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The question of practicing has been a perennial topic of discussion between instrumental music teachers and their students. Yet, despite the growing body of evidence on effective practicing, many teachers rely on their own experience as learners and their teaching observations and continue to issue the same advice to their students.
Hallam (1997a) defines the musical practice as a multi-faceted activity. She suggests that an important dimension of learning to practice concerns how well a student can develop technical skills, music interpretation, ability to play from memory, and overcome performance stress.
These technical, cognitive, and performance skills cannot be acquired by repetition alone. Therefore, teachers must continue to offer practical advice on how to practice differently at various stages of learning. In the last 15 years researchers have coined several terms to describe different types of practice:
the deliberate practice focuses on achieving specific goals (Ericsson, 1997; Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Romer, 1993);
formal practice demonstrates deliberate effort (Sloboda, Davidson, Howe, & Moore, 1996);
informal practice constitutes enjoyable leisure music-making (Sloboda, Davidson, Howe, & Moore, 1996);
the structured practice involves a detailed regime and sequence of practicing (Rosenshine, Froehlich, & Fakhouri, 2002);
the unstructured practice involves freedom to practice in any order and with no particular goals (Barry, 1990, 1992);
Parental Influences And Other Factors Contributing To Practicing
Parental support is essential to help students maintain the regular, constructive practice. Research has shown that in the early stage of learning an instrument, parental attendance at lessons and supervision of practicing is a significant factor contributing to the length and quality of practice (Woody, 2004; Sosniak, 1985). Therefore, at Giovanni Music Academy (https://giovannimusicacademy.com/courses/) we encourage parents/guardians to be present during lessons and take notes for home practice. Even non-musical parents can time the length of practice and comment if students are not following teacher instructions. Previous experience of playing an instrument, in particular by the mother, can influence the parental expectations concerning the amount of practice (McPherson & Davidson, 2002). Parents with musical training need to be careful to avoid being too critical of their children’s playing and demanding certain practice time to not make practicing a boring chore and an unpleasant activity.
When it comes to learning musical instruments is quite different from any other activity a young child engages in. Virtually, no other extra-curricular activity requires much time as music lessons, the intense individual effort must continue over a period of years and often time daily practice routine. This is essential for all kinds of musical instruments.
In simple terms learning musical skills requires regular practice. This is not just sitting down at the instrument for few minutes and say we are done. Your whole body must be involved in the process.
Importance Of Regular Practice Routine
While music teachers may differ on the details of students as regards the age, level, instrument, and teaching methods, at Giovanni Music Academy we agree that regular practice should be part of the student’s routine. Last-minute cramming of musical works will never benefit the students in anyways. https://giovannimusicacademy.com/2021/02/05/8-new-years-resolution-for-all-musicians/
In this modern age when parents and guidance seem busier, finding time to practice in between home works, soccer, other activities, and playdates is undeniably difficult. And the challenging part is when parents don’t have personal experience with music education.
To achieve a better result in any child, the practice has to be the primary activity of the child. Parents need to understand that daily practice is never an easy habit. And children have to be reminded and encourage to practice their instruments just as they need to be reminded to brush their teeth or do their homework.
Quantity Of Practice
The amount of practice required to achieve the desired progress in every child depends on three things; level/age, ambition, and instrument.
The level and age of the student are key factors here. Most music teachers believe 15 to 20 minutes is reasonable for a beginner while 20 to 45 minutes for intermediate and then for the advance 1hour is already a part of their daily activity.
The student ambition is also important as the level and age are stated above. So many questions determine this. Is the student preparing for the music exam? Is a concert ahead? Is the student preparing to join a music academy? All these questions inspire the quantity of practice needed. It is always advisable to list out the child’s goals to guide the teacher to prepare a suitable active practice routine for the child.
Finally, the diverse instrument determines the amount of practice a child should do. For example, piano practice time is longer than any other instrument. Also, a piano student can practice longer than a trumpet student because of the strength required.
Quality Of the Practice Routine
- Create the atmosphere
- Warm up exercise
- Have a goal
- Be real with yourself
- Identify your lagging areas and spend time to fix them
- Know you’re a musician
- Be creative during practice time
- Record yourself
- Avoid all distractions
- Reward yourself.
In conclusion, please note that any instrument can be over the practice to the point of injury, which means every child should at least be under the supervision or rather a targeted goal. Practice is a crucial part of any successful musician; therefore, student’s music imbibes the habit.
“If I don’t practice a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it. Louis Armstrong”
Practice makes perfect.