How much practicing should be enough for a beginner?

June 3, 2018, 9:07 AM · So, today I had this conversation with my sister(S) where she told me(M) that 1 hour of practice is 'that's its'.
This is how the conversation went:
S: you didn't play your violin today.
M: yes I did.
S: no.
M: I did. For about an hour.
S: that's it?
M: a lot of professionals and teachers don't recommend that beginners push themselves.
(This statement of mine turned our convo into a fight)
A few days before when i told her I played for half an hour that day she said i won't get better that way. She plays the acoustic guitar.
I want to know why she says that. Is it too little practice?

Replies (25)

June 3, 2018, 9:13 AM · Most beginners don't practice a lot (<1 hour per day) is because they have little material to work on. Plus, their body is just getting used to playing. If you play something like 4+ hours a day for a beginner, you could get really tired and maybe even hurt yourself.
Edited: June 3, 2018, 9:44 AM · "Beginner" is too broad.

There are nine levels of student achievement.

Intermediate beginner
Advanced beginner

Beginning Intermediate
Advanced Intermediate

Beginning Advanced
Intermediate advanced

June 3, 2018, 10:20 AM · From previous postings by Violetta, she has only been playing for a few months and is teaching herself due to severe challenges getting lessons.
June 3, 2018, 10:22 AM · Ryan, i agree. It helps to definite ones abilities more clearly. Not to derail but could you elaborate on where you situate your categories wrt etudes and rĂ©pertoires, in terms of technique learnt (or perhaps in terms of levels)? You could then perhaps give what you think is an appropriate practice session for the categories It might be too much for a post so I understand if you don't have the time :)
June 3, 2018, 10:23 AM · I think that nobody could say that a student practicing 1 hour a day, everyday, is slacking. It's good.
But ahead in the road when homework piles up (warming up, scales, etudes, lyrical piece), it would be difficult to put all that in only one hour... Maybe she's in that stage and 1 hour seems insufficient for her...
June 3, 2018, 11:30 AM · As much as your 1st neighbour - cohabitant can tolerate!
Edited: June 5, 2018, 1:58 PM ·
June 3, 2018, 3:06 PM · Violetta, I would say practice as much as you want to, especially as a beginner, there are so much out there to inspire you, why limit yourself the chances of learning at such budding stage? I don't know about you, for me, it's always a golden period of learning when I first start something as I would get obsessed and want to do it again and again.

That said, some important things to consider
1. What is practice? For some, practice means pick up the fiddle and run through stuff you are working on. For me, it's a lot broader. Practicing is mostly observing what you are doing (listening and watching in the mirror and recording yourself), identifying issues and finding ways to fix them. Other ways of practice including studying the music without violin and sing in your head or out loud, air-playing with fingering and bowings, counting how many notes on each string if you are practicing something with string crossing, watching a lots of performance, etc.
2. Quality is more important than quantity. It's no use to practice for more than one hour/day if you don't know what you try to achieve.
3. Take a lot of mini-breaks (every 15-20 min), rest and stretch so as not to injure yourself.

Happy practice!

June 3, 2018, 5:34 PM · Ideally, "practice" should be a lifestyle, not a single act.
June 3, 2018, 7:30 PM · Hour a day is good enough.
June 4, 2018, 7:34 AM · What Eric said.
June 4, 2018, 8:19 AM · An hour a day is good, and I find a minimum if one wishes to make progress. More is better, but not all at once. Better to break it into 30-45min sessions.
June 4, 2018, 9:02 AM · Open strings, 30 mins per day last for half a year.
Various scales (1st to 3rd position) 30 mins per day during the first 6 months (you can use one of Sevcik, Carl Flesch or Schradieck)
For the first 6 months, one hour a day will be sufficient.

Easy etudes, during the first two years (we used Curci/Wolfhart and first part of Kayser), one to two hours per day: one hour for scales, another one for etudes.

Intermediate level: during 3rd to 5th years (we used second part of Kayser, Mazas, first part of Kreutzer), two to three hours per day: one hour for scales (up to three ottave and arpeggio), one hour for etude(s), and one hour for repertoire (if have).

I think for beginner up to three hours per day is very sufficient.

June 4, 2018, 9:11 AM · Practice as much as you can where you stay relaxed and focused. You have to find the total amount and frequency that works for you, but if you are cutting off your practice for an arbitrary reason, then you won't make as much progress. Of course, it's hard to stay focused for a whole hour. You can always experiment with two 45-minute sessions.

Figure out what tasks you want to practice, and structure your practice around that.

