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Practice Time Each Day?

rundmconerundmcone Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
My DD struggles to find adequate time during the school week to get in enough practice time (piano). She is a junior and has six tough academic classes. During the week, 45 minutes to an hour is about what she can squeeze in, and more on weekends. Thoughts? Thank you!

Replies to: Practice Time Each Day?

  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,243 Senior Member
    It's not so much how long you practice, but how efficiently.
  • rundmconerundmcone Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    I'm sure that is true - but it's hard for me to tell whether DD is efficient, or not...
  • cellocompmomcellocompmom Registered User Posts: 230 Junior Member
    We made a decision in the fall to let junior son drop an AP science class and it was a very good decision. He was doing fine in the class but it was taking up a lot of time that he now uses for additional practice. He also is taking less AP's and more honors classes this year and next. This is 2nd kid. Older s took all AP's and is a music major. Looking back on what I now know I would have suggested older s take more honors and less AP's and focus on practice. It is the quality of the practice time that matters but if others have daily hours of high quality time and you do not they likely have the edge. Depends what you are applying for and where. I also checked academic requirements of all schools of his list before he dropped the AP class. Assuming she wants to be a music major does she need all of those hard classes?
  • rundmconerundmcone Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    She doesn't need all the hard classes. She is very strong academically but I've come to find that it takes up a lot of her time since she has two AP classes this year, and two science classes.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    The question of how much to practice comes up all the time, how many hours and so forth, and the answer to that is it really depends on the student and how they practice. Some students are really efficient practicers and get a lot out of a couple of hours, some need a lot more, it all depends.

    Part of the answer to your question also depends on where your D is and what her plans are. Is she planning on majoring in piano performance in college, and wants to go to a high level program? Is she planning on doing a dual degree, a BA in music/piano and a bachelor's in something else? Does she plan on going to a stand alone conservatory, or going to a music school within a university? Some of that will answer questions and give some feedback.

    As compmom said, Piano is extremely competitive, and with Piano kids start young and it is possible to practice many, many hours a day on it. In auditions your D will be up against kids coming out of programs in China where they practice many, many hours and have been doing so since young (not saying that is the be all and end all, a lot of that practice time might be wasted or due to inefficient practicing), but the reality is let's say compared to a wind instrument where kids start later and also are limited in how much they can practice, Piano students tend to start early and can practice long amounts, and that will give a big advantage to students doing that.

    And the balance between academics and music is a big one for music students, it is why a lot of kids intending to study music either homeschool, or tend not to go for all the AP classes and such, because otherwise they find it hard to find time to practice. I have known kids who 'do it all', who do the uber academics and also do the high level music, but they are pretty rare. My son went to a top pre college program, and he said you could tell the kids who were aiming for the high level schools like HYP, that their playing fell off by end of freshman year of high school as the academics ramped up.

    One thing to keep in mind is even in admits to music schools inside larger schools, like for example U Mich, where you have to be admitted both to the music school and the college, that they do make allowances for music students, they know the amount of work music takes, and they do give leeway (doesn't mean music students simply have to work on their music, and ignore academics, it means they can tone down some of the academic courses, the x number of AP's, the Y number of EC's that have become part of the admissions game, and the school will take into account heading for music..but if the kid is getting poor grades, that will hurt them).

    If she is thinking of applying to a music school inside a college be aware that you get admitted to the two pieces seperately, that if you get admitted to the school of music but don't get into the college, you don't get in, and vice versa, and with the music school admissions comes down pretty much entirely to the audition, so a student might have the 4.0 gpa, the 2300 SAT, the 9 AP's, the EC's, get into the college, and fail the audition to get into the music school. If she applies to a stand alone music school, it is the audition and whether a teacher will take her in their studio, grades might factor into scholarships and such (though that generally would be within a college, not a stand alone conservatory), so her playing will be tantamount.

    Knowing what I do of piano, if she is seriously thinking of studying piano at a high level in college, what you are saying (and it is just my opinion) is going to be too little, given the competition in piano, if you are talking doing performance in a high level program, whether a conservatory (CIM, Eastman, Juilliard, NEC, etc) or in a college (Rice, Michigan, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, etc). It also of course will depend where she is right now and what year she is in, her private teacher is probably a better judge on where she is and what she needs to do.....but still, you may want to think of dropping some of the rough academic courses to make room for more practicing, given how competitive piano is, even with the most efficient practice time in the world someone I think still needs a lot more than 45 minutes-an hour a day.
  • MARIMBAgirlMARIMBAgirl Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    I'm a student, and I asked many musicians this question. It's not the time you spend practicing, but how you spend it. Work on what you (in this case, your daughter) finds difficult at the moment. Make all your time count.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    As others have said, it is about how efficiently you practice as well, and every student is different. Still, with piano, because you can physically practice that many hours a day, someone who practices 4 hours a day, even if they are only moderately efficient, is going to be able to get a lot more done then someone practicing an hour or so, no matter how efficient. I can't stress how competitive piano is for performance, it in some ways makes the violin look sane (and the violin world isn't), and that if DD's goal is to get into a competitive music program I would highly advise freeing time for more practicing. I also advise your D talk to her teacher and see what they think, hopefully be better than my son's high school violin teacher, whose comment was something like 'more than 6 hours a day is wasted' when he asked that question of her...*lol*. seriously, if you haven't already done so, talk to them about her plans, ask them to give you an assessment of where she is and with the time until she would be ready to audition, how much time practicing would she need. Keep in mind that for music programs the conventional wisdom about keeping high gpa, SAT scores, AP classes and EC's goes right out the window, you get in because of the audition, period (yes, grades and so forth count, if your grades are horrible it can hurt you, and high grades and such might count in a tiebreaker situation, but the problem with that is if you sacrifice practice time to the academic rigor, you may not even be tied, might not get in).
  • jazzpianodadjazzpianodad Registered User Posts: 163 Junior Member
    @rundmcone, you don't really say what your DD's goals are with the music. But if she's looking to get into a high quality conservatory or music school and perhaps pursue a career in music performance, then I agree with musicprnt that 45 minutes to an hour of practice time, no matter how efficiently she practices, isn't nearly enough. My son is very efficient in practicing and thought that 2-3 hours of practice in high school wasn't enough. He limited his academic courses to the minimum required in high school to make more time for practice, and still felt the need to take a gap year after high school so that he could focus entirely on music.

