Instead of saying that 30 minutes of practice is enough regardless of what is achieved, try saying, “Today the goal of practicing is to play the first eight measures of your piece without any mistakes.” Whether reaching this goal takes 29.99 or 40 minutes isn’t important. What is important is that the child knows the musical goal of each daily practice session and feels motivated to be as efficient as possible while practicing in order to reach that goal and feel that sense of accomplishment. If the goal is playing the first eight measures on Monday, the logical goal for Tuesday is to play the next eight. Pretty soon, the child will acknowledge the cumulative goal of the week: to play the entire piece free of mistakes. This leads to more motivation, more effort during practice and most importantly, pride in what they have accomplished.
Although this method achieves more success, it also requires more effort by the parents; it’s easy to look at the clock and monitor 30 minutes, but goal-related practicing means setting daily goals for your children, difficulty your child experiences with his music and setting new, more demanding goals.
First, divide the week’s goal or teacher’s expectations into seven equal parts and make sure your child understands each one. On some days, your child might choose to work toward two days’ worth of goals, in which case, it’s wise to give them the option of skipping the next day’s practice session.
Daily goals should be attended to every day and should involve playing scales or other technique-building skills; advancement on specific pieces can be more spread out, as long as the child continues to move forward with the piece.
While it may be tempting to say “I will practice double tomorrow,” do it today! Do it with goals with motivation and will make everyone’s life a little more enjoyable!