How much did you practise as a kid?

June 7, 2019, 3:52 AM · Practise makes perfect and permanent in a positive and negative way.
But how much practise is the usual amount for a kid?

So lets say, those of you who started early, how much daily practise did you practise as a kid and what age were you when you were a Suzuki 4-5 level or comparable level of other teaching styles?

In my country there are two views on practise. One is that young children (under 10) are not required to practise vey much. I would think that 15-30 minutes daily is what most people would call good practise. Often parents also expect the children to want to do their practise without help or any forcing. And if the childdren prefer to play videogames instead of scales, its just accepted.

The other view is of course that violin is a difficult instrument and it needs daily practise and young children need much encouragement to practise as they need in order to do their homework or clean the floor of their room etc. Generally parents with musical backgrounds support this view more.

But how much is how much? We practise daily about 45 minutes with my 6 year old and most of my own friends think it is a very long time. But i just cannot understand how she could advance at all at this level, if we only played for less? The pieces are so long in book 4.

So would be interesting to know how much you practised?

Replies (41)

June 7, 2019, 5:11 AM · I'm curious where you live, maybe we live in the same country :) I recognize your story completely haha. How normal it is for kids to game for more than an hour a day, but when your child spends the same amount of time on her music they find it strange and worrying…

Our daughter is 7 years old, started playing about 1 1/2 year ago. I recognize the struggle parents can have with their kids and practicing from our eldest children, but our 7 year old has always played a lot on her violin.

The last couple of months she is making a transition from playing to real studying (taking her own responsibility, scales, exercises, slow repeats etc.), which goes with ups and downs ;-) Especially the repeats she find hard to do, but most of the times she is really focused and enjoying herself. At the moment she is studying about 45 a 60 minutes a day, sometimes longer, besides lessons (1 private, 1 group and now and then with piano accompany).

She's not doing Suzuki, but to give you an idea: she just started playing in 3th position. If I look at the Suzuki books, she can play the pieces in book 3.

Most people think I'm probably pushing her, but the girl just wants to play (and after playing on her violin she wants to look at 2set violin clips and other kids playing violin on youtube haha). As a parent I found daily practice really important, but that's about it. Our other kids play piano, also daily, but if they play 15 minutes a day I'm really pleased ;-)

Edited: June 7, 2019, 6:18 AM · For most of my childhood (the part I can remember) I practiced 45 minutes per day on each of two instruments, violin and piano. I never got very good on either, but I developed basic functional skills. However we took long vacations in the summer and I didn't bring my violin along then, so I always took a big step back every year. I had good piano teachers but they changed too often as they moved away, etc. I had only one violin teacher my whole childhood who was, in hindsight, not very good.

Mikki's daughter is making good progress. My suggestion to her/him is, don't push if you don't have to. That time will surely come.

June 7, 2019, 7:30 AM · I'm trying to remember, which seems harder and harder these days! But my kids, who were close to the same level at that age, typically practiced 15 minutes in the morning before school and then 30-45 after school. My nine-year-old, who just plays for fun (Book 7 level), still usually only does a total of 45 minutes, but my more motivated kiddo was up to probably 75 minutes by age 9.

The morning practice is usually scales, exercises, etudes, and at that age Suzuki review. The afternoon was on pieces and then eventually also orchestra music once they started orchestra.

I have two suggestions that have really helped us. One is to always break the practice into two chunks. Much more is accomplished that way, and your kid will likely be able to focus fully through the smaller chunks. My older kid now does three chunks a day, with the longest chunk usually being 60 minutes (he's 14).

The other suggestion is to make sure you are practicing smartly. You need a lot less time if everything you do is done smartly. I still practice virtually everything with my 9-year-old. And while my older kid is perfectly capable of practicing on his own, he usually asks me to listen to him play for at least 60 minutes of his practice because he knows it keeps him accountable and on track.