    If music is a priority for her, I'd suggest that she drop one of the science classes to free up more time for practice. On the other hand, if she wants to pursue something other than music and views the piano as an extracurricular enrichment but not the focus of her life, 45 minutes to an hour is probably just fine.
  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica Registered User Posts: 3,243 Senior Member
    Even though I started off with the bit about efficiency, above, I will agree with jazzpianotdad and musicprnt. It's true that there are some geniuses that can get away with practicing less (or maybe that is just spin by their agents and parents, as if we did not already believe that they are amazing) but for the instruments like piano and violin where it is possible to practice very long hours, you need to consider that the highly talented competitors are practicing long and with great focus. 45 minutes daily is not going to pave the way to a great conservatory or a career. It's all about what you want. My daughter had to curtail her academics in high school in order to carve out the time. There are some phenoms who manage to do both but they are few and far between.
  • neatoburritoneatoburrito Registered User Posts: 3,449 Senior Member
    I agree with everything stayed above. As a pianist, I will share that it takes at least 45 minutes for me to get to the mental state that put me in "the zone" where I really start making serious progress. But once there, the progress can be remarkable.

    Most teenagers are not efficient practisers. I tell my students to sit down at the piano with a specific goal, often just four measures. If you hear her playing an entire large section repeatedly, she's probably not practising well. You need to hear slow, deliberate practising, things that don't sound great. I've spent hours on a single measure before, getting everything just so. This is necessary because you cannot expect to make music if playing the notes is hard. You know how sometimes you'll hear someone play and think, "gosh, they make it sound easy." Do you know why that is? Because it IS easy. When a piece of music is still hard for you to play, it will show. Practise until the notes are effortless, until you're more surprised that you got it wrong than that you got it right, until you can play it without making a face.

    The good news is that there are usually only a few sections that are really difficult. Tell your daughter to focus on those. Students waste time when they practise the parts they can already play. I know this is obvious, but you'd be surprised how many young musicians think that they can use the momentum of what they can play to carry them through the rough patches. It doesn't work like that. It's like they hold their breathe and think, "maybe I'll magically remember this section that I always mess up, or maybe this time, I'll miraculously figure out an efficient fingerling." nope. Won't work. Ever. It has to be deliberately learned.

    When I was in high school, I would get up at five and squeeze in a few hours before school. I did minimal homework. If I wasn't at school or doing some stupid homework, I was at the piano. It's what it takes. Piano is a lonely instrument. :)

    But yeah, even with really efficient practising, I'd put three hours minimum. Then she'll want to just play for a few hours a day too, eh? Playing and practising are not the same. In other words, just because she's at the piano doesn't mean she's practising.

  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    @‌ neato-
    *LOL*...I loved your comment about how students should practice, working on 4 measures or so at a time. Hearing our S practice day after day, it was just that, a snippet there, a part there, and as you said, it is usually the hard parts, lot more focus there (on violin there is reason to practice 'easier' parts a pianist doesn't have, to make sure their intonation is correct, but still, it is the hard parts).I don't know how many times we have cracked up audience members at my S's recitals, when he is playing something and we are like "What is that piece?", until he gets to one of the hard sections we heard a lot, then we are like "Oh, so that is what that piece sounds like when performed!". His current teacher has him playing more of the piece, and recommends doing some playing through once the small sections are worked out, but it is pretty much what you say to your own students. And yeah, my son used to think that a long time ago, that he could 'bull' his way through the rough patches, but the reality is that practice gets the proper technique into muscle memory, and that takes work.

    Sadly, a lot of kids run into this conundrum and parents, and quite honestly, most school guidance counselors, will tell the student that the academics are more important, that there will be time in college to 'get serious', when the reality is that depending on what instrument you are on, that isn't true. The non solo instruments (I am including flute in the solo category) have been a bit less competitive, but that is changing, though with wind and brass instruments it isn't really possible to practice beyond a certain point, physically it becomes impossible to play any more, as I found out when I was loitering in front of a clarinet:)
  • musicamusicamusicamusica Registered User Posts: 6,468 Senior Member
    might be of interest:

This discussion has been closed.