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Practice Every Day that You Eat

concert-814336_1920Many years ago, when I had just started playing the violin, my teacher told me and my classmates that we didn’t have to practice every day, just every day that we ate.

Well, I have to admit that even as a professional musician I do not manage to practice every day that I eat, but I can assure you that you are better off practicing more days of the week, even if you can’t fit in a long practice.

Sometimes we think that a bit marathon practice session is the way to go when learning an instrument. One of the most common questions that I am asked is “How long should my child practice.” How long is not usually the issue. The issue is how often.

Every time that you practice, you reinforce both your understanding of what it is that you need to do and also the physicality of playing the instrument. Here are 4 advantages of practicing often for shorter amounts of time:

  1. You remember what it is that you are supposed to be working on. The longer you wait in between sessions, the more likely you are to forget.
  2. Your body remembers how to accomplish the task. Like your brain, your body remembers better when you do something more often.
  3. You are at your best mentally. If you practice for too long at a time, you will lose focus, start playing in a sloppy manner, and start reinforcing bad habits.
  4. You are at your best physically. If you do a long practice session once a week instead of 5 shorter sessions, you will become physically tired, and start taking short cuts. This leads, yet again, to reinforcing bad habits.

So, how often should you practice? Ideally every day that you eat, but I tell my students to aim for 5 days a week. This allows you a bit of time off, but keeps you practicing on a regular basis.

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