June 7, 2019, 8:13 AM · Impossible to remember and all too easy to flatter oneself.
Piano up to 2 hours a day.
Oboe up to 2 minutes a day!
June 7, 2019, 9:07 AM · Hmmm... I'm with Paul - it was a long time ago, but I remember practicing an hour a day without fail because my (in hindsight not very good) teacher would not teach me without this amount of practice a day.

When I got more serious in later high school, Mozart 3 level, I was practicing anywhere from 1-3hrs a day. (In reality, this time was wasted because I was playing and not practicing, but that's another gripe session...) I was also in orchestra daily, which was an hour long class.

I remember breaking my practice up into smaller chunks (approximately two 30 min segments, or multiple 45 min segments) when I was growing up. I'd get my homework done, have a snack or whatever, practice, then take a break to play Super Mario Kart for a bit, then practice until it was time for dinner.

Edited: June 7, 2019, 10:26 AM · I started Suzuki at age 6 and I'm guessing that we were lucky if we got a regular 10 to 15 minutes in.

By the time I was doing Suzuki book 4 (around age 9), I was generally practicing up to 30 minutes a day, I think, but not consistently. By then there was just a lot of stuff to get through -- scales, exercises, etudes, sight-reading, and repertoire.

For reference, I'll give the rest of the history, since it illustrates that you can get a lot done without pouring time into it:

By the time I was at a true intermediate level (doing Kreutzer, the student concertos, etc.), around age 11, I was generally at the 45-minute mark.

Through high school, I never really exceeded a regular 45 minutes a day, which was the parent-mandated amount. I generally practiced 5 days a week -- leaving out youth symphony and lesson days. And a lot of my practice was highly inattentive. (My mother caught me reading comic books off my music stand, I'll put it that way.) By that time I was doing the major concertos. I would sometimes do an hour, especially if I had an audition or the like.

For about half a year, with a new teacher, during my last year playing before quitting, I practiced two to four hours a day, pretty much without fail. Then, I was doing the Tchaikovsky, working on Paganini Caprices, etc.

My childhood practice was generally all in a single session.

When I came back to the violin as an adult, the first time, I was frequently practicing about 1 hour 20 minutes each day, in two 40-minute sessions. I practiced pretty close to every day -- I'd generally get in one of the sessions.

When I came back to the violin as an adult, the second time, it was much more hit and miss. I was averaging about 40 minutes a day, initially, which eventually declined to its present level, where I average about 20 minutes a day. And there have been many days when I don't practice at all.

June 7, 2019, 11:08 AM · Lydia - well, then I guess I can stop being so worried about obtaining any eventual rep if with such inattentive practice you had achieved that much as a kid. I know I worked hard as a kid, as inefficient as I "practiced", er played, even with getting the Bruch under my belt by the time I quit the first time 'round. Now, I'm muddling about in the intermediate zone - even though I feel like I sound solid and my teacher seems pleased and excited to work with me, I fear I'll never play a Paganini Caprice the way it *should* be played (which by the by I won the Urtext through v.com's contest!) nor access the "simpler" works on my list: Prokofiev 5 Melodies, or Szymanowski Mythes. Ah well, maybe one day...

I have a pretty good practice schedule now, that is really efficient for me and my time. I average 90mins of practice per day, and if I miss a day I will generally be practicing whatever I can mentally and otherwise. I tend to feel guilty if I miss a day, or god forbid two, of practice a week. If I could spend three hours a day practicing, I most certainly would!

June 7, 2019, 11:45 AM · Hardly at all for the 6 years or so I played (6-13)! It wasn't easy to do so at home so I practiced occasionally in the school music room during free periods - but that was it. Lousy student! But practice did not seem so necessary as I never had private lessons....

However, I think I started making up for it by consistently practicing for ~3 hrs a day virtually every day for 5 years from 2008 (I even have a record).

Edited: June 7, 2019, 12:41 PM · This is really interesting reading :)

I probably should tell my own practise history too (with piano). I started at 6 with a quite bad teacher (my very very amateurish mother lol), no practise daily. St the age of 7 I was with a real teacher, which was not strict at all so I ended up not really practising except playing the pieces once or twice and certainly not daily. Practise time was in average 5-10 minutes, though I improvized quite often and probably thanks to that did the exams.

