How Long Should I Practice Every Day?

I’ve gotten a few asks about my recommendations for practice times so here’s a lil guide based on my thoughts alone, as well as some tips about practicing.

*NOTE: This was written by me, a brass player. Some things don’t translate across different instruments, so take it all with a grain of salt (especially vocalists!).

30 minutes - you play music as a hobby, and are not concerned with being the best.
1 - 2 hours -  you want to be good enough to contribute to an ensemble’s sound (church, orchestra, etc.) OR you are practicing a secondary instrument.
3 hours - you want to be your best, but don’t have the time.
4 + hours - you want to be your best because you want to perform for your career.

and just general tips that have helped me

  • if you have to keep checking the time to “finish your hour”, your practice isn’t productive. stop and evaluate why.
    • if you have somewhere to be, set an alarm for thirty minutes before you have to leave. That way, you have time to cool down or finish working out that hard lick
  • if you find you aren’t being productive when you practice, make a practice journal and mark the exact amount of time you practice what.
    • I’m talking “12 minutes on Kopprasch Blue book #7; started at 60 bpm ended at 87 bpm″
    • this way you can see exactly how long you practice which pieces, and how it correlates to how well you can play them
  • actually book yourself for practice time, like you would a class or work shift. If you don’t, you may keep putting it off until you miss it for the day.
  • have a practice buddy. Similar to a gym friend, a practice buddy keeps you accountable, and tends to make it easier not to slack off while you work
  • if possible, shut your phone off/keep it on the opposite side of the room while you are practicing. it’s so easy to get distracted, and you would be surprised about how much time you can waste between etudes
    • a practice journal can also be beneficial here: you spent three and a half hours in the practice room, but you’ve only recorded two hours and forty seven minutes of practice?
  • can’t sit and practice for hours on end? split it up. do two hours in the morning, one after lunch, and three before you go to bed.

There’s a million more practicing tips, but I tried to keep mine all time related. And remember, just because these work for me, doesn’t mean they work for everyone! 

Also, don’t forget - your health always has to come first. It’s okay to miss a practice session or cut back on time if you aren’t feeling well, whether it’s sickness or stiff fingers. Don’t exacerbate the problem.

Feel free to keep sending asks if I missed your question. Your band director, fellow music friends, and private instructor are also good sources.

- Coco