students always told me about a friend of hers taking lessons from another teacher who required the student to practice a little fraction of a piece something like 20 times. I always wonder if I'm not requiring enough repetitions per day of a certain item.

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#951956 - 02/20/07 03:28 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Ken Knapp Offline



Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2234
Loc: Pennsylvania
I try to practice an hour a day every day. Of course, I NEED the practice!!

Ken
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#951957 - 02/20/07 03:51 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I usually focus on how many times I want each item practiced by students. Usually it is something like 2-3 times each scale, 2-3 times for a short technical exercise and 5 times for a piece. If there is a tough section in the repertoire, I will usually add in some extra repetitions on the tricky section.

I do have some students though who will tend to blow through each song the required number of times at warp speed without stopping to fix anything. Because of that I have started giving parents a good idea of how long their practicing should take and what I want them to focus on. I also have a practice chart that I have my parents initial for each day practiced, and I ask for a minimum of 5 days.

Actually I am also handing out a reminder notice this week to ask parents not to initial the practice chart unless the student practices everything on the list. Lately I have had some students show up with a signed practice chart only to discover that they only practiced two of the items listed in their notebook. It is tough because I rely on the parents to sign for proper practice and in a few cases the parents will sign when proper practice doesn't take place. Of course I can tell right away whether my students have actually practiced, but then what do you do accuse the parents of lying? I am hoping my general practice reminder notice will get the point across.
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#951958 - 02/20/07 03:57 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
NancyM333 Offline
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Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
My children's teacher requires 30 minutes per day for elementary students, 45 for middle school, and an hour a day for high school students. Most of these students have two lessons per week, so this practice would be 5 days per week. She asks an hour of her adultstudents also, but most of them only go to a lesson every other week.

Nancy
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#951959 - 02/20/07 04:16 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10362
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
When my son started, at age 8, we required 30 minutes per day, seven days per week. He had no particular rules about practicing things twice or three times, because I have always worked with him in breaking pieces apart to work on separate problem measures or phrases.

In his second year his practice time went up to 45 minutes per day, but I think it moved toward an hour per day by the end of that year. The third year he practiced an hour per day as well, but it moved toward 1:15 by the end of the year. In his fourth year he started doing 1.5 hours per day, except when school work or other things intervened, though he usually did extra on the weekends.

Last year we firmly established 1.5 hours per day as the accepted minimum and he tried for 2 hours per day on the weekends. This year he has maintained the 1.5 hours per days on school days. Again there is an exception for days when other work piles up. He usually plays 2.5-3 hours per day on the weekend.

I think a regimen of this sort is essential if a student is going to make rapid progress. Having said that, rapid progess isn't absolutely essential if what you really want to do is create a person with a lifelong love of music!
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#951960 - 02/20/07 09:02 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
ftp Offline
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Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Philadelphia
Our 12 year old practices 1 hour a day during the week and 1.5 hours on weekend days. (was actually doing more before changing teachers-but that's another story) 10 year old 45min and 1hour respectively. Generally, we've gradually moved the time up according to their ability to handle it. The older could do more but I see other activities on the rise and don't want to be in a position of having to decrease the time in the coming years.

At this rate, they won't become concert pianists but they seem to be comfortable with their relationship with the piano and if they want to do more-we'll clear the decks.

It is a seven day a week thing, with the exception of very unusual other events.

It's a tricky balancing act and I haven't even hit the trying years yet so I have no idea how it will all turn out.

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#951961 - 02/20/07 09:33 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
As a kid... my motivation is VERY high. My parents don't know much about music. My teacher suggests that I play 25 minutes per day. I try to practice 2 hours per day minimum (i'll sometimes eat lunch and run to the music room at school for 20 minutes) on the weekends, I like to get in 3 hours which usually ends up being 2 hours. ;\)


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#951962 - 02/21/07 08:52 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
sarabande Offline
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Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
When I was taking lessons as a child through teenage years, all my teachers suggested 30 min. per day practice. When I went to college, just for a B.A. in Music the minimum required practice time was 5 days a week, 2 hours per day. I was so suprised. I didn't even know anyone practiced that long! If I would have realized that as a teen when I started becoming serious about a possible career in music, I would have practiced a lot more.

Also, I heard from a prof. of piano that practices about 5 hours a day when he has upcoming concerts. I was so suprised at that too. Again if I would have known when young how much those in the performance profession like concert pianists practice, I would have been practicing a lot more. I just assumed when young that everyone practiced the standard 30 minutes and that was all it took to get good at piano playing. \:\)

It's been mentioned in the thread that some students keep increasing the minutes the longer they have been studying and the more advanced their music becomes. I feel this is necessary too. I've had students that I have required a minimum of 15 - 20 min. per day when on primer and level 1 books at 7 or 8 years old. But they get used to the 20 min. requirement and 20 min. of course doesn't cut it at the intermediate levels! I think it's a good idea to require X amount more time per day for each level of difficulty and for number of years the student has been taking lessons so the student realizes this at the onset when they start lessons.