At 13 got a good teacher and started practising daily, cannot remember the actual amount but I do remember that by 16 I was practising for an hour daily or even more on some days. At that time I was thinking about whether to become a pino teacher (which I did not) and I had 2 pupils of my own.

Now where did that amount of practise get me.? Wee, I did the exmas we use here regularly but in hindsight I can for sure say that my fingers did not develop the way they should have simply for the very small amount of practise I did. In hindsight it is sad, but I had difficulties both at home and at school, so it is understandable.

Dont want my girl to be in the same situation with technique lacking due to inadequate practise and therefore we do practise together and will do as long as needed and as long as she will be reasonably happy about it. She is mothers girl, so she would go on improvizing and play the pieces through but would forget repetitions and corrections and all the stuff that makes up intelligent practise. Well, she is 6, so no wonder.

Mikki, Im from Finland, you too?
Yes, its a problem here that many people think even playing 30 minutes daily is too much of a chore for children. Children mostly have very free upbringings here, which is good in a sense. But if it means lots of screen time and no demanding hobbies, then it is not good in my view. There is a balance to be attempted. And of course children are very different, it is a lot easier, if the children take up after one in their talents.

For example today my girl was in the kindergarden for 7 hours, we practised violin for 50 minutes, she watched cartoons for a half an hour and the rest of the day roamed freely outside with her friends without adult supervision until 7 pm. It really is safe here, kids this age dont need parents to look after them ourside, if they are reasonably wise, that is :)

June 7, 2019, 2:19 PM · I did not practice enough. For the beginner to intermediate stages, 6th grade to high school (USA system), I did one hour per day, 6 days per week, with the hour lesson on the 7th day. At the 12th grade level I was doing auditions with the Mendelssohn, Bruch, Saint-Saens concertos. At one point I tried to do 2-3 hours a day, but the results were not that much better, so I pulled back to one hour. One summer I was distracted by the guitar. That one hour per day was an escape from the serious pre-college math and science H.S. courses. I, and my teacher, were somewhat naive, and NOT being accepted at the major big city music school came as a shock. I still think that one hour every day is enough for good technical progress, but when you add the repertoire, Leopold Auer's advice to serious players is still valid: "Practice three hours a day, four if you are a little stupid."
June 7, 2019, 3:20 PM · At the first group lesson in public school, the teacher told us to practice 1/2 hour each day. That evening, I dutifully tried to practice for 1/2 on holding the violin and drawing the bow on open strings. However, I did not know enough after one 1/2 hour group class to do anything but put the violin and bow in the correct hands, grasping the frog with the right, the bout of the violin with the left and move the bow back and forth on the string. It got boring and pointless quickly that evening, and so began my childhood of not practicing because I didn't know how to do it (and didn't know that I didn't know how to do it).

Once I started individual lessons, I learned to learn the notes. That could be accomplished in one or two days of 1/2 hour practice.

With my second teacher, I began to understand the point of practicing a little better, and started to practice more. From the age of 14 to 17, I practiced probably 1.5 to 2 hours during the summer, and probably four to five days of 1 hour during the school year.

When I took lessons in college, I practiced perhaps 2-4 days per week for 1 or 1.5 hours. It wasn't adequate, so I finally quit lessons.

In college when I was not taking lessons, I might have logged one time per week for 1 hour to "learn the notes," or at least the rhythms of the orchestral music, and figure out some fingerings that I thought might be successful.

After college, I didn't touch the violin for nearly 30 years. I just hit my 1 year anniversary as a returnee at the end of May. I've probably logged 400-475 hours this year, so a little more than one hour each day.

June 7, 2019, 5:11 PM · Pamela, I suspect that my relative lack of practice was "good" in two ways. One was that the a substantial percentage of my time working on, say, an etude, was actually done in a lesson, under the direct supervision of my teacher. So I never really wasted much time in blind trial and error, or getting a technique wrong and then having to unlearn and re-learn it.

