A common question that comes up in learning piano is “how often should I practice?” Some piano teachers answer this question with “you only need to practice on the days that you eat.” (The implication being that you should practice every day). Regular practice is more important than sporadic, lengthy practice. 15 minutes a day for a week will probably be more productive than 2 hours of practice all on the same day.
You just can’t cram piano practice the way that you might have been able to cram for a math test. Playing the piano is both physical and mental. Your body needs time to develop and learn and that usually requires a slow and steady process. In this sense, it’s like training for a marathon. Marathon runners don’t sit on the couch for six days and then run an entire marathon on day seven of each week. They train little by little, slowly improving their endurance and ability.
Focus is diminished in any attempted cramming session. If you practice a piece for four hours without a break, your effectiveness will be undone by your attention span. Be honest with yourself: how long can you really focus on your practice in one straight session? Once you reach the limits of your concentration, it’s time to stop. Extra time is meaningless without extra effort. For this reason, you’ll find that many, short practice sessions are the key to progress. Super practicers even find ways to scatter multiple short sessions throughout each day. Those short sessions guarantee high bursts of concentration.
Lastly, make sure to connect each short practice to your goals. If you’ve created a goal for the week and then divided that into smaller goals, focused practice sessions give you the perfect opportunity to accomplish something with each trip to the piano. Those small goals will also keep you engaged. Practice like a marathoner and you’ll be playing your favorite pieces before you know it.
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