This is such an important question. In my opinion, practicing an instrument should be given the same attention that you give to studying any subject that you take in school. When you have good study habits, you get better grades. The same concept is true for practicing. When you have good practicing habits, you become a better musician. Below are the 2 suggestions that I always make to my students:
- Only practice on the days that you eat.
- Your at home daily practice sessions should last as long as your weekly lesson.
The first suggestion may sound a bit harsh, and any reasonable teacher knows that there are just going to be some days when you’re not going to be able to practice. I do not advocate starving yourself or your child in the name of music. The reason that I use this particular wording is to make sure that I set the expectation for my students that sustained progress can not be achieved without consistent practice. Even the most gifted musicians among us have to put in the hard work.
If your weekly lesson is 30 minutes, then you should practice daily for 30 minutes. If your lessons last for an hour, then your at-home practice sessions need to last for an hour. This is a general rule that works well for most students. If you have aspirations of becoming a world-renowned concert musician, then you’re going to have to practice a whole lot longer than an hour on most days. If this applies to you, then you should speak to your teacher in more detail so that he/she can make recommendations for keeping your body healthy and injury free during rigorous practice.