Students should be practicing every day for at least 20 minutes. Specific practice techniques are taught to students at the beginning of each school year, and the two words used to describe quality practice are (1) efficient and (2) productive. The proof of effective practice is demonstrated through the improvement shown in lessons and rehearsals.
Certainly the quantity of practice is important since muscles are strengthened and ideas are reinforced through the process of repetition, but just as important is the frequency of practice. Students, with the help of their parents, should establish a routine to assure that practice time is quality time. Suggestions include:
- Keep a music stand set-up in your practice space all the time and have your instrument, music, and tuner/metronome/smartphone apps. available.
- Make sure that your practice space is quiet and free of sounds from the TV, stereo, siblings, and other interruptions.
- Practice every day for 20 minutes each time.
- Parents should listen to their students' practice; offer suggestions, or just a word of encouragement to show their continued interest in the student’s continuing development.
- Assure that your equipment is in good playing condition and bring problems to the attention of your teacher as soon as they are discovered.
- Practice slowly at first, never faster than you can play correctly. If you make a mistake or hesitate, stop and practice that section several times slowly. Increase your speed when you can play it correctly. You have not mastered an exercise or piece until you can play it correctly without hesitation.
- Play through an entire passage, making a mental note of errors.
- Isolate difficult technical passages and play them slowly in very small parts until they improve.
- Increase the speed until up to performance tempo. Play the whole section of music again, making sure that the small sections have improved.