The other was that my practice sessions were packed with material. As a result, I was task-switching frequently, which drives learning efficiency per minute spent, essentially. I also wasn't wasting time playing through things that weren't hard. My teachers were good about specifying practice methods for different types of problems, and if I didn't have a solution, I'd generally just skip it and ask about it at my next lesson.

Even these days, I'm making noticeable improvements and learning quite a bit of repertoire with limited time spent. If I'm only getting in 20 minutes, it's still a goal-directed and highly productive 20 minutes.

(Note: I have an unusually good memory, which may be a factor in some of this. I will usually automatically memorize whatever I'm working on in the first week of learning it. When I was a Suzuki kid, that was very helpful, and the aural retention was great for me; I can still play the first couple of books of the repertoire by memory, I think.)

June 7, 2019, 10:23 PM · Our daughter did 15-30 minutes from 5-7, 30-45 7-8
9 an hour. At 9-10 (present) as she has added more scale and etude work we do 45min in morning and 46-60 in evening. At least it is what we shoot for.
Seems like a minimum to stay on an arc to have the option of going to a performance school. We don’t have a TV and the other screen time she gets is usually bartered for violin time and accomplishment. She has plenty of open play free time and reading time. In 5th grade school there is not much homework. She is in Book 8, but mostly working outside on Mozart 3, Kreutzer, beginning Bach Partita 2.
June 7, 2019, 11:50 PM · My daughter used to be driven and dedicated when she was younger. She started practicing 45 min when she was 3. We had to tell her to stop practicing after 45 min and she used to argue with us that she should be allowed to practice as much as she wants. By the time she was 6, I think she was putting in 2 hours on violin and an hour on piano but it seemed like more she practiced and advanced, worse she sounded, if that makes any sense.

So, it's really not how long you practice but how well you practice and that guidance has to come from the teacher.

June 7, 2019, 11:56 PM · My son, who turned 6 recently, riches that point, when he needs to make an afford to get the results. It is hard to start him to practice, but once he started he does it on his own with very high level of concentrations.
He knows, that it should be warm-up, scales, and sevchik, and schradek before any practice. It takes about 20-25 min to warm-up. And the practice itself takes from 20 to 60 min, depending on his mood and how fast he solves a specific problem in his repertuar. (Tasks from the teacher).

He has memorization problems, so he sight-read two-three times and then tries without music.

And he got a lot better motivated once he was asked to play violin for a movie-production and got his own real salary.

I have signed up him for an international competition- and it helps him now to focus on polishing his two major pieces.
Reiding Si bimol, and Mazurka by Baklanova.

It is still a lot of work ahead to get those memorized for the competition.
))))

June 8, 2019, 7:04 AM · From 10-12 I practiced most days for roughly one hour. I don't really remember how much/often I practiced from 7-10 other than that I DID. No private lessons, it was all through school.
June 8, 2019, 9:18 AM · I was quite consistent as a younger child (up to an hour a day), but then in middle/high school there were long periods where I'd barely touch the violin apart from lessons and rehearsals. I don't remember ever doing more than two hours a day until about the age of 17 or 18.

I have no doubt that practising more as a teenager would've made things easier for me now, but what's done is done & I've managed to make it a fairly even playing field by working extra smart for the last few years.

June 8, 2019, 10:04 AM · Lydia - I remember my lessons being used for that purpose too, so maybe that's why I don't remember learning how to practice on my own (I really need to figure things out for myself to retain how to do something - if you tell me how to do it, and I don't know all the bits leading up to it, forget it. I'm lost.)

I have a not great memory, I've always been that way. (I remember trying to memorize vocabulary lists in school and it being a grueling task.) Half the time I cannot remember the name of the key signatures, or if given the name of a key signature will give the incorrect sharps/flats! It's really challenging.

