Should Students Practice Daily In Preparation For Their Private Lessons?

Sharon Lesley
Submitted: Sun, August 6, 2017 - 1:25am EDT
Practice Makes Perfect!
Is it necessary to practice daily in preparation for private lessons, and to see consistent improvement? What did Mr. Suzuki teach regarding this important question?

Every student taking private lessons will eventually wonder, and ask the question, "How many days per week should I practice?" Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki, the inventor of the international Suzuki method of music education, believed in daily practice. Whenever a student asked him how many days they should practice, he always said, "only on the days that you eat!"

While not every student will be able to practice on a daily basis, it is important to try and practice as many days as possible. This will produce steady improvement of the many skills necessary to play an instrument, such as technique, tone, and intonation. It will also keep bad habits from forming, and assure that students are prepared for their private lessons.

Most of what we learn on a an instrument is based on muscle memory, including hand positions, tone, vibrato, balancing and drawing the bow (for string instruments) etc. Therefore, if a student keeps the momentum going with several days of practice per week, they will see the greatest and fastest improvement.

In my 30 years of teaching, I have never seen a student improve with only three days of practice per week. It's pretty much like treading water. Furthermore, students that practice long periods of time for only two or three days per week do not progress as fast as students that practice shorter amounts of time for five days or more per week. Again, this is greatly due to the fact that they are building techniques based on muscle memory.

To see consistent improvement, students need a MINIMUM of four days per week on their own, plus one private lesson per week, (private lessons are supervised practice) which counts as a fifth day of practice. If a student practices a minimum of five days per week, they will be prepared for and get the most out of their private violin lesson or piano lessons. They will also quickly improve in their technical abilities, and will be well on their way to becoming the musician they have always dreamed of being.

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