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#951963 - 02/21/07 09:42 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
That's a good point about habituation. If students become habituated to 30 minutes per day they may resist changing that number. You may avoid future problems by letting them and their parents know right from the start that practice time increases with age and level.

In my early teens (14, 15) I was practising perhaps 45 minutes to an hour per day on my crappy Gulbransen vertical from the dark ages. Then my pushy mother (bless her) had me audition at the U. of Miami. For strange and fortuitous reasons the prof. accepted me, but the conditions included a two hour per day absolute minimum of practice. Three hours was the recommended level. At age 16 I bought into this. Part of the sweetner was a brand spanking new 5'9" grand!

That professor told me point blank later on that she regretted not getting a hold of me years earlier when there would have been a chance to change my trajectory in a major way. As it was, she worked minor miracles on me, in part because she increased my self-discipline! Practice time is KEY (pun intended).

Cheers,

David
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#951964 - 02/21/07 12:58 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7368
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Dorrie, your 8 yr old is probably practicing about right. But how is it possible that your 11 & 15 yr olds can practice only 30 min each? Are they just beginners?

I have found that most 3rd graders can easily focus on their practice, if someone is close by to help them focus, for 45 - 55 min daily.

Like childofparadise2002's teacher, I assign sufficient material (age and skill appropriate, of course) to keep middle school students busy for 90 minutes or more, and high schooler's for several hours daily. Most of mine report long hours on weekends, shorter hours during the week. Seems appropriate.

What many students find necessary is to break practice into multiple daily sessions. 50-55 minutes is a good solid practice block for older students.

By the way, for you to parent 3 students and still be able to squeeze in 45 minutes of practice is some sort of miricle in my book. Congratulations.
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#951965 - 02/21/07 01:39 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
John -

My kids usually practice more - I simply won't fight to make them do more.

My little one had pretty severe ADHD and does pratice in several small bits. He was born with some congenital hand problems and his plastic surgeon recommended keyboarding lessons to improve his finger independence.

The older children do not play piano - my daughter (11) plays cello (and gets about 30 minutes a day at school in group lessons/rehersal in addition to home pratice). So she really is practicing closer to an hour a day.

My eldest did piano and cello for years and fought practice at every turn, although he loved performing and truly loves music. Finally his teacher said - practice more, or quit. So he quit. After a fallow year or so he asked for classical guitar. I found a very low key teacher and he seems to be having more fun. I am happy music is part of his life and am not tempted to push further.

I understand now as a parent, that 1) near daily practice is really necessary and 2) the closer you can get to 7-9 hours of practice a week, the better the progress seems to be. Until I played an instrument myself, I really didn't have a clue, and the information I got from their very well intentioned teachers actually was pretty useless in helping me help them practice.

I don't expect any of these kids to reach advanced levels on their instrument, but I hope they will enjoy music throughout their lifetime.


For me, John I am blessed with a need for very little sleep. And I am ruthlessly organized with my own practice. After each lesson I list goals and tasks that need to be accomplished. While I agree with you that 50 minute sessions are great, i have found that if I plan carefully, a 30 minute long session, and then 2-3 10 minute sessions can work well. It takes 10 minutes for pasta to cook - well a student at my level (about 2 years of lessons) has plenty of tasks that fit into ten minutes (review, Hanon drills, sightreading etc).

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#951966 - 02/21/07 01:53 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by John v.d.Brook:
I have found that most 3rd graders can easily focus on their practice, if someone is close by to help them focus, for 45 - 55 min daily. [/b]
That's the key right there. It makes all the difference when parents moniter the practicing to make sure it is being done effectively. Not so much hovering over their shoulder, but at least listening from the kitchen and providing encouragement and help when necessary. Not to mention to make sure actual practicing gets done. It actually amazes me when parents don't ever listen to the practicing, which I have had a few problems with when students have digital pianos at home. I have had a talk with a few parents about the importance of listening to the practicing rather than shoving headphones at them and assuming that they are practicing properly.
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#951967 - 02/22/07 01:09 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
MrsSV Offline
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Registered: 07/21/06
Posts: 519
My daughter's teacher does not expect a certain amount of time spent (on a clock) but a certain amount of times on each assignment. I think it's because of her age. I know she has students who practice 2 hours daily but they are 10-11 years old. In other words she will tell her to go through a new 2-octave scale (and arpeggio) hands alone 3 times, hands together 3 times (that's kinda like 9 times)...and review all other scales/arpeggios 1 time daily. Her other music varies- from 2-5 times per piece. This takes longer than 30 min. usually (especially with so many scales) and other exercises (Schmitt, Czerny) which are daily, plus there are finger exercises. Usually she has 4-6 pieces of music as well. Daughter LOVES Czerny.