June 8, 2019, 11:46 AM · Gemma K, I was just wondering, are you a professional violinist, or studying to become one?
Edited: June 8, 2019, 5:36 PM · My mother “forced” to practice a hour a day before I was ten. After ten, I practiced about two hours a day, motivated mostly by wanting to move to the front of the orchestra. I gave up the violin at 17.
June 8, 2019, 12:42 PM · I practiced 7 hours a day. However, is i was busy, It would be 3 hours a day.
June 8, 2019, 12:43 PM · David Zhang


How old are you? (Just curious)

Why did you give violin up?

June 8, 2019, 2:27 PM · I am curious about why parents making children to practice that long? I understand dedication and descipline are good qualities. But I doubt the productivity of practising, especially if it is not self motivated and the child does not understand what to focus. What is our initiation about music education? I guess it is for fun and as a part of broad education, in most cases.
June 8, 2019, 8:16 PM · A child who isn't practicing at least 30 minutes a day is probably wasting their time learning the violin. It's hard to really become skilled on less practice time, and at that point you might as well invest the time in something else.
Edited: June 8, 2019, 8:57 PM · I am now *very grateful* that my mother “forced” me to practice a hour a day when I was a kid. I wish she had encouraged me to practice more.
June 8, 2019, 10:37 PM · Sorry Jean I forgot to say. I am studying at a conservatory hoping to be a professional. Still definitely have a few years ahead of me before that can happen.
Edited: June 9, 2019, 2:32 AM · Jennifer, Lydia is so right. There is no point in palying the violin, if one does not practise at least 30 minutes, preferably more daily, it is just a waste of everyones time and money when one does not practise. With piano one can get away with minimal practise but not with violin.

I also am in the opinion that playing the violin furthers mathematical and memory abilities in a child and thus makes other stuff easier for the child.

But of course all the positive outcomes come only when the child wants to play the violin. It is all negative if the child is forced to play an instrument she does not actually want to play. But if the child does not want to practise, it is not indicative of not wanting to play the violin, only that practising is more boring than free time outdoors with her friends. And perceverance has to be taught, most of us are not born with it.

June 10, 2019, 5:38 PM · Thinking back to my book 4 days (I was 10 at that time), I probably practiced about an hour a day everyday (except for lesson days). I think what's considered the 'normal' amount of practice really depends on a) how interested the kid is in getting better at the violin and b) how well they use their time.

When I was younger I was always very interested in the violin, but I didn't take it as seriously as I do now. As a beginner, I started out with only practicing an hour a day, but now I practice much longer, sometimes up to three or four hours. Also, practicing isn't so much about how long you spend on your instrument, it's more of how much you gained from the practice session.

I do think that 45 mins on a book 4 level is a bit short, but do keep in mind that as the child progresses and gets better at the violin, their practice time will increase as well. For now, I think it would be a good idea to have your child sit down with their teacher and come up with a reasonable practice time. Hope this helps!

June 10, 2019, 7:07 PM · not enough.
June 11, 2019, 6:42 AM · When I started in 4th grade, 15-20 minutes, as I progressed it increased to up to ~2 hours a day when in high school, in addition to my 30 min weekly violin private lesson.
June 11, 2019, 10:50 AM · Succinct as always Rocky: not enough! Ain't that the truth...
June 11, 2019, 5:51 PM · As a kid and i guess i still sort of am, I used to practise about 30 minutes until i was about 10. Then i started practising about 1 hour up until i was 12. Now I practise 2-3 hours per day
June 12, 2019, 3:02 AM · I don't really remember practicing.
But I do remember my teachers loosing hair over me not practicing.
The verdict: did not practice.

Today - when I do not preform - I practice anywhere from 1 hour to 3-4 hours a day. When I preform, It depends on the length of the gig: sometimes it's 3 pieces, sometimes it's 12 hours.

I have to make up for all the 40 years of lost time. Somehow.
=

June 12, 2019, 2:08 PM · Maria wrote, "With piano one can get away with minimal practise but not with violin."

That's true if you just want to buy "easy piano" arrangements of pop pieces and play them for your own enjoyment. But not if you want to play interesting classical music (including chamber music, where very often the pianist has the hardest part). Even accompanying gets hard pretty quickly. The Gavotte by Becker is in book 3. Try playing the piano part and you'll see what I mean.

