1. Practicing every day for short periods is much more effective than practicing for longer, less frequent periods of time. Ideally, students should practice at least 5-10 minutes every day. Think of it as replacing one social media session with one music practice session. For some students, a timer helps them to stay focused and achieve a more focused practice session.
2. Practicing at the same time every day is the best way to create a habit. Stay open-minded about this and allow students to practice with their circadian rhythms, e.g. early in the morning or later at night.
3. If setting a time limit doesn’t work, set a goal. For example, rather than saying “I’m going to practice for ten minutes,” students can say, “I’m going to practice until I can play this section without one mistake.” So the length of the session will depend on how focused they are, and they’ll accomplish something tangible after every practice.
4. Music practice quality is more important than quantity. Rather than playing a whole song over and over, students should focus on resolving individual issues they’re having within the piece. Which leads to our next point…
5. Breaking a piece down makes practice more effective. Teachers should help students isolate a song into separate parts. For example, they can play a small section several times, practice just where their hands need to change positions on the keys, or play one hand at a time. When they’re ready, they can put the song back together.
6. Going slow makes progress fast. If a student thinks they’re playing too slow, they should play even slower! This will help them focus on different aspects such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, etc., and accelerate their overall progress. A slow tempo will also reduce mistakes.
7. If your students are young, be with them during practice. You can provide the support, encouragement, and inspiration they need to keep at it. Say, “Show me what you’re learning, and show me what you need to work on more.” Help them to understand why they’re practicing.
8. Active listening with your kid develops a love of music. Listen to music together at home and in the car. Talk about the lyrics, the arrangement, the parts you like or don’t like–whatever comes to mind! This will develop your child’s ear and get them to think more actively about what they’re listening to. Don’t forget to listen actively to film music – or background music in an elevator or mall. Even birds have a wonderful musicality in their singing.