Her teacher requires 5 times a week practice. But we do 7, sort of. On the lesson day she runs through every assignment 1 time- and then no practice the rest of that day/night. So, it's more like 6 days a week of true practice. This is not a pressure type of thing with her- she loves it.

I think eventually as her practice time grows in length I will break it into more than 1 period of time daily. Like,a couple of exercises and couple of pieces of music early in the day and ther rest of the exercises and music later in the day.

If she is having a bad day with a specific assignment I have her put it away for a few hours and then go back to it later. That happens once in awhile.

Now my oldest daughter (years ago)- 30 min. a day, 5 times a week...and it was a real pain to get her to put in the practice time. I still remember what a pain it was (for me)...and I don't recall her enjoying it at the time either!

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#951968 - 02/22/07 01:16 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
20-30 minutes 5 days a week for beginners

45 minutes 5 days a week at the intermediate level

1.5-2 hours 6 days a week for advanced students

3-4 hours a day 6 days a week for high school students hoping to pursue a degree in music


In all of those, the "...days a week" clause is the more important.
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#951969 - 02/22/07 01:39 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
MrsSV Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/06
Posts: 519
 Quote:
Parents on the board, how long do you expect your children to practice each day, and how many times through a piece?
Short answer- I expect what the teacher assigns her- x number of times per piece 5 times a week.

But my daughter always does more (times and days).

Looking at Kreisler's numbers was helpful- and my daughter is close to that but not exact. She's intermediate level and practices 25-40 min. daily, but usually 6 times/week.

She's such a perfectionist within herself, she would just keep practicing more and more but I usually have her stop at whatever the assignment says. If it says 3 times, then 3 times it is. She usually wants to practice far more than the assignment. At her age I feel like I need to guard her from burnout- maybe I'll wake up and realize that 'burnout' is not in her, but I still feel like I have to be on guard about it. Plus, I look at the work load she has every week in piano and I just think it's too much (of course I don't say so)...and then I watch her carry the load like it's not heavy at all. It's interesting, that's for sure.

I remember when she was evaluated last May. I asked the teacher privately, "eventually her progress will slow down as the music gets harder, right?" and the teacher shocked me with the reply "she may never slow down". I still don't grasp that but I am watching it unfold. In reality it seems like she is actually learning harder stuff faster and faster. I really don't understand it but I find it very interesting.

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#951970 - 02/22/07 07:02 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
Piano*Dad Offline
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Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Then there is that school thing that sometimes gets in the way.

30 minutes practice on piano and none on French horn yesterday. \:\(
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#951971 - 02/22/07 08:11 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
JBiegel Offline
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Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 850
Kreisler is on the money.

Flexibility is also an issue--if they rotate the various assignments so it's not the same everyday, it might help.

1: stretching exercise (a chord that fits their growing hand--each finger separately and slowly)
2: new piece
3: old piece
4: technical exercise (Czerny, Hanon, Fingerpower Books, etc based on level)
5: theory homework (Edith MacIntosh or Edna Mae Burnam or more advanced)
6: scales--review old one(s)and then new one or vice versa
7: back to new piece to finish

This is a generalization, but these items can be varied--perhaps after the stretching exercise (finger chord or something with each finger separately done 3 or 4X each), then start with item 3 and go forward, the next day item 4 starts etc. It makes it varied so it stays fresh.

Having a recording device to record the old piece when it feels right to play and hear it back may be helpful to do for the fun of it. There are millions of tactics to make that time go by without it seeming treacherous. (I like having the M&Ms around!!)
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#951972 - 02/22/07 09:02 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
sarabande Offline
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Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I encourage students to mix their assignment around each day rather than always starting with the first item and working their way through. I also give students permission to leave one item off of their assignment each day or one item each week (as long as it's not the same item every time \:D ).

Piano Dad,

I have to laugh about the french horn and piano practice. I had a student taking french horn. The school had a very strict practice requirement and if you didn't practice, it counted against your grade. So when time ran short, the student practiced the french horn over the piano which happened quite a lot. It was again because it counted for a grade where as piano didn't.

