Do you know what … a couple of years ago I would have said no. I went to a posh music college … we practised for 6 hours plus a day. My music making was all very serious, classical and stuck-to-the notes with no notion of improvisation or just playing for fun (god forbid!). But things have changed for me in the past few years. I think it was maybe my work in music therapy that changed my view. We are ALL musical. We are made of music! Out heart beats to a rhythm, we walk to a rhythm … this is music! It's part of who we are. Nearly all of us will listen to music everyday … it's made to be enjoyed!
So I guess my teaching style has evolved to reflect that. Music is FUN!
We generally start our lessons with a fun game that will teach a musical concept. We have time to improvise, learn how chords work so we can start writing our own songs, work on some piano technique, do some rhythm work … all of this before we look at any pieces we may be working on. So if the adult/child doesn't have time to practise, that's fine! We have loads to do! We all have very busy lives … there's so much to cram in and music shouldn't add stress to our lives. It's to be enjoyed!
If you or your child want to take exams or make fast progress, that's a slightly different thing. Practise is definitely necessary then to get to a point where you/they are confident and able to pass an exam (for the pre-grade 1 grades that would be 10-15 minutes 5 times a week, then 20-30 minutes 5 times a week for grade 1, and then generally adding 10 minutes a day per grade (obviously the quality of the practise is more important than the quantity … that's another blog post!). But you should only do an exam if you really want to do it and have the time to dedicate yourself/your child to it. Generally choosing the same practise time everyday is really helpful … maybe in the morning before work or school? Exams can be great for motivation and some people like to have the certificate to see the progress they're making. But it is not the only way!
Of course, I'm not discouraging practising! It can be a wonderful way to unwind from a stressful day and get lost in something else. And yes, of course sometimes children need to be encouraged to do things they don't want to do sometimes and then they realise it's fun! And also some kids don't practise because they don't enjoy playing. Then please do stop lessons and find something else that floats their boat! I really don't believe music learning should be forced. Music is for everyone and it's meant to be fun!