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What Should Practice Time Look Like?

For most children, it will be best to spend a day or two practicing on their own between watching new lessons. So what should that practice time look like? Here’s a suggested practice routine which you can customize to fit your own child’s needs:metronome isolated on a white background

  • Start by practicing the most recent song from the lessons. Try to play it through three to five times, depending on your child’s attention span. Sometimes I ask a child to “play your age”, so a 7-year-old would play the song 7 times. To keep things interesting, don’t play it the exact same way every time. You can try playing in the right hand, left hand, or both hands together. Also try playing higher or lower on the piano, or with eyes closed!
  • Review other recent lessons that haven’t been completely mastered. Try one of our practice games to encourage improvement.
  • Play through all of the songs learned since the beginning of the Unit. Playing along with our practice CD is a good way to do this. Make sure both the right hand and the left hand are getting a turn to play each song, so both hands can develop evenly.

Practice sessions should be short and sweet. End the session before your child is getting uncomfortable. Ten to fifteen minutes is a good practice session for a beginner, gradually moving up to twenty minutes by the time a child reaches Unit 3. Some students, especially younger students, may do better with several short practice periods rather than one longer session.

To learn more about the importance of regular practice, read The Power of Deliberate Practice and The Cycle of Success.

 

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4 Responses to What Should Practice Time Look Like?

  1. I discovered that with my 6-year old 20 minutes is the maximum amount of time he can practice before he starts to lose focus. Usually I’m having to reel him in after 10-15 minutes. As we progressed through Unit 1 there ended up too many things to practice in that time frame each practice session. So, I wrote a bunch of different things to practice on little pieces of paper and put them into a box. Whenever it is time to practice I have him pull out pieces of paper one at a time and practice whatever is on the paper. Our goal is 1 paper for each year of his age, so 6 for now. Sometimes I’ll also throw in the last song her learned before pulling papers just to make sure he gets that one in. I also threw in a few “YOU PICK” pieces of paper so he can choose what he wants to work on. This has been working out great.

    • For a beginning pianist that age, I would agree that 20 minutes is plenty for practice time. Your “practice box” is a wonderful idea! It incorporates several items that are valuable motivators: variety, fun, and a way for the child to “take ownership” of their practice time. Keep up the great work! – Mr. Hoffman

    • That depends on the song. With earlier songs, like Hot Cross Buns and 5 Woodpeckers, “both hands” means both hands playing the same notes. Later on, when you learn how to play chords, then you will play chords in one hand while the other hand plays the melody. I hope this helps!

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