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The Importance of Daily Practice

By Hoffman Academy Team
Daily Practice

The number one factor in learning any skill is simply the time spent doing it. Talent or interest may help you get started, but what counts in the long run is practice. That’s part of what makes consistent, daily practice so important for learning to play the piano.

To help illustrate this point, imagine two beginning piano students, one who practices every day, six days a week, for twenty minutes each session, and another who only practices a couple of times a week for twenty minutes each session. Let’s see how their practice time adds up.

The practice gap

After one week, the first student will have spent 120 minutes at the keyboard, while the second student will have practiced for only 40 minutes. At this point student number two is already an hour behind student number one, after only one week! The gap widens as time goes on. After a month, student number one has practiced for eight hours, while student number two has only practiced for about two-and-a-half hours. By the end of a year, the student who practices twenty minutes a day has practiced a little over one hundred hours, while the student who practices only twice a week has a total of about thirty-five hours.

Talent vs. time at the keyboard

Are you going to hear a difference between these two students as they play? Absolutely! It doesn’t matter which one had more “talent” at the outset. The student who has been at the piano longer will have learned more, will sound more confident, and will probably be enjoying their piano studies more than a student who has not practiced consistently. What determines if a piano student will do well? It’s a decision you make every single day when you choose to practice.

How will daily instrument practice help you?

Daily instrument practice is vital for a pianist as it can boost your musical interest, increase your theory knowledge, strengthen your technical skills, and help establish and fulfill specific goals. Consistent practice allows for continuous growth and improvement, which will help build you a deeper appreciation for and proficiency in music. 

Motivation to practice an instrument daily

Are you struggling with a lack of motivation to practice? There are lots of ways that you can help get yourself motivated. The easiest one is: do you like the music that you are playing? What kind of music do you like? It’s important to play music that you enjoy, whether that be pop music like Taylor Swift or Beyoncé, classical music like Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” or film music like the theme from Indiana Jones.

Implementing reward-based systems and practice games can enhance your motivation to practice an instrument daily. Here’s an example of a reward-based system: record your daily practice on a calendar. If you practice at least 20 minutes consistently for a full week, then you go out to your favorite ice cream store or restaurant on the weekend. Also, games such as Hoffman Academy’s online games, like Piano Street, Staff Crawler, and Rhythm Train, or our printable board games like Practice Safari can make practice fun and engaging. By incorporating these resources and elements into your practice routine, you can remain motivated and committed to improving your skills on the instrument.

How much practice does it take to learn an instrument?

How much practice it takes to learn an instrument depends on what your goals are. Are you planning on playing for fun at home, to play for friends and family, to play with singers or instrumentalists, or are you interested in being a concert pianist? The level of proficiency that you want to aim for determines the amount of time that you should dedicate to practicing. Check out our practice calculator and more information on this topic in our article How Long Will It Take to Learn the Piano.

As with anything, consistent practice is really the most important key to success. So as long as you practice and stay focused for at least 20 minutes every day, you will see progress and can accomplish your goals. As the music gets more challenging, we recommend that you extend the daily amount of time that you practice. 

How to practice the piano effectively each day

What is practice? Is it just running through a song or piece of music and calling it done? Not exactly. Practice should always be a dedicated time to focus on your needs as a musician. Make sure to accomplish your goals first, then it’s not a problem to have some fun! So, what counts as practice?

  1. It’s important to always start with warm-ups, such as pentascales, octave scales, arpeggios, inversions, or other technical exercises you know or are learning. 
  2. Next, with your songs or pieces of music, make sure that you focus first on the most difficult sections. Practice these sections slowly and pay special attention to your dynamics (soft and loud), articulations (staccato, slurs, etc.), fingerings, make sure your movements feel good and are sustainable, and that you are sitting with good posture. Try hands separately first before putting the hands together. Once the notes are in your fingers, it’s always a good idea to practice with a metronome, starting slowly at first, then gradually increasing the tempo. Repetition is really important, so make sure that you are practicing these difficult sections carefully and repetitively to get the movements worked into your body.
  3. When you’ve done this, check out the rest of the song or piece of music and see how the work has paid off. Don’t worry if you’re not seeing an improvement yet – this is a process and the progress takes time to show. Take a break and come back tomorrow and try again!
  4. Doing theory pages counts as practice too!
  5. Now that you’ve done these things, let’s do something fun! This can be listening to music. Start with the music that you’re playing, then branch out to something else, like music you enjoy!
  6. Another fun thing you can do is practice sight reading or improvisation. These things may sound boring if you’re unfamiliar with them, but being good at sight-reading allows you to play music on the first try without too much practice. And it still sounds good! Improvisation is also fun, because if you know how, you can enjoy creating your own music!
  7. As we said before, make sure to take breaks so that all of the practice is intentional and focused.
  8. It’s also really important to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Check out this article for more information on why

Check out these Hoffman Academy resources for daily practice!

Learn piano faster with Hoffman Academy Premium Membership! Sign up for your account here.

Now that you have a long list of resources, know the importance of practicing, and have ideas on how to practice well, we hope that you enjoy the art of creating music. Stay focused, healthy, and have fun!

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