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Hi - Do any of you or did any of you ever practice 3 or more hours a day of at the piano practice? If yes, how did you get to that point?

I'm curious as to where the ability to have long useful practice sessions comes from? I know this can vary greatly but even if you have the time in the day to do this I still feel like having a total practice time of 3 or more hours would still be very challenging.

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Sebs
I have done it before: when I restarted piano as an adult, I was practicing 3+ hrs per day. It was killing me, as I had a very demanding job as well. I realized there had to be a better way, so I threw myself in reading everything I could find about efficient practice. It was an eye opener! And I was able to significantly reduce my practice time while getting a lot accomplished

Now, I only do that craziness when I go to adult piano camp: one hr lesson, about three hrs of practice (split into segments) and playing for the group in the evenings. But then, I have no chores, no job, no concerns except just a piano. One week per year is enough madness!


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When I started playing I committed myself to do 1 hour everyday. For the first 2 or 3 months I would do that hour, at some point though, not sure when I suddenly started practicing for 2 hours each day. I didn't set aside the time for it, I just enjoyed playing so much I guess I forgot to check the time!

Now, about 7 months in I'm still consistently practicing 2 hours each day but I only commit myself to the original hour, if I'm enjoying my time I keep going. If I'm too tired I stop and go to bed. It's not productive if I'm too tired or don't enjoying playing anymore. Occasionally, very occasionally, on the weekends when I don't work I will practice about 3 hours but it is done in separate sessions. 3 hours is a lot of time specially in one chunk.

I also do my practice at the end of my day when I've completed the rest of my tasks. I've heard it's efficient to study/practice things at the end of the day right before bed as it can be stored sooner and remembered better. I've never checked up on if this is actually true but it's working for me!

Last edited by Emily2Lame; 05/06/21 03:31 PM.
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Originally Posted by Sebs
Hi - Do any of you or did any of you ever practice 3 or more hours a day of at the piano practice?
I did five hours or more quite often when I was a student and in boarding school: I was restricted to about 2 1/2 hours a day during school days, but on Saturdays I could stay in the practice rooms all day except for meal times, so I often did. (The music department was closed on Sundays.)

These days, I play anything from one to five hours a day, depending on my work (obviously, I did very little practicing during the worst periods of the pandemic). But before the current madness, in the days leading up to my monthly recitals, I'd be practicing almost all of my non-working, non-eating, non-sleeping, non-running time, then taking a day off after the recital just to tickle the ivories for fun, without actually practicing.
(I don't count playing purely for fun - where anything and everything goes - as 'practicing'. And I'm pretty adept at playing just for fun cool.)


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Thanks for replies and if you can add... What do you think got you to be able to practice that much? I know joy and passion but did you have be disciplined and plan very well?

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Originally Posted by Sebs
Thanks for replies and if you can add... What do you think got you to be able to practice that much? I know joy and passion but did you have be disciplined and plan very well?

Not a direct answer to your question, but:

Equally important as how much time you practice is how efficiently you practice. Some may be able to sit at the piano for a couple of hours just running through the same piece from beginning to end; that is not efficient practice. What might be accomplished in that amount of time could probably be better accomplished in one hour of attentive, thoughtful, focused practice.

Too much practicing can be counter-productive, if you start losing concentration and start to become careless in your playing. However much time you practice, do it as efficiently as you can and take breaks. Even if you have the stamina to sit at the piano for two hours or more, a periodic break of five or ten minutes will help refresh you physically and mentally so that you return refreshed and, in the long run, with the stamina to go longer.

Much of how much time we spend also has to do in part with the repertoire we have to work on. A beginner or someone just beyond beginning level certainly won't have enough material to keep the mind alert for hours on end. On the other hand, a more advanced pianist with considerable repertoire in the practice schedule may find stimulation not only from the demands of the individual pieces but also from the variety that the various pieces provide. Some may add time for technical exercises as well.

Judge your practice time by the time it takes to fulfill your daily musical and technical needs, balanced by your mental attention span and your physical comfort.

