How much Hours a day do you dedicate to playing instruements?

November 2, 2011 at 02:12 PM · I took violin lessons for 4 years and quite just recently. I seem to like just playing at my own pace. However, because of this, I seem to lack dedication to playing the instrument. Maybe even 15 minutes or even less a day! I would like to know how much hours do you spend playing your musical instruments. Maybe I should get off my a$$ and dedicate some time to better improve.

Replies (28)

November 2, 2011 at 03:00 PM · I just started less than a month ago and some days due to my schedule I don't get to practice. But when I do I get about an hour a day 5-6 days a week.

November 2, 2011 at 03:27 PM · I give it about 3 hours a day -- but not all at once. More details at Anton Mirano's Violin Practice Routine thread -- mine is the first reply.

One thing that helps me is to tell myself: "I will be at practice at __________" -- and then stick to it. What if I don't feel like it? Then I just go ahead and do it anyway, and very soon I do feel like it.

I also find it crucial to have a goal for each session -- and a reasonable cut-off time, about 90 minutes after starting, so that I still have a strong appetite for the next attempt.

November 2, 2011 at 04:01 PM · Two hours per day during the week (I work full time) and maybe 3 hours on the weekend.

---Ann Marie

November 2, 2011 at 04:10 PM · I did an interesting experiment a number of years ago to see how productive my practice was. I set a stopwatch on at the beginning of my practice. If my mind wandered, or I was not being productive, the stopwatch was turned off. I found out that it actually took about 5 hours to achieve 2 1/2 hours of truly concentrated practice.

November 2, 2011 at 04:36 PM · I keep a detailed log book of all my playing - practise, lessons and ensemble. I average between 2 and 3 hrs a day. As Jim said, 90 minutes is about the limit for one session - even though I may feel like continuing physical issues start to kick in and its just not worth it. However, I think 60-70 minutes is ideal.

For me its not how much can I make myself practise but how can I drag myself away to do other things :) (and I also have a demanding job).

November 2, 2011 at 04:42 PM · My teacher once asked me how much I practice (I have the goal of doing this professionally). I answered 4-5 hours a day, and he became quite angry. If I was truly practicing that much a day, he told me, I should have had this concerto movement learned and performance ready in a week.

He stressed the importance of having a goal in mind and practicing intelligently. Finding the issues, even if they are just a few notes or a measure or two in length, drilling them and dissecting them...and solving them before you allow yourself to stop.

A well-regarded conservatory teacher who is now playing with the Berlin Phil told me something similar. He expressly said, "you don't need to do any more than 3 hours a day".

Of course, I tend to wonder how much these professionals practiced in their youth or when they were in music school...surely more than 3 hours...but then, why would they lie/mislead me?

I've since stopped using a clock when I practice. I don't keep track of the time, though I make sure to play every day with the intent of solving an issue or drilling technique. It's taken me this long to trust in this advice and quit measuring my self worth in hours of meaningless "practice" per day. My growth since this final revelation has been exponential. :)

November 2, 2011 at 05:50 PM · Having your brain engaged during practice is far more beneficial than just going through the motions of practicing. It's not the quantity but the quality that matters.

Setting goals is important. Decide where your issues are and work on those issues, take the piece apart line by line, measure by measure if needed.

November 2, 2011 at 06:02 PM · omg,,,jim as a amateur still practices 3 hours a day?!

totally hopeless for my kid whose current daily practicing is more easily counted in minutes!

November 2, 2011 at 06:08 PM · The OP referred to playing instruments, not just practicing, so we should include rehearsals, which are not times for practice as conductors and others are frequently at pains to inform us ;), actual performances, lessons, and of course playing for fun and relaxation, which for me is the 2-3 hours solid playing in a pub once or twice a week of English or Irish folk music (without the dots, of course).

[EDIT] In an ideal world I'd expect to be doing 2 hours regular practice every day, but it's not an ideal world and so that target is achievable only once or twice a week if I'm lucky, and the rest of the time it's more like 30mins - 1 hour per day (but I do try to make even that little bit worth my while). As I've indicated above, the other types of playing I do are a different issue.

