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Best Time of Day to Practice?

 

When is the best time of day to practice?

 


Arlene Stokman, Suzuki Piano Teacher

 

These are hectic times we live in. Most households have both parents working and the children busy with activities, thus making time for their daily instrument practice quite challenging. The importance of daily practice warrants it to be prioritized and written into their daily schedule. When? Whenever they can do it as long as it gets done.

But for those lucky ones who have more flexibility and want to know when is the best time of day to practice, here are some ideas. The best time can be any time of  the day when one is still fresh and can handle challenges with the minimum amount of frustration. This designated “prime practice time” depends on the student’s and parent’s schedule, availability, and varying energy level throughout the day. Once this “prime time” is identified, this should be written down into the the student’s daily schedule.

Ideally mornings are the best so one gets it done before “everything else” happens. However, this may not always be possible due to school or work. So then it can be done after school or after dinner....again, as long as it gets done.

The parent of a young student can be of tremendous help by planning what and when to practice. The most challenging part of the student’s repertoire should be practiced during “prime time”. This may be learning a new piece or polishing an old piece for performance. Review pieces can be done throughout  the day - during breaks between activities, or after-dinner family concerts. All the while, the parent is making mental notes of what needs to be practiced on the next day’s “prime time”.

And if you don’t get everything done today, remember tomorrow is a another day.... and you will try again.


 

Aki Tanaka, Suzuki Violin Teacher

Because every family has a different home environment, the best time to practice will be different for each child. Among my own students, some said the morning works best. Others preferred to practice right after school.

My suggestion is to make practicing a priority in everyday life. Children have sports, homework, and many other activities.  Therefore, write down all of their activities and establish priorities. Then stick to the schedule at least a few weeks before adjusting. Some parents have told me that practicing is more important than doing homework, because children get too tired after finishing their homework. Setting priorities may help families figure out how to manage all of the activites in their child’s busy everyday life.

Another suggestion is to find as many opportunities as possible to perform on events such as Suzuki Sundays, and Campus Recitals. Instead of only playing a well-polished piece once or twice a year on a recital, students will play better and progress faster when they perform as often as possible. Therefore, children have a consistent short-term goal and purpose for practicing their musical instruments. Some students do not want to perform in front of people for different reasons. If students do not want to perform, I recommend at least taking them to watch concerts as often as possible. Therefore, students may be inspired by seeing other students or professional players. 

The final point is, teachers and parents cannot push children to practice.  We should encourage them and be their cheerleaders. 

Practice tip from Music Institute Faculty member Carrie Anselmo, violin
Practicing SMART

Advice from Carrie Anselmo, Suzuki violin faculty