Regards,


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I dont measure the time i practice, but usually it is more than 3 hours. I just set a daily goal of study and of progres for the pieces im working, and when it is done, im done. If i also want to practice some theory and ear trainning, and sight reading, the whole day is not enough

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My practice sessions would easily be three hours if I actually did everything that I feel I’m supposed to be doing, LOL. 😂


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Originally Posted by Sebs
What do you think got you to be able to practice that much? I know joy and passion but did you have be disciplined and plan very well?
Nope, no plan at all for me.

All my teachers wrote in a notebook what they wanted me to practice and/or accomplish by the next lesson, so I took that as my 'guideline', when I was a student. They all knew of course that I couldn't just practice whenever I wanted, as I didn't have an instrument I could call my own (though there was a favorite piano that I deemed as 'mine' and was annoyed if someone else beat me to it..... whistle).

As for now, with my own piano, but no teacher, what drives me is the urge to master pieces that I wanted to learn properly, so that I can present them in the best light to my audiences......because I want them to love, or at least, enjoy, the music as much as I do. Again, no discipline involved - and most definitely, no plan (I've never made a timetable or plan for anything I do): I know what I need to practice (the tricky bits with technical or memory problems to solve, for example), and I do it, so that the whole thing eventually comes together to my satisfaction. And I never set myself a time period (weeks or months, or even years) for when I want the piece(s) to be at performance standard: it takes as long as it takes.


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It's not really about how many hours you practice but how efficient your practice is. Before starting a practice session you need to have specific goals to achieve and use various techniques to achieve those goals. Never just aimlessly play through and hope it gets better.

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My practice is limited by time, I only consistently have time to practice before 6 am so it really depends on how early I can get up. I'm probably averaging an hour a day on the weekdays. On the weekends, I can go for about 3 hours in the morning since I don't have to go to work. If I'm lucky to be home all weekend, I'll probably sneak in another 30 minutes of random practice throughout the day.

I was never able to practice for so long in my youth (I restarted in my 50s after a 30+ year hiatus), but that darned YouTube has introduced me to so many pieces I want to learn, and sheet music is so easy to get online, that I have far more pieces on my tablet than I could ever learn. I've limited it to about 20 pieces to work on at any given time, so it just takes that long to work through each piece a few times. I also do about 30 minutes of Hanon/Czerny/scales whenever I have a 2+ hour block to practice.

I also have trouble sleeping most nights, so energy is an issue. I simply run out of gas later in the day, hence I do most of my practice in the mornings. I wish I could play more after work, but when my energy levels are low, it's hard for me to play.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 05/06/21 04:58 PM.

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I practice around 30 to 120 minutes almost every day. I keep a journal of my time. I take a lot of breaks - can't focus more than 20 minutes or so at a time so 120 minutes of playing will take me several hours because I get involved in something else in the meantime. I need to take a couple days off. Haven't missed a day totally since I got my piano two weeks ago. I find the struggles I had before the days off are improved after a day or so off. I'm retired so I have the time.


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Back in my music school days (upright bass), I was expected to practice at least 3 hours a day. I did pretty well for a while ... until my RSI issues. My main motivation at that time was, unfortunately, extrinsic (grades, professor expectations, looming recitals, etc.).

These days, when things are going well, I manage 2 hours a day on piano pretty regularly. That's been a bit off the last few months thanks to some minor but annoying health issues, but those are resolving, and I'm getting back there. To get to that point, I start with lots of intrinsic motivation: interest in playing, finding some personal goals to meet, watching and listening to good pianists, etc. Then I supplement that with discipline (also intrinsic) when needed. After a while, it just becomes habit, especially when I can work it into my daily schedule in the right way. To summarize:

- Start with motivation ("I want to practice.")
- Supplement that with discipline ("I don't want to practice, but I'm going to anyway.")
- Work at that until it becomes habit ("Hey, look at the clock, it's time to practice.")

Good luck!


