When it comes to practicing your instrument, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact time you should spend to reach your ultimate goal as a musician. An hour? Two hours? Well, it depends!
Many times we have subconscious goals as musicians. We may assume that after four years of playing the piano, we’ll be virtuosic. Or maybe we think that after playing for just a year, we’ll finally be able to play our favorite piece of music. Either way, the first step in nailing down your practice time is to set an end goal. What kind of musician do you want to be?
Now, let’s look at a few different time frames and how they’ll impact your skill long term.
1 – 2 Hours/Week (10 – 20 Minutes/Day)
More than likely, if you’re practicing 1-2 hours a week, you’re probably not practicing every day. After all, what can you accomplish in 10-20 minutes? Because it’s incredibly hard to make any progress with 1-2 hours a week, this time frame leaves musicians unlikely to stick with their instrument over time. The lack of growth tends to make musicians feel as if they aren’t talented or capable when the reality is that they need to up their practice time!
3 – 4 Hours/Week (20 – 40 Minutes/Day)
Daily practice is essential when it comes to practicing music. Routine and repetition make your practices stick in the long run. Many beginning students or young musicians will start with 30 minutes a day because it isn’t a massive commitment. However, after a proper warm-up, there is not much time left to make any significant accomplishments.
Warming up prevents serious injury, builds up strength, and improvs overall skill and fluency.
Your warm-up will likely take up half of your practice time, if not more. You’ll then be rushing to get through your pieces, shoving information into your short-term memory, and not allowing for anything to take hold. These short practices actually hurt you later on because you have to continue to practice the same sections over and over again.
7 Hours/Week (1 Hour/Day)
Let’s face it, many musicians lead hectic lives, and it’s tough to fit practice time into each day. If this is you, we recommend that you try to get at least one hour of practice per day. This is the minimum amount of time that must be spent in order to see a change in your abilities over time. You will be able to get a decent warm-up in (10-15 minutes) and tackle a few pieces of music. But this is where having a goal becomes important.
If you’re practicing for an hour a day, it’s safe to say you value music and understand the importance of practicing. And while an hour a day will earn you progress, it won’t necessarily be fast. The longer you practice each day, the sooner you will see your skills developing. Shorter practice sessions will result in more physical days before you reach your end goal.
10 – 15 Hours/Week (1.5 – 2 Hours/Day) – RECOMMENDED
We recommend spending 1.5-2 hours a day practicing, as it is a great amount of time to thoroughly warm up and make true accomplishments in each practice session. These are the practices you walk away from and already feel better than when you went in. You will see yourself progressing and developing at a very steady rate over time. In 1.5- 2 hours, depending on how many pieces you’re currently studying, you should be able to dedicate a fair amount of time to each. This window of time is also perfect for creating a relaxed environment.
Many times, practicing can be overwhelming for musicians, especially if you have a private teacher. It’s easy to focus on all you have to do and how little time you have to do it. 1.5-2 hour practice sessions allow you to relax and spend the amount of time you need on your warm-ups and pieces of music. Ultimately, this relaxed mindset will create more focus and digestion of the material in front of you and will be far more impactful in the long run.
20 – 30 Hours/Week (3-4 Hours/Day)
We are now heading into virtuosic territory! 3-4 hours a day is pretty significant and is usually practiced by musicians who are serious about becoming virtuosic players or making a living with their craft. At this point, you will be making sacrifices for your instrument, and so again, having a goal is very important. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to be a virtuosic musician. For many, music is a hobby or something on the side, and so you shouldn’t feel discouraged if you can’t dedicate 4 hours a day to practicing.
However, if you are on the train to virtuosic town, this is your starting place. While you can knock out the entire 3-4 hours in one sitting, this amount of time can also be broken up into a couple of sessions a day. For example, you might like to practice one piece in the morning and a different piece in the afternoon. Just keep in mind that if there are hours between practice sessions, you will have to warm up again to ensure a healthy rehearsal.
30+ Hours/Week (5+ Hours/Day)
If you’re practicing for over 5 hours a day, we can assume you’re the next Bach or Beethoven! This allotment of time is for top-tier musicians looking to leave an absolute legacy. Examples of these kinds of musicians include world-renown pianist, Lang Lang, who practiced 4-6 hours a day starting at age six, and a founding father of music, Franz Liszt, who practiced 8-14 hours a day. While this seems crazy to most, there are a select few that have chosen this life, and we’re thankful for them!
We wanted to give you a tangible chart to sum up the article.
No matter how long you decide to practice, the key is sticking to it! Like we mentioned before, getting into a routine will allow the information you’re taking in to stick and make an impact over time. For ways to enhance your practice time, check out our article “Maximize Your Practice Time With These 10 Tips.” And make sure to check out “Enhance Your Voice with These Vocal Warm-Ups and Breathing Exercises” and “5 Piano Warm-Ups That Will Help You Become a Better Pianist” to learn more about the importance of warming up!