June 4, 2018, 12:22 PM · Violetta, there really is no "minimum" amount of time to improve. So, for your sister to say that you "won't improve" with an hour a day is simply incorrect. In fact, you could improve with only 10 minutes a day. The process of improvement isn't binary (on/off). It is dynamic and you can improve with fairly small amounts of practice. However, you will improve at a rate proportional to the amount of practice that happens. So as a general rule, someone who practices an hour a day will improve at double the rate of someone who practices 30 minutes per day.

If you're satisfied with your current rate of progress, then you should keep practicing that amount. If/when you hit a wall in the future and you feel like your progress is crawling, then you might think to increase the daily time you put in.

The only complication with increasing your practice time now would be that you could potentially hurt yourself, but honestly, if you split up the practice and are AWARE of your body at all times, it's pretty unlikely you'll injure yourself by doing more. Just take note of any pain/soreness/overuse as you practice and address it if necessary.

June 4, 2018, 1:53 PM · During my violin life as well as my academic life I've tended to use "frustration point" as the place to stop practice/study. I've learned that going way beyond the frustration point yields little to no progress.

That means that it varies from day-to-day and is influenced by outside factors/issues.

Of course you should have a "Practice-Plan" with some specific goals you want to achieve each day.

I do know that some people manage to push-through the frustration point into the next realm of study/practice - I'm not one of them. The real key for me is daily consistency. Even in my old age and retirement I maintain a schedule that is borderline OCD and my goal is to play the music I'm working on just a bit better today than yesterday.

Your experience will be different because we are all different.

June 5, 2018, 4:13 AM · During my violin life as well as my academic life I've tended to use "frustration point" as the place to stop practice/study. I've learned that going way beyond the frustration point yields little to no progress.

While that's mostly true, the way to break through that frustration point is to find and correct the cause of frustration. When in doubt, just work on your weakness. If I'm getting really frustrated that I can't play something, I try to figure out what's causing the frustration - a shift? the fingering? etc. If I can't figure it out, I realize that 90% of the time my problems are bowing related, so (after a break so I don't smash the violin against the chair) I do some bowing exercises. If nothing else, it lets me end my practice session on a positive note rather than giving up in a fit of frustration.

June 5, 2018, 10:10 AM · Tutti, I find your plan unbalanced, like doing push-ups before learning to walk. A beginner deserves well chosen musical goals right from the beginning, and well chosen "technique" enables them to achieve those goals.
I would not send my children or friends to the programme you describe.
June 5, 2018, 10:45 AM · Adrian Heath, it is not important whether you will send your children or friends to the plan I described, what I have described is based on professional training schedule in conservatories in our country. For every learner, a solid technique is foundation and necessary requirement for long-term progress, I think Auer would also agree with me.
Edited: June 5, 2018, 12:13 PM · Tutti, the OP asked about beginners. To the best of my knowledge, Auer never taught beginners, either as children or adults; his method confirms this. The first volume (open strings only) I use as supplementary or remedial work, but not as a beginner's "method".

I give my all students a solid technique.. with musical goals, as did Auer, according to his writings, and judging by his Method taken as a whole.

June 5, 2018, 1:24 PM · I'd even say drilling on open strings for long periods each day is a total waste of time for a beginner. You need enough overall familiarity with the instrument to know what you're trying to accomplish with that open string practice.
June 5, 2018, 2:59 PM · I inherited two students who had done a year in this way. One was left-handed, and her left hand had no problem "leading" such a well-trained right hand; the other was right-handed, and the "awakening" of the left hand to its newly dominant role was very frustrating.

Just to say there are no quick, slick answers..

June 5, 2018, 5:55 PM · It's less about time and more about the intelligence of your approach and the depth of your concentration.
June 5, 2018, 6:21 PM · I've been reading this with rapt attention. Here's my .000002 worth.

We are all different with different backgrounds. We also have different teachers. We don't all learn the same materials.Some have physical limitations that can be exacerbated by extra long practice times.

I don't think you will ever get a text book answer to the question. In addition to this, just because it's in a text book it isn't necessarily correct.

I think we might have a rough consensus that anything under an hour is probably not conductive to rapid progress. Doesn't mean it isn't helpful.
Any practice exceeding 4 hours could potentially cause injury. That gives us all some wiggle room doesn't it?

I seldom look at a clock. I pick up the violin and play it until I can't play it any more. I have no idea how long that is :)

Edited: June 6, 2018, 8:22 AM · For the first year beginner, 1/2 hour per day, every day, is about right. More than that might risk locking-in some bad mechanical habits. At any level I think that one hour of technical work is enough to maintain and improve skills: warm-up, exercises, scales and arpeggios, one bowing etude, one left-hand etude. One of my teachers had this method with beginners; three short lessons per week (!), and the violin stayed with the teacher, no practicing at all, until they were ready to practice on their own.

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