Students – and parents of students – often have concerns about how much time should be devoted to practicing instruments at home. I think it is important to understand that being overly concerned about practice can lead to unnecessary levels of stress, and can actually detract from learning an instrument. In a perfect world, every music student would play their instrument every day, out of sheer enthusiasm for the joy of music! However, life is complex, even for young children. Some may be transported to 2 different homes; some may just be overloaded with homework. And, the bottom line is, most children (and many adults) have to learn what practicing is, and how to do it.

Quite honestly, some parents tell me that they cannot start their child on lessons, or they must discontinue lessons, because the child does not want to practice. The problem with this is, how is a child going to learn to practice if they are not given the chance to study music in the first place?

I tell my students to start by playing for 5 minutes a day. “Play” sounds like more fun that “practice”. It is much easier to find 5 minutes in a day than 30 minutes. Secondly, if someone enjoys playing music and can find the 5 minutes to play, it is much more likely that they will play longer.

I believe it is much more important to inspire a student to play, than to force a student to practice.