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How Much "Should" You Practice? Practice & Learning!

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

.. And the 4 kinds of practice and 4 kinds of learning.

I get asked a lot how much should my daughter/son practice? OR by students, How much should I practice?

The first things I say is there is no "should"... Every person is unique and so is their reason for practicing.

Secondly I share about it is HOW you practice... and WHAT you practice and WHAT you are learning really matters most!

1 hour? 2 hours? 3 hours? 4 hours ??? How much is enough? What is too much? Is there an optimal number of hours that one should practice?

No, but there are ways for you to design a practice that is meaningful, deliberate, creative and productive for you and your musical goals!

“Practice with your fingers and you need all day. Practice with your mind and you will do as much in 1 - 2 1/2 hours.” ~ Leopold Auer

1. Mindless Practice

Mindless practice is: Repetitive People repeat things numerous times. ex. 10 times with out thought. People practice piece/pieces for ____ number of minutes. (as if only the minutes mattered)

Mindless is on auto pilot (play for a while and stop at something, then start again)

Problems with this kind of practice are: Waste of time as you are practicing your errors, unwanted habits, and the things you don’t want to do. Therefore you are adding more time to your practice in the long run.

“Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.”

What do you want to create and make permanent in your practice and performing?

Boring & Tedious! Mindless practice is when we are not engaged, involved, questioning, learning, passionate, creating and playing. So, we may find it boring and tedious. In mindless practice we do not consciously notice that we are the ones learning and getting better at something as we are not emotionally connected to our practice and the possible outcomes. We do not get excited or happy or encourage ourself. To value yourself and what you do takes being aware of why and what you are doing. This kind of commitment and ownership to how and what you are doing is empowering!

Energizing & Empowering vs. Boring & Tedious Mindless practice makes you less confident. Most people tend to perform with more awareness than we practice with each day. So, our mindless practice makes us a nervous performer and is the opposite of confidence. In mindless practice, a part of you knows that you do not know how to consistently produce the results you really want. Even if you establish a fairly high success rate in the most difficult passages via mindless practice, and find that you can play it as you want it 3 or 4 out of every 5 attempts, your confidence won’t grow much from this.

Real Performance Confidence comes from: Being able to execute what you want 10 out of 10 times. Knowing that this isn’t a coincidence. That you can do it the way you truly want on demand! Most importantly: Because you know precisely why you can play it exactly as you want to or you know exactly why you missed it.

Because you know exactly what you need to do from a technical and musical standpoint in order to play the passage perfectly every time. = performance confidence.

2. Mindful Practice

Deliberate, clear, intentional practice, that is done in small sections or practice chunks. (see by blog on chunking) Repetition has a clear intention that builds upon a strengths and refines musical habits.

Repetition is: to challenge and attain more expertise and higher artistic levels or for that asking questions, creating solutions and trying them out or for listening and looking for deeper understanding and knowing of the music and yourself.

Slows You Down! It takes time to understand something. To consider, discover, engage in, give thought and meaning to your practice and music making. It is an active and thoughtful process where you have to ask questions and come up with the ideas on how to solve the question. THEN, you have have to try it out. AND, then ask did my solution work? HOW? Give yourself feedback on what you did.

Teaching yourself, then repeat the process... Mindfully :-).

Very few musicians take the time to stop and analyze what went wrong, why it happened, and how they can correct the error permanently. Instead they just stop... or just keep going...

3. Spaced Learning/ Practice

People who do all of their practice at one time during the day only retain about 25% of what they are practicing.

People who space out their practice sessions during the day, allowing for integration of what they practiced, learn 57% more this way. For example, three 40 minute practice session as day vs. 2 hours at one time.

4. Deliberate Practice - Anders Ericsson- Peak- New Science of Expertise

How expert one becomes has more to do with how one practices, rather then with merely performing a skill a large number of times.

An expert breaks down the skills that are required to be expert and focuses on improving those skill chunks during practice and is often paired with immediate coaching feedback.

Deliberate practice lies in continually practicing a skill at more challenging levels with the intention of mastering each new level.

A mindful, deliberate practicer learns about 75% more than someone who just plays things through, the average practicer and they retain most of what they learn.

Define Goal - What and How?

Go for it! Play it!

Evaluate Result (be specific and detailed)

Identify Problem (be specific and detailed)

Identify Cause (be specific and detailed)

Create a Solution (be specific and detailed)

Test Solution and repeat step 1-7.

Ways of Learning

Here are 4 ways we learn and intentionally adding them to your practice and learning will increase your retention and lessen the amount of time your need to learn something new.

1. Creative: Explore, question, wonder, create and play with your own and others practice ideas. Retrieval: Retrieving knowledge and skill from memory, self quizzing; see what you remember.

2. Elaboration: is the process of finding additional layers of meaning in new material and making connections with things you know and adding that layer to the new material.

3. Generation: is to attempt to answer a questions or solve a problem before being show or given the answer, teaching yourself.

4. Reflection: is a combination of retrieval and elaboration, that adds layers to learning and strengthens skills.

Happy Mindful, Deliberate, Creative, Elaborative, Generative, Reflective Practice !!!!!!!

💜 ~Jennifer

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