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#951973 - 02/22/07 09:50 AM Re: Practice time expected for students
JBiegel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 850
Do young students ever video tape themselves playing a piece when it gets to a certain level and share them online with friends? Or do they ever post them to YouTube? I wonder if it's a fun way to get them to perfect their pieces and post them--they get to see themselves on internet television.
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#951974 - 02/22/07 02:56 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Igor Stravinsky Offline
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Registered: 04/22/03
Posts: 231
Kreisler's post got me thinking:
Do high school students have that much time every day? My son (10 years old) is still in elementary school and every parent of bigger kids from his school of music says, "Use the elementary school years for piano practice, because when he reaches high school, it will be impossible". My son's piano practice takes up most of his time (when he is not at school, of course, or writing homework) and I cannot even imagine how he will cope with studies and piano in middle school and high school.
Any thoughts on this?

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#951975 - 02/22/07 03:50 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10362
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Does your elementary school have your son doing "insane" amounts of homework? The appropriate amount of homework to assign to young children is quite controversial and the real evidence on its effectiveness is quite limited. "Death by worksheet" is not a particularly appealing form of homework and I believe it is beginning to die out (I say, hopefully).

As children progress through middle school and into high school they learn better time-management skills, and they can get homework done more efficiently. At least that's the theory!

I have found that the big competition for time is not between homework and music but between music and other activities like after-school band, sports, and other extra-curricular activities.

A few posts up I complained about my son's inability to get his music done because of a homework flare-up. The real issue, though, is that his after-school band practice is what kept him in school all afternoon and THIS is what made homework push instrument practice to the sidelines. And there is another factor ....waiting until the last couple of days to do a major project for class. There's that time management issue!
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#951976 - 02/22/07 04:01 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Piano&Flute Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/06
Posts: 384
Loc: Alberta, Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Cephas:
Do high school students have that much time every day? My son (10 years old) is still in elementary school and every parent of bigger kids from his school of music says, "Use the elementary school years for piano practice, because when he reaches high school, it will be impossible".
Any thoughts on this? [/b]
I actually practiced more once I was in high school because by then music was such an important part of my life. It was my activity out of school. I think once children get to high school (up here around 13) whether or not they can commit to practice time becomes a matter of priority. Students who really love playing can excel, and students who are taking piano only because their parents make them will spend their time doing something else. Also, the volume of homework in high school usually causes parents and students to narrow down activities to ones that are important to them. If a 9th grade student has an activity going every day of the week everything is going to suffer. Consequently most the high school students I have had for lessons do their practicing because they love playing and have chosen to continue lessons. To force teenagers is a whole other issue.
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#951977 - 02/22/07 04:03 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
Igor Stravinsky Offline
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Registered: 04/22/03
Posts: 231
To me the amount of homework assigned in my son's school is excessive... But then maybe our time management skills need improvement. I had to cut his organ classes (and he liked them a lot) because we suddenly realized that we are overburdening him with work, plus his piano practice suffered. He doesn't have an after school band but he goes to chamber music classes once a week but his chamber music pieces require practice too. The real problem, as I see it, is that they spend what, 7 hours at school? If school started earlier and finished at around noon, then we'd be better off.

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#951978 - 02/22/07 04:05 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
I was told at the beginning of the year by a teacher[/b] that I should expect 2-3 hours of homework every night. That is what I get on average. Sometimes I'll do a "working" lunch to get a little bit ahead.

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#951979 - 02/22/07 04:13 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
NancyM333 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/06
Posts: 1547
Loc: Roswell, Georgia
 Quote:
Originally posted by StephanieF:

Parents on the board, how long do you expect your children to practice each day, and how many times through a piece? [/b]
I go by our teacher's recommendation of 30 minutes for elementary school. They go to lessons twice a week, so they practice five days per week.

As we've mentioned, though, time on task doesn't matter much if the time is poorly spent. I've tried to work with my boys on what is actually "practice," and what is playing, playing around, and clocking bench time. I do think I they could use a bit more structure from their teacher on this also, so I will mention it to her.

Homework is a huge issue at our house as well (my kids are in 5th grade). I have to admit that being a parent has completely changed how I use homework as a teacher.

Nancy
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Estonia 168, Yamaha UX3

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#951980 - 02/22/07 04:22 PM Re: Practice time expected for students
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
20-30 minutes 5 days a week for beginners

45 minutes 5 days a week at the intermediate level

1.5-2 hours 6 days a week for advanced students

3-4 hours a day 6 days a week for high school students hoping to pursue a degree in music


In all of those, the "...days a week" clause is the more important. [/b]
That is exactly what was expected of me when I was younger. The funny thing is if you don't count the minutes right down to the wire, the practicing just takes its course and the time increases with the complexity of the music.

In my high school years, I was doing the 3-4 hours a day plus longer on weekends.

John
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