Are You All In...
Or Are You On The Fence?
Anything worthwhile in life requires work and commitment. If you want to progress in your passion, you need to devote time and energy towards the process. While we live in a fast pace world that now requires, if not demands, instant gratification, there are still elements of life that require patience and fortitude. Music is one of those elements.
With music, there are so many moving parts: gross motor muscles, fine motor muscles, muscle memory development, brain connections and memory, etc. For these “parts” to move, for lack of a better term, in harmony, there is a time commitment to practicing these skills. I am often asked:
“How many times a day should I practice?”
“How long should my child(ren)/me practice each day?”
“Do I need to practice everyday?”
My responses are normally a question to the question:
“What do you want to get out of learning music? What is your motive or goal”
“Is it therapy from the stress of everyday life and work?”
“Do you want to learn music as a profession?”
“Are you using music as a method of maintaining memory/restoring movement and brain function after trauma?”
“Are you taking music lessons because your parents are making you?”
The last reason always brings a chuckle, but gives me the warning that fun needs to a focus to keep the student motivated and encouraged.
If you can relate to one of the questions above, practice will depend on a variety of factors - one primarily being age. If the student is a child, I typically recommend (as other private teachers can confirm), a minute for every year of your age. Children have a limited attention span and energy - there is so much in this world demanding their mental resources: school, sports, hygiene, nutrition, and developing social skills and manners. To ask a five year old to sit and practice music for 30 minutes is setting up an unrealistic expectation that will lead to fatigue, frustration, tears and arguments. This sets the child up for failure and a resentment of music. If we approach practice as part of a daily routine with a reasonable time limit, that compliments their age and development, we are fostering a sense of responsibility - ultimately encouraging success and fostering a love for their instrument.
With children, another factor to consider is the time of day a child practices. Is your child more of a morning person who would benefit from practicing before leaving for school? Is your child most engaged as soon as they get home from school and should practice before starting homework? Is your child better at practicing in the evenings after dinner or sports practice? Timing is everything and each child is different. What may work for one child may not work for another. It is important not to put children into a box full of expectations that are not realistic. That being said, practice is a key ingredient to learning music, developing proper technique and work ethic. Find a routine that works best for you and your child and stick with it. The primary source of conflict is inconsistency. If you are consistent with the schedule and routine, they will be receptive to putting in the work.
If you are an adult, I suggest anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes in one session and no more. Why would I put a cap on an adult student? I found long ago that adults can be ambitious and want to master core fundamentals quickly. In doing so, some will dedicate hours and hours per day to practice and burnout becomes a companion in short order. Music is to alleviate stress, not add to what you encounter daily. Slow and steady wins the race and you are just as capable of mastering the fundamentals, learning proper technique and develop reading skills by setting aside 30 minutes a day, dedicated to the instrument of your choice. If you lose track of time and find yourself practicing for an hour, GREAT!!! If you find yourself getting frustrated after 20 minutes, get up and walk away. The practice police will not show up at your house and arrest you, nor will your teacher jump out from under the couch to chastise you (if they do, you need to dial 9-1-1, change your locks, get a restraining order and change teachers).
To learn music, you must be willing to commit some time in your daily routine to practice your instrument. Find what works for you or your child, commit to it and remain consistent. Results will follow if you remain dedicated to the routine. Basically, you will get from the process as much as you put into it. My challenge to you is, are you all in or will you remain on the fence? Do your best and be your best!
Want to explore how you and/or your child can benefit from music lessons? Contact us at Info@GarrettMusicAcademy.com. A dedicated team member will contact you to see how we can serve your music needs. Don’t live in our area? That’s fine! We offer virtual lessons as well.