Edited: June 12, 2019, 4:35 PM · Thank you for raising and discussing this topic. I have been practicing with my son since he started violin 6 months ago. He loves and enjoys the violin. He's also very active and energetic, so the practice can't just be straight with only playing violin like other kids. We have breaks, games in between, which all makes the whole practice to 45-60 min. He has made a good progress and practice somehow becomes his daily routine now. At the certain time of the day, he would pick up the violin and play by himself (of course, that won't last very long). However, whenever I tell someone how much he practices, they stare at me as if I push him too much. Such reactions make me really confused and doubted.
June 12, 2019, 10:07 PM · With my son we do about half an hour piano and half an hour violin. He likes to make games out of everything so it's not necessarily a full focused half hour, but that's fine. He needs to learn to love it as well as learning the discipline. Some teachers don't seem to understand that.

When I was younger I practiced a lot at times. But I generally didn't practice effectively. That's probably more important than the time.

June 13, 2019, 12:44 AM · Paul, yes of course you are right; to really get advanced with piano one has to practise.

However I did find that one could get with minimal practise to a comparable level of Suzuki 4/5, which is in my country the level of a 3rd exam. After that things get hard and impossible if one doesnt practise.

But with violin I think it is quite difficult maybe impossible to get to the same level with minimal practise. And it is because the proper playing position is so difficult.

My hardest piano piece before I quit at the age of 17 is this piece:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xOzWA0d7Pl4

Its a really really beautiful modern piece from a Finnish composer Tauno Marttinen often left in a bit of shadows. I just loved that piece and its something I still remember with warmth.

But after that I was assigned Schuberts 16 german danced and quit before actually learning it.

Edited: June 13, 2019, 8:06 AM · In general, you want to practice regularly. But it is not true that it's "quite difficult maybe impossible" to get to Suzuki 4/5 with minimal practice. You can get there, but sometimes it will take longer.

I know several people who practiced erratically and minimally and still made it to a decent Mozart concerto level or beyond. They had a good teacher who set them up well during the early years.

For example, one child started at age 5, practiced 30 minutes on alternating days, and reached Suzuki Book 4 in 3.5 years. They increased practicing to 60 minutes, 3 days a week at age 12, and had worked on a couple Romantic concertos by the end of high school. Another child started at age 7 with 30-40 minutes at 3 or 4 times a week, with no parental supervision, and made it to Suzuki Book 4/5 by age 9; increased practicing significantly at age 11 and went even further. These children had the parents in the first example in OP's post.

Would more practicing have helped? Of course. And it depends on the people and situation. Some children are more internally motivated, others need more guidance. Then there's knowing how to practice and how to do so efficiently, which some people figure out earlier than others. I do think there is some flexibility before age 10, and it's necessary to be set up correctly in technique with your teacher.

Edited: June 13, 2019, 12:47 PM · Frieda, it depends what one calls minimal practise.

But sure, some children can advance with less practise than others :) It is unfortunately not known what would those 2 kids had become had they practised daily for 60 minutes

Edited: June 14, 2019, 7:37 AM · What do you consider "minimal" practice? I thought those examples are in the range of what is considered probably a "waste" of time according to posts above.

Hard to say what those kids would do with 60 minutes daily. They could have become better. But they also could have quit sooner if forced to practice more. One of those children became a professional pianist. There would be a tradeoff in practice time on the violin versus on the piano or schoolwork. The others became doctors and PhDs (there were more examples than those two). I'm not sure what kind of difference an increase to 60 minutes a day would make, except maybe they would have ended their high school years playing Vieuxtemps instead of Mendelssohn.

Edited: June 14, 2019, 12:31 AM · My answer to the OP is like Rocky's, "not enough"! :-)

That said, my dad taught piano master classes for 33 years and I learned two things from his experience:

1. Practice does not make perfect, if you keep repeating the same errors.
2. Practicing longer than your attention span is useless. If yours is 20 minutes before your mind starts wandering, practice 20 minutes, take a break, and resume.


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