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The Effect of Daily Practice Time

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Charles Krigbaum said: Dec 9, 2014
Charles KrigbaumTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
69 posts

Hello Suzuki Community,

I’m searching for a pdf of a graph/chart that shows the impact that daily practice time has on progress through the Suzuki repertoire. I’m not sure who the original author is, and I’d really like to know that as well. The graph has two axis lines: Suzuki Book Finished, and Years of Playing. It illustrates the startling difference between those who “practice a few times a week” and those that practice “everyday”. I’ve lost the pdf I had of this, and I would like to have a replacement.

Can you assist me?

Thank you!!

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Lori Bolt said: Dec 10, 2014
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

I can’t help but would be interested in viewing the chart when someone posts it.

Lori Bolt

Leslie Brown Katz said: Dec 10, 2014
Leslie Brown Katz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
8 posts

I have it—but the pdf is not loading…
I will try again soon.
My students are in the middle of a “Holiday-Practice-a-thon”
Since it is a challenge to put yet another concert/party or event into these weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years, I’m letting them discover just how much can get done with 5 minutes of Focus tucked in at random times of the day. The more “Focus Moments” they do, the bigger the payoff!

Leslie Brown Katz said: Dec 10, 2014
Leslie Brown Katz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
8 posts

You can email me, and I will send it as an attachment.

Katherine said: Dec 10, 2014
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
75 posts

There is a link to this chart in this thread:

https://suzukiassociation.org/discuss/6141/

Alan Duncan said: Dec 10, 2014
Alan Duncan
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
60 posts

The link to the previous thread is perfect. The legend on the color chart was truncated on my computer; so I reformatted the chart and attached it here as png image file.

Practice Vs Books Completed

Practice Vs Books Completed

Image by Alan Duncan

I suspect that the relationship in the real world isn’t quite as linear as this chart would convey; and there’s probably an effect of age on this effect. Children who start at 3 years of age, for example, probably can’t physically sustain 2 hours of practice a day.

Practice Vs Books Completed

G said: Dec 11, 2014
G Ordun
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Vienna, VA
21 posts

While I’m not so silly as to think actual time spent at the piano is unimportant: So much has been realized about attention … I’d hate for my students to think all they need to do is plunk themselves down and bang away for 2 hours.

I’m wondering if this kind of chart could be counter-productive in that way.

Also, wondering how to introduce this “Five Minutes of Focus” to my piano students … sounds perfect for the season.

FWIW,
g

Alan Duncan said: Dec 11, 2014
Alan Duncan
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
60 posts

There are definitely other factors involved.

I just had an email exchange with a professor at the University of New South Wales yesterday who has studied the influence of identity in musical advancement. Students who saw themselves as embarking on a long-term process showed a linear increase in performance ability with the amount of practice they put in. On the other hand, students with low identification with music (”I’ll probably play until middle school…”) showed no substantial improvement in ability as a function of practice volume. His conclusion was that the student’s self-perception and identification as a musician was critical in reaping the benefits of practice.

It makes intuitive sense, of course. The more you see something as part of your identity, the more you’ll invest in it. When talking with other parents, I’ve always introduced my daughter as a violinist rather than saying that she plays the violin for this reason. Being something is a lot harder to give up than doing something.

Katherine said: Dec 11, 2014
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
75 posts

The identity issue is interesting. In my experience kids with the “long term” identity practice more, and more regularly than kids who have a less committed attitude.

I find this chart a little problematic for a few reasons but mostly b/c I think most Suzuki teachers like to de-emphasize a definition of progress as being “what piece are you on”.

At the same time, it is for students and parents, one easy, straightforward measure. And teachers I am sure see a general relationship between practice time and forward movement through the repertoire, which is certainly a goal.

Also, in my limited experience anyway, Book I takes the longest for most students, regardless of practice time invested. So I think I would prefer to see that taken into account in the graph. I think otherwise presenting this to parents and students who have been working hard and regularly on Book I for over a year, or 2 years, might be discouraged. Maybe a pre-twinkle period should be shown on the graph.

Anne Marie said: Dec 11, 2014
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Troy, NY
12 posts

Alan, thank you so much for your chart. I’m interested in knowing more about the studies of musical identity by your New South Wales professor.

If she or he is interested in sharing further findings, I would love to know more. As you pointed out, our students’ self-image is a key component to their learning and their engagement.

Thank you

Caitlin said: Dec 11, 2014
Caitlin HunsuckViolin
Merced, CA
41 posts

I think this chart is a good way for parents to see how much “long-run” time they are wasting/using by doing daily pratice. For example, I have two kids that started at the same time 3 years ago, one was 3, the other 5. The 3 year-old praticed every day (it has built up to a little over an hour), took forever to take little steps… and then at one point it clicked and he just took off! He is now in Volume 4. On the other hand, the 5 year-old pre-twinkled well, practiced well, and then kinda stopped practicing consistantly (I would say orange line) and is now on Minuet 2. So there is a velocity thing, and an age thing, but overall I think it does give an idea that practice and progress are correlated… in the “short-run” things are different.

Alan Duncan said: Dec 11, 2014
Alan Duncan
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
60 posts

I’m a Suzuki parent and musician, not a teacher—so feel free to take whatever I say with a “grain of salt.”

Ann Marie—The paper published about 2 years ago looked at the relative effects of practice volume and identification with music as a long-term proposition. Those variables were correlated with performance ability according to a standardized scale. The subjects in the study were elementary school students.

Students were stratified by commitment; with low identification (those who saw themselves as continuing music only through elementary school.), high identification (beyond high school), and moderate identification (everything in between.)

Among students with high identification there was a “dose-reponse” effect of practice. More practice, higher level of technical ability. Among those with low identification, there was no observable effect of practice volume. The moderate identification results, were somewhere in between.

The “take-home” message seems to be that practice interacts with other variables, among them, the degree to which students see themselves playing their instrument long-term. Undoubtedly, attention (as others have pointed out) and other factors interact.

The chart referenced above (it’s not mine—I just reformatted it so that the legend displays in full) could certainly be misleading. Progress, however it’s defined, is definitely not linear; and although others note that it jives with their own observations about the effect of practice on progress, I’m not even sure whether this is based on evidence in any formal sense.

To some extent, it’s practically unavoidable for parents to do some benchmarking since early-on they’re chiefly responsible for setting things up at home for the best possible experience. It’s natural to wonder: “How am I doing?” I would never share this with my daughter, though, because as Katherine mentions above it might create unreasonable expectations and misperceptions about what it means to progress. We’ve learned to temper our own enthusiasm and talk about mastery of specific abilities and so forth with her. The art is long, right?

Anne Marie said: Dec 11, 2014
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Troy, NY
12 posts

Alan,

I’m relatively new to teaching. It seemed to me, when I started this year, that I should ask both parents and students what their own goals are.

The parent goals were mostly along the lines of “develop a life-long love of music.” I can see that each time the student masters a new technique or a new piece of music, there is so much pride and excitement….

So, yes, the art is long…. I hope the art is life-long!

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