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To practice on a tricky part of a piece is really difficult so needs a fresh mind. To learn music to high level is also difficult. Often I just play a little bit and after a while it gets boring and I try again tomorrow I only have 2-3 pieces at a time so I would not be someone who practices this long ever. I often get to walls that seem insurmountable but I normally if I am patient enough I can do it. If you are too persistent and type A personality you can get frustrated.Rather than trying to break walls slowly you can go through them if slowly take away the bricks and you can step over them or find tricks and hole. It can often take months. Also you develop a good sense of a piece that is really going to be hard to learn and I have been a bit better at picking pieces not too complicated. I dont get stuck anymore by picking too hard pieces. I do get bored of practicing pieces so I also spend a lot of time is doing random things. I do have quite good ability to just pick up random scores and play sections of them. Even when I was a child I used to try lots of pieces. I have a few books where I wrote the names of all the letters under all the notes, which is what I used to have to do when I was first learning and couldnt read notes well, so perhaps not the most efficient learning method but more enjoyable. Probably a nice mix of some intense work and a lot of fun stuff is best way to progress.

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Depending on the pieces I'm working on. Always good to start your practice session with a 10 min. warmup. Play something slow to get a feel of your fingers. It's not always easy to find 3h in a day but the pandemic lockdown gave me more time to practice. Try to take a break every half-hour. Space repetition learning is more effective than practicing for 3h straight.

The piece I'm working on has a slow tempo but rather advanced with 3 pages. The best I can hope for is to learn a page a week and give an extra week for both hands to play at sync. Progress is slow but incremental. You learn a little bit of a piece each session until you can play a section from top to bottom without hesitation. Some people would find the endless repetition frustrating. Seeing a piece come together is what keeps me going.

The way to practice is to break the piece into digestible sections. Limit yourself to perfecting small bits and don't be tempted to play from the beginning to the end until you learned each bar properly.

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Physically I can practice 4 hours a day (or more) but I do not go longer than 40 minutes at a time. I step away from the keyboard to review what I'm doing and give the old noodle a break.

Mentally & emotionally practicing 4 hours a day can make me feel the rest of my life is slipping away. I want a life! Due to that I set my timer for 3 hours and go over it if and only if I am having an exceptionally fantastic practice day.

As to how to do it? Just practice in 20-40 minute sessions until you can manage a cumulative 4 hours a day. Like everything else in piano, ramp up slowly. Say add 10minutes to your daily practice and after a week or two add another 10 per day. Do this for 3 months and you'll feel comfortable practicing 3 hours a day, maybe even 4. It just takes, ummm, practice.


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For comparison, it would be necessary to look at the routine of training on other instruments. For example, for violinists the minimum time for technical training plus work on pieces is 3 hours a day. Playing only 2 hours a day is good enough to keep the touch with instrument. In fact, the violinist's professional biography resembles a voluntarily chosen regime of hard labor.
However, periodic very focused work can result in 4 hours in a row without looking at the clock.

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OP:

As others have noted above, be careful not to assume that three hours of practice will give you better progress than two. It’s ultimately about building pathways in the brain which happens overnight, so sleeping well is important.

The benefits of practice decrease at certain point — which varies for each of us and varies to some extent with each day. Experiment and find what works for you.

For me on average it’s two sessions a day. Excluding warmups etc. it comes down to around four blocks of twenty minutes of focused practice.

However I always have a few not-so-good days a month which I don’t worry about.

You’re climbing a mountain, you can’t run up it.

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There is no need to overwork a piece. Some practice sessions I'd limit myself to playing just 1 bar or a line until I get good at playing that little bit. I do have the Hanon book but only occasionally use it for warmup. I usually have another piece I already worked on at a slow tempo to start. The last piece I worked on was John Lennon "Imagine" for my warmup.

Technical pieces you can have some easy sections and some more challenging bits. Practice a section a few times and isolate the parts that give you trouble. No reason to keep repeating the easy sections.

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I do three hours a day but spread out into different sessions. I have the time to do this though. No way I could do three hours in one go

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