We are often asked, "How much time should my child practice?" We encourage all of our students to practice every day. However, in today's busy world, there will be days when practicing is almost impossible. So, we encourage students to practice every day and when a day comes and goes without practicing, it will not have an effect on the student's progress. Four to five days a week is the minimum needed for progress to happen.
HOW MUCH SHOULD STUDENTS PRACTICE EACH DAY?
The amount of time will vary depending on the material the student is learning for the week. For 4th graders, 10-15 minutes a day should be enough in the beginning months. Later, this time can increase to 15-25 minutes.
Each week, your child is given an assignment to practice at home. At the next lesson, they will play their assigned pieces. If the student has practiced enough, we continue on to the next step. If your child has not learned the lesson, we will spend another week working on it. After a few weeks of not practicing, your child will be behind others and it is often difficult to catch up. So, practice is very important when learning a new instrument.
Please remember that in order to learn any new skill, practice is required. Some students will learn more quickly while others may have to work harder to learn a lesson. This is the same in music as it is in math or science class. All children can learn to play music. The children will know when they have practiced enough. Do not make practice a negative thing. Help your child find a time during the day when remembering to practice is easy. After school, during homework time, after supper, before bedtime, even before breakfast have all been times that have worked for students. Practicing is your child's orchestra homework.
Make practice fun for your child by listening to them every once in a while. Have them put on a mini recital for you or other relatives. Have your child teach you how to play something on their instrument. Children learn immensely when they become the teacher. Encourage them in any way!
Shary Birdsong and Lori Carlson,
Winona Area Public Schools Elementary Orchestras