V.com weekend vote: How many hours a day do you practice?

August 29, 2021, 1:32 PM · Yes, quality of practice is undoubtedly more important than quantity, but there is no getting around the fact that in order to play well, one has to devote time to the endeavor. That usually means setting consistent time aside for daily practice.


Finding time to practice might be the most difficult thing about playing an instrument. It's not easy when you are young, and it's not easy when you are older. There is school, exercise, the basic fact that one must eat and also put bread on the table, there is work of all kinds. And there is procrastination, distractions, children, parties, holidays, falling in love...

But some people find the time, and it usually requires sacrifice: saying "no" to certain things, having discipline. You have to create the habit and then keep it alive.

The amount of time that one practices also varies over a lifetime, and depending on the projects one has going.

In a recent Violinist.com article, Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim was asked how much a person should practice every day, and he said, "It depends." He pointed out that the amount of daily practice varies over a lifetime, but that he had observed that for a high-level player "there has to be three or four periods in one's life where you practice a LOT and HARD" -- like five hours a day. "But nobody can sustain five hours a day over a whole lifetime - our bodies are not meant for that. But consistency of practice is important." Kim added that at this point, he practices 1-2 hours a day.

How are you doing with your practice? How many hours a day are you devoting, these days? And what helps you keep the habit going?

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August 29, 2021 at 06:42 PM · One, strictly limited to prevent injury.

August 29, 2021 at 07:45 PM · 1-2 hours really focused practice every day can achieve a great deal. When I say really focused practice, I mean something like this:

Without any distraction, practice no more than 20 minutes per session, listen like crazy, discover and explore solutions, with the aids of tuner and metronome, and frequently video record myself.

I didn’t know how to practice for most of my life and I got injury as well as building tons of bad habits. These days my practice is almost all about discovering and correcting bad habits.

I used to practice to build repertoire, now I practice to be a better violinist, but that’s a different topic.

August 29, 2021 at 08:30 PM · Unfortunately I have been unable to practice daily for most of the last three years, due to a series of non-playing injuries. Right now I'm practicing about 45 minutes every other day, which is the most I've done since re-injuring my shoulder in a car accident last year.

Before the injuries started, I was typically practicing 1-1.5 hours, 6 days a week. There were two stretches in my life where I averaged over 3 hours a day for several months, but I normally don't have that kind of free time.

August 29, 2021 at 08:41 PM · I have time to do 3 hours each day but I have felt a little lost recently (having not had a teacher for a little while, but have one now). If I don't have a lesson and input from someone else, I feel like I can't move forward. So I'd average about an hour each day (only so much I can do by myself with no input). But now I have a teacher again, I feel like I can up it to the 3 hour mark

August 29, 2021 at 10:23 PM · One hour or less since the pandemic hit and there are no chamber music sessions or rehearsals to prepare. I go over some etudes mostly, followed by playing through some favorite music; interrupted sometimes by real work on some problem that occurs along the way.

August 30, 2021 at 12:16 AM · I practice 1-2 hours a day, 6 days a week… I break those 2 hours down to 30 minutes with short breaks between.

August 30, 2021 at 12:33 AM · Currently about 1 hour of real practice + 30-60 minutes of recreational playing. I warm up first, about 20 minutes, while the rest of the practice session is review of scales, shifts, double-stops. This keeps me in shape.

What helps me keep the habit going is having some repertoire that I would like to improve at. Also, it helps me to set a definite time to start and a reasonable time to wrap up. Right now, early evenings work best.

August 30, 2021 at 03:47 PM · I was brought up practising half an hour a day, and, during the subsequent periods in my life when I habitually practised/played on my own (I'm in one at the moment), that's what it's remained (though I think that before that wedding in 2007 when I had 6 movements of unaccompained* Bach to perform, 2 on violin & 4 on viola, it was more - I had a lot of catching up to do!).

* (I corrected this typo to start with, then I thought it would be quite appropriate to restore it (poor old JSB/AMB!)!

August 30, 2021 at 04:22 PM · When young, I did one hour per day. I thought of it as a break from my school work. During this forced virus sabbatical, I had hopes of doing more practicing, technical rehab and review. But at age __ there is more time than energy. After about 1 1/2 hours the physical, mental, and emotional fatigue sets in. The planned evening practice sessions never happened.

August 30, 2021 at 05:35 PM · Last year on Sept 6 I asked my teacher about any tips to help with practice.

He said he kept a log of when he practiced.

I thought it sounded stupid and worthless.

On Sept 7 I started to keep a log.

Today is #357 days in a row of practice(including lesson days): 3-4 times per day for 20-40 minutes.

I still suck.(but not quite as bad)

September 1, 2021 at 02:21 PM · "Practice" is a word that I have come to avoid. Skill building, skill maintenance, skill application,... have a better connotation that that of being isolated in your "space" to "practice."

Of course Doctors "Practice" medicine and attorneys "practice" law, and they get paid for it. In the same context they do need to add and maintain their skill-set.

For most of us, who aren't paid to play, the reason we get out our instruments as often as we do is to "play music." The critical issue is to "Play that music well." that means maintaining and adding skills.

I've started to use the terms based on the word skills more than the word practice. To be sure the goal is the same, the approach is different and for some the change of language helps turn an otherwise dismal drudge into a manageable task that you might even enjoy.

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