How loooooooooong do I have to practice?
by: m. moser
Another frequently asked question is... How long do I have to practice? Well, that's a tougher question to answer because it requires the parent and young musician to get to know each other more! This does go along the same lines as... I know he likes the color blue or that she prefers to wake up to the radio versus the alarm clock.
There is no "formula"; which, is why this can be such a challenge. As a rule of thumb - ask the following ... does it feel easy yet? Drilling is our best friend, but only when used wisely! Drilling is typically playing a passage/section multiple multiple times. However, this should NEVER be done mindlessly because it results in fruitless work. Have a goal in mind and repeat it until it is easy. You can mindlessly play something 50 times that if done thoughtfully 20x will achieve better results.
For example, Today, I am going to play the first two notes of Twinkle and I'm going to have a good posture. This is fantastic and something that will be needed from now until your child plays a Mozart Violin concerto! DO NOT get distracted and start mentioning that the bow was not straight. Focus on the task at hand and repeat until success is secure. Give yourself a goal... 10x, and once you reach that goal you can add 5x at a time if needed. If you're exhausted you're done for the day. If both of you are not exhausted and you are able to practice more THEN perhaps you can add the focus of having a straight bow. It begins by setting up that good posture (reinforcing the work already done) and playing those two notes with a straight bow. Again, have a goal of 10x and 5x at a time if needed. Repeat the set up and execution until you achieve ease or you sense that either of you are getting tired. Again, be careful to NOT get disctracted.
The beauty of this type of practice is that your musician will begin to develop a discerning ear and will be able to wrinkle their nose when they play and it is not to their liking. Then, they will willingly play it again. So, the question will not be - how long do I have to practice, but they will practice until it is easy. :)