5 Numbers You Need to Make Your Kid a Good Musician- and Printable Practice Charts

The following is reblogged from Heather of Moderately Crunchy.

Keeping kids motivated during the winter semester is an uphill battle, and we need parents to help!

Here’s the hard truth: not even Yo-Yo Ma can make a child an excellent cellist with one lesson per week. (Sub in whatever instrument your kiddos play in that analogy). My job as a music teacher is to teach your child how to practice because- you ready for this?- your child will never learn an instrument unless they practice at home.

Sooo… how much should your child be practicing? How often should he practice and for how long?

Well, I’m glad you asked! I wish I could say I was basing this on hard evidence and studies, but I’m not. This is my personal and professional opinion, based on my combined experience in both music and psychological development.

Here are the 5 Practicing Numbers You Need to Know~

~ 5 Days a Week

Kids do best when they practice most days. Consistency lends itself to progress, and it also helps cut down on the practice battles. When practicing is a part of the daily routine, kids push back less. In our home, we take practice breaks on lessons days and on Sunday.

~ 10 Minutes Per Year of Age, Per Week

I recommend that my students practice a minimum of 10 minutes per year of age per week. For example, my four year old has to practice a minimum of 40 minutes a week. I would expect a ten year old to practice a bare minimum of 100 minutes a week. Bare minimum.

~ 15 Minute Practice Sessions

It takes time to warm up and start “thinking musically”. Kids do their best learning as they get into the practice session. With that in mind, practice sessions should be a minimum of 15 minutes long. As tempting as it may be to throw in a five minute mini-session to round out a practice week, it’s not productive time.

~ 1 Year Per Level

Parents often ask me how long it should take to get through one level of books. Many method books are formatted to get through in one year or less. If your kid is languishing in a level for two or three years, it may be time to re-evaluate either your practice schedule or interest level (or maybe, possibly your instructor, but that’s a whole other can of worms).

~ 30, 45, 60 Minute Lesson Times

Many students start out with a 30 minute lesson time and get stuck there. Beginners do well with 30 minute lessons, but intermediate students need a 45 minute long lesson. Advanced students need a 60 minute lesson and may even need lessons more often than once a week. If you’re unsure what level your child is at, ask your instructor.

Do you need to shake-up your practice routine to get through winter? I’m sharing my studio practice charts in an instant download with you. I love practice charts that can be used for long-term goal setting (ie. more than one week). For practice charts to work well, follow these steps:

Establish an incentive. In a perfect world, all kids would practice for the sheer love of music. You can get your kids there, but it’s going to take some prodding along the way. Set an overall practice chart goal and then pick a prize at the end. I use a treasure box full of candy and small toys in my studio. You can also try going out for dessert, choosing a family outing, or extending a privilege as rewards.

Use it! Once you’ve chosen your chart and an incentive, post the chart in the open and refer to it daily. If you forget about the chart, your kid will forget about practicing.

Keep it up. Fill out the chart, reward with the incentive, then immediately start a new chart. This is how good habits form.

In this download, you’ll find:
Punch Cards (similar to an old-school lunch ticket)                                                                           Race Game Board (looks like a board game)
Blackout Bingo Cards
Race to 1000 minutes (race car themed with tens charts)

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