November 2, 2011 at 10:06 PM · I agree that even discussions about time spent practicing/playing can be misleading. If your teacher is impressed with your progress, then you are practicing the right amount. My favorite teacher used to say "don't take a shower in dirty water", meaning if you are simply making the same mistakes X number of times, or for three hours a day, then you are doing more harm than good. As far as keeping a record goes, I would rather spend the time playing than keeping detailed notes on what I have done, once met with a teacher that thought her progress was impressive because of her practice journal (she showed me quite proudly) being jammed with notes. She sounded terrible to me and it was a shame her focus was on the journal and putting in that time, like she was laying brick or something, IMO.

November 2, 2011 at 10:24 PM · I am with violin for about 12+ hrsva day. I practice for 4 and I organise my practice into sections, this allows me to keep to things that I'd perhaps like to avoid and not get bogged down and o.d. on aspects that cannot be accomplished in a day. But saying this, I recently I'll and therefore only able to complete 1 hr, and I made more progress in that hr than I did in the previous days four hrs. I think what I'm trying to say is that it's quality not quantity. I agree that you should set time-limits but relax and don't worry about the occasional day off.

November 2, 2011 at 10:25 PM · P.s. sorry about grammar, my new android combined with new spell check make for a bad combo

November 2, 2011 at 10:36 PM · "... jim as a amateur still practices 3 hours a day?!"

As a student, I was up to 5 hours a day -- plus lessons and rehearsals and performing. Now it's about 100 minutes of practicing and about 80 minutes of playing.

November 3, 2011 at 01:03 AM · As someone has already mentioned, it depends how much work you get done.

When I was younger, an hour a day sufficed to cover my lesson material, and for the most part sight-read all my orchestra music without much difficulty.

While working on my graduate degree, I had a lot of "catch up" to do (I spent undergrad and my first career as a software developer), so for the better part of a year I was on my instrument 7-8 hours a day, if not more.

I discovered a lot about how to practice without injuring myself, and also how to be as efficient as possible to get the maximum benefit of time.

November 3, 2011 at 01:27 AM · Being employed outside the music field, I practice 1 hour a day during the week, and maybe about 4 hrs spread out though day on weekends. I also play in a chamber group which meets once a week for 2 hrs.

November 3, 2011 at 02:47 AM · Being the busy homeschool student that I am, I don't get to practice every day, but usually 2 hrs a day 4-5 days a week. I find that I can't play for more than 45 minutes straight, so I spread it out over the whole day.

November 3, 2011 at 03:40 AM · @Jessica I thought home-schooling left MORE time for stuff like musical instruments. Maybe you have too many other activities?

I typically practice an hour a day, sometimes up to two hours if I have more time, but usually I can't afford that. Fortunately I do not need to make my living playing the violin.

November 3, 2011 at 06:23 AM · Thankyou for all of your responses! Maybe Ill try to get the motivation to take more dedication to practicing and playing my violin ;D THANKYOU ALL!

November 4, 2011 at 02:38 AM · @Paul,

Most people tend to think homeschoolers are not socialized at all, therefore we have so much time on our hands. Actually, I'm kept so busy running from one social activity to the next between a full load of classes and schoolwork that it's just not possible to play my violin every day. During the summer when school's out I usually have more time to practice.

November 4, 2011 at 04:10 AM · I used to practice 5-8 hours a day. Now I do about 3-6. It really depends on how much repertoire I'm covering and how difficult the pieces are. All of the practicing is useless I think if there's no proper warm up with scales and etudes to set a good foundation. So I devote at least 1 hour and a half each day to scales. They're like the violin version of calisthenics for athletes.

I don't believe any of these great players who say they don't practice. That's what some of them would like you to think. :) Heifetz practiced a lot I know. Milstein according to my teacher (who also studied with him) practiced at least 6-7 hours a day (even in his 80's).

I have a friend who got into a big 5 orchestra and this person practiced 7 hours a day normally.

November 4, 2011 at 07:19 AM · @nate

I recall watching or reading documentary that Heifetz said he practiced a lot in his youth and never practiced more than 4 hours a day after adulthood. He even took Sundays off. Auer mentioned in his book that some people are natural so they don't require a lot of practice to keep their touch.

I used to practice 4 - 6 hrs a day? just practice not counting the breaks. I haven't played for 5 years just recently started playing and performing again. cause I am really busy, I focus more on quality so it actually doesn't take as much time to accomplish as I did, though i sometimes still practice 4 or 5 hrs a day when i can

November 4, 2011 at 09:25 AM · Steven, from what I know about Heifetz he practiced a ton. I know in his PR it might've said otherwise. :)Yes I agree quality is the more important factor. If you practice a lot with mistakes, you're just reinforcing them. So in that sense, practicing can be counterproductive as well. But if you practice alot with good principles (as Heifetz or Milstein did) it can only help.

