All students in the Core Curriculum ages 4-6 are expected to practice at least 15 minutes daily, and students ages 7-12 are expected to practice at least 30 minutes daily. Adult beginners should commit to 60 minutes daily if possible. If a student misses any day of practice for whatever reason, the practice time for the remaining days of the week must be increased to make up for it. It is suggested that the practice time be organized as follows:
Warm-ups: Play the assigned warm up exercises every day. These usually require the metronome and often require repetition. They may require repetition at different speeds and dynamics. (2-5 min.)
Recitation Drills: The student should recite anything they are required to know from memory: sentences for lines & spaces, order of sharps & flats etc. Parents are strongly encouraged to help with this portion of practice time. (1-2 min.)
Old Technique: The student should play all technique exercises already learned but not yet checked off, as directed by the instructor. This may include repetition at different tempos or different dynamics, and almost always requires the metronome. Some technique exercises may be required daily and some may be placed on an alternating or weekly schedule. The goal for all technique exercises is that they must be performed perfectly if tested in the lesson, so the student must always be prepared for such a possibility. (5-10 min.)
Lesson Songs and New Technique Exercises: If the student is learning a new song, each day will be different regarding practice steps. Follow the directions as given by the instructor exactly. By the 5th day, the student very likely will be able to skip the initial steps and play the song directly. If the student can play all the assigned pieces without mistake on the first try, then no additional practice is needed on the lesson songs for that day. If a song is reassigned for improvement, follow the teacher’s directions regarding what to improve. Fix the mistakes as marked, and incorporate the musical aspects which were overlooked the first week. (10-15 min.)
Theory: The theory homework must be done at some time during the week, and usually the best time is soon after the lesson because the student is less likely to forget the instructions and lesson topic. If the theory homework includes musical examples which must be practiced, play them daily until they are mastered. Theory homework does not count toward practice time, not even the playing examples.
Performance: 1) Memory Pieces should be played once daily, or every other day and it is important that they are played perfectly the first time. Follow the teacher’s directions regarding fixing memory errors, or suggestions for improvement. Some pieces may be placed on “long term memory check” which means they should be played only once a week and possibly only at the lesson. 2) New Pieces may take more than one week to learn, but the student should undertake this task with minimal guidance from the teacher (or parent). 3) Old Pieces which are not yet perfected, and are not memorized must be practiced as directed by the teacher to make perfect. The directions will be very specific regarding drill spots, ways to approach the music, technical issues, and musical issues. At all times, the student should practice performance pieces with the intent to memorize even if the teacher does not request it. (10-15 min.)