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  • Andrew Rogers

Structured Practice

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

If you were forced to take piano lessons as a child, chances are the idea of practice stirs up bad memories. I can remember as a kid beig hounded the day before my weekly lesson about how little I had practiced. Lessons felt like somewhere I had to prove myself. It wasn’t until I started playing music I listened to that I didn’t dread practice.

As a parent, you want the best for your kids. You want them to learn valuable skills, like sitting down at the piano and playing beautiful music for family and friends. Maybe you love the idea of them grabbing a guitar at a campfire and playing songs for everyone to enjoy. You could have hopes for them to serve in the church worship band. So, you want them to practice and improve every week. You’re probably wondering, “how much should my child practice each week?” Carl Off, the music education theorist, said it best. "Since the beginning of time, children have not liked to study. They would much rather play, and if you have their interests at heart, you will let them learn while they play; they will find that what they have mastered is child's play." So how do we flip the mindset from practice being a chore to practice being play? With Up Tempo, we set clear goals and benchmarks. We encourage students to “level up” in their playing, just like they would in a video game. We also teach students how to practice. Practice sessions are broken into four parts, Prep, Practice, Push, and Play. Prep includes warm-ups and musical exercises to get fingers and limbs moving. Practice allows students to work on any new songs assigned by their instructor.

Push is where students focus on any song parts that need extra attention. It can be a small section, but the idea is to drill it repeatedly until it can automatically play. Finally, Play is where students get to enjoy playing and singing material you already know. After all, isn’t the point of learning an instrument to enjoy what you play? Now, practice technique and philosophy are all great, but you still want a general guideline for the original question, “how much should my child practice each week?” If a playful approach and clear goals are set for the student, here’s what you can expect for practice time. Keep in mind, older and more experienced students will dedicate more time to practice. A beginner student under the age of 10 should aim for 10-15 minutes of practice 3-4 times a week. Intermediate students can expect to spend approximately 30 minutes of practice 4-5 times a week. Here’s how that can break down in the parts. Prep: 2 minutes Play: 5 minutes Push: 5 minutes Play: 3 Minutes

Total: 15 minutes of practice Prep: 3 minutes Play: 10 minutes Push: 10 minutes Play: 7 Minutes

Total: 30 minutes of practice I never want any students to get that feeling of dread as a lesson approaches. When music and practice are given this approach, they will look forward to their next lesson.


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