November 4, 2011 at 02:34 PM · I have obviously been practicing very wrong as I now have tendonitis in the right shoulder and upper arm. When this passes, and it will, does anyone know of a warmup program that an old goat can use prior to practice. I have practiced 1-3 hours per day but I created my problem by not takng any breaks in that time(at least I think so) From what I have read today, I realized that my method of practice was not the best. I had no real goal other than the music in front of me.

I would appreciate info on good practice methods, Prepractice warm ups (Physical) or any other that someone might think helpful.

November 4, 2011 at 04:13 PM · I spend about 2 hours a day putting my fingers down perfectly in tune in all positions of the finger board. Then another 2 hours on bowing tec. ricc. ext. Only then is it concerto, then sonata, then etudes then scales So about 6 hours a day, but four of those hours are at ease (sitting or standing relaxed) putting fingers down slowly and carefully.

May 11, 2012 at 07:14 AM · I discovered that for me it is more important to play regularly than to play for a long time, therefore I practice 7 days a week without exeptions, but only for 40-90 minutes each day.

Even if I just practice 20 minutes on one day, as long as I do practice every single day, my skills keep improving noticeably.

During the week I do not have time for more than 90 minutes of practicing, but on the weekends I do not want to do more practicing either. It feels like I am simply "done" after an hour. That is all I can do for this day, afterwards I cannot keep the concentration. I can however start playing pieces, just no finger exercices or etudes anymore.

This worries me greatly, because I would actually love to play through a whole weekend, if there is nothing else to do. It just never worked. Maybe I'll try tomorrow.

May 11, 2012 at 08:43 AM · Ellie: 3 hours at your age is very good. The difficulty is to get it an average number and not the maximum. For building up to be a professional more is definetily better. 4 hours everybody can handle physically if approached right. I just recently read about a violinist, who played in elisabeth competition and made second price, that he started practicing 6-8 hours regularly 6 months before competition. Thats the way it goes and in my believe the only way to cover such an big repertoire in such an high quality.

People will tell you 4 hours is maximum. I tell you: try to be on the edge. Be sensitive to your body and health and try to get es much time on the violin as possible.

Of course the quality of practice is also important if not more important. Read about mental practice too, that way you can practice everywhere you go, even without the violin. But if you are not sleepy or in a bad mood, time on the instrument can never do you any harm. When being professional you will have to be able to play in every situation/state of mind too.

May 11, 2012 at 10:20 AM · I've averaged over 2 hrs a day (almost all practise but also including performances, quartets and lessons) for 1.5 yrs now (I have an accurate log) but find that my time is actually creeping up: I think I'm averaging 3 hrs now.

To maintain quality I recommend two things: first, keep a log book - in it I note the time I start and then the time that I finish each element of my practise. It keeps you honest with your technical wor - 10 minutes doing scales is actually a very long time! And if I'm goofing off sight reading repertoire for fun, that goes in there too.

The other thing is do your 'work' first - scales etudes and then move to your pieces. When you feel done, work on more diverse stuff for interest and fun - memorizing a favorite piece (you always need something you can pull out of your head) or download interesting stuff from IMSLP and sight read. Its virtually free and gives hours of entertainment - and develops both your sight reading and musicallity.

May 11, 2012 at 03:29 PM · It depends on my schedule. On average I practice 3-5 hours a day, and usually its 5. Sometimes with midterms/finals I have to cut that down to around 2 and if its really bad only 1.. I never have a day of not practicing or at least playing at least an hour because I feel daily maintenance is necessary to keep your playing healthy.. This summer I plan on practicing 6 or so, 3 in the morning and 3 in the evening. I want to be a professional violist too, but I started drastically late so that's why I'm trying to catch up.

I agree with the idea of quality over quality, and in terms of my personal practice routine, I try to organize what I want to accomplish that day and then try to schedule my time accordingly. I will admit that there comes a point where a person, or at least me, cannot concentrate on practicing anymore, and that is when I put down the instrument for the day and just listen to recordings or play a game or something to relieve mental strain.

Hopefully this wasn't me yapping and gives you some ideas as to approach practicing.

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