The amount of progress that a student will make during the course of their lessons depends on a large number of variable factors, and so no one progress chart can accurately show every individual pupils progress exactly. It is recommended that parents consult with their piano teacher regularly regarding their own child's progress.
The following chart can however act as a guide to give parents some idea of the progress the "average" child can be expected to make during their first 5 years of study based on one very important factor - Practice Time. I believe that the amount of progress a student makes in the first 5 years of lessons is very closely linked with the amount of structured practice the student does and I believe that it is fair to say that the more practice a student does, the more progress that student is likely to make.
PRACTICE = PROGRESS
For every minute practiced we make one minutes worth of musical progress.
The more minutes we practice the more progress we will make.
For the moment we will leave the "quality" of practice to one side and just consider the quantity of practice a student does. The below chart shows the amount of minutes students have practiced after 5 years of lessons and therefore offers a good guide to the amount of progress the student can expect to make. The chart shows that after 5 Years students who practice for;
- 60 minutes a day will have practiced for 1825 hours
- 30 minutes a day will have practiced for 912.5 hours
- 20 minutes a day will have practiced for 607.5 hours
- 10 minutes a day will have practiced for 304 hours
- 5 minutes a day will have practiced for 152 hours
- 5 minutes per day only 2 or 3 days per week will have practiced for only 65 hours
As you can see there is a very large difference in the amount of practice time these students do in a 5 year period and therefore there is a very large difference in the amount of progress we can expect these students to achieve.
The student who practices for 5 minutes a day just a few times a week will have done only 65 hours of practice in 5 years!
Taking into consideration the large vacation time these students often expect from practice, these students may actually practice for less than 30 hours in 5 years! Many students are practicing for over 2 hours a day, after 5 years of study, which increases the total number of hours practiced by the most motivated students significantly, bringing the total amount of practice time they may have done to 3000 hours or more.
If you only practice for 30 hours over a 5 year period - don't expect to make as much progress as other music students. Other students have done 1800 to 3000 hours practice, or more, in the same time!
This is not lack of talent - this is lack of application. When assessing the amount of progress your child is likely to make based on the above chart it is important to keep in mind the following points.
It is not unusual for a students in their first 5 years of study to practice for 30 to 60 minutes, or more, each day.
Many pupils, especially those who have lessons at school, only have lessons for around 30 weeks per year. If the student does not practice during the holidays this should be taken into consideration when assessing their position on the chart, i.e. no practice in the holidays means you should approximately half the amount of progress for each bar. Assuming this, these students may only actually practice for around 30 hours or less in 5 years!
Daily practice is essential. Little benefit is to be gained by practicing for 2 hours on Sunday only to neglect practice for the rest of the week.
This may further be summarized by saying the following;
The pupil who practices for 5 minutes per day would take around 50 years to make the same progress as that made in 5 years by someone practicing for 60 minutes per day. (Those practicing for 5 minutes per day only 2 or 3 days per week would take over 90 Years!!).
Please also remember that pupils who consistently practice below the teachers recommended practice times are much less likely to be considered for public performing opportunities or examination entry than those who follow recommended practice guidelines.
The "10,000 hour rule" states that it is necessary to spend 10,000 hours of concentrated study in order to become a "master" in any particular field. This is equally true when looking at the amount of time required to become a "master" musician.
Many students have already completed 10,000 hours of practice before entering the best Music Colleges and Universities at the age of 18. This equates to 20 hours of practice per week over a 10 year period. Obviously there are not many beginner piano players who practice for 20 hours per week but this is balanced out by long hours of practice in their mid to late teen years.
Personally by the time I starting my studies at Leeds College of Music, at the age of 18, I had already practiced well over 10,000 hours.