It’s the question that has plagued musicians for years. How much should you practice? The answer to that question is complicated. Your ideal amount of practice will depend on a lot of factors.
I want to share some of those factors with you guys. That way, you can make an informed decision regarding your practice schedule.
Practicing is a necessary part of being a musician. It’s what makes you a better player, and it teaches you discipline. You also don’t have to worry about faking your way through your next rehearsal.
The most important thing that will determine how much you CAN practice is your schedule overall. A full time job or a full load of classes will take up more time than a part time job or one class. Speaking to students, some majors will take up more time than others.
If you’re a music major, you will have more time to practice since it’s part of your program. Science and business majors will have classes with a lot of homework. If you have to work while you’re in school, that can also cut into practice time.
The busier you are outside of music, the less time you will have to practice. That’s not always a bad thing. Just be sure to set realistic goals for your practice schedule.
Even if you have the time to practice for hours, you might not need to. If you want to play because you love it, you can get away with shorter practice sessions. Serious musicians will need to spend a bit more time in the practice room.
Honing your craft takes time and work, and you can’t expect to improve in 15 minutes a day. If that’s all your schedule allows, then do it. But if you want a career in music, you might have to practice more.
Aspiring performers will need to practice more than aspiring music teachers. Future composers will want to spend some of their practice time composing. The amount of time you should practice depends on your goals.
Another thing to consider when creating a practice plan is your current level. If you’re a beginner, you probably don’t have the stamina to practice for long periods of time. You also won’t have that much music to practice.
If you’re more advanced, you will have more music to work on. Your body will also be able to play more than when you were a beginner.
Piano players can usually practice longer than brass or woodwind players. That’s because your lips can dry out or become tired after playing. Fingers are more nimble, so they can play for a longer session.
Singers should also watch how long they practice in one go. Your voice is an important tool, and you don’t want to overwork it.
String players can practice for a longer period of time, but be careful. Violinists and violists can develop tennis elbow, and cellists can have shoulder pain.
Listen to your body, and stop if you have any pain or discomfort.
How Much Should You Practice?
Did you notice that all of these factors start with the word “your?” Your schedule. Your goals. It all depends on you.
Music, like any art, depends on what you do. If you put in the work, you will get more out of it.
That being said, more practice isn’t always better. Beginner musicians shouldn’t practice for long periods, because they could develop pain. Even more experienced musicians are at risk of overuse injuries.
If possible, I recommend splitting your practice between two to four sessions in a day. That way, you can practice more and give your body a break. I like to practice in the morning before work or classes.
If I have time before dinner, I will practice then, too. After dinner is another great time for me to practice. That is the practice schedule that works for me.
You are your own best judge regarding your practice time. If you can practice for hours at a time, do it. If you need a break after half an hour, take that break. You deserve it.
There’s No Single Answer
You’ve probably figured out that you won’t get a number from me. You’re right. There really is no one perfect number. I could say, you should practice for one hour each day. That’s a number, but it might not work for you.
If you don’t have an hour to spare, then you can’t practice for an hour. If you just started playing, you probably don’t have the stamina to practice for an hour.
And even if you can practice that long, that number could leave you feeling guilty if you don’t practice that much.
It’s up to you to decide how much you should practice. Some musicians can practice for hours, but others only need 20 minutes. If you’re still stuck, try asking a private teacher for advice. Many teachers can use your background to create a unique practice routine.
Are you satisfied with your practice? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!