What Good Practicing Means

 
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One of the first questions I get asked by prospective students is: “How long should I practice?” but my answer often surprises them.

When a family joins my studio, I often hear statements like “Should we set a timer for 30 minutes?” or “How much per week should my child practice?”

My answer however is not based on how much time we dedicate to practicing, but rather how we dedicate ourselves to practicing in the first place.

When it comes to young kids and practicing, my goal with them is to help them feel what it’s like to self structure their time. To enjoy the process. To feel like they are accomplishing goals. To feel rewarded by their progress.

This can look like: reviewing pieces, reading pieces, composing a piece, improvising off of a piece, figuring out a song by ear, or anything that speaks to them and their journey. The reality is at their age as long as there is a sense of forward motion and help with that structuring from the teacher, there will be progress.

I tell parents, good practicing for a young child is simply spending time during the week enjoying their own process.

With adults, I take the same approach, however with adults I give an even stronger sense of ownership, and goal setting tends to be very self devised by the students themselves.

The progress is based off of accomplishing goals rather than the time itself.

We can set a timer for an hour and practice to our hearts content, but if we don’t practice with intention and with some sort of goal with forward motion, the time will be negated by the lack of structure.

How we practice is what helps us put one foot in front of the other as students, performers, or educators. When we practice to achieve our goals, not just to see seconds pass by on the clock, is when we accomplish a sense of ownership and forward motion in our practicing, and see ourselves grow and flourish as students of the craft.