Curious about practice time…

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    Madeline Davis

    I was wondering what other harpists might think in terms of practice time for certain goals, particularly compared to other instruments. Here’s one guide from for violin

    How do you think practice time on harp compares? Is it less? Equal? (I doubt it would be typically more, but then perhaps you think otherwise?) Would be interested on hearing other harpists perspectives.


    I think those times look exactly right for the harp as well.


    I only started to learn as an adult so can’t really comment on the times given for children but that 90-120 minutes looks about what I do, with longer sessions on otherwise blissfully empty days. I’m just drooling at the thought of those 5 hours recommended for a college music major; just imagine having 5 hours every day to spare on practice! I’d guess the general rule for practising any instrument would be ‘all the time you can spare – plus a bit you thought you couldn’t’ while bearing in mind that enjoyment should always be the key and once that goes there is no amount of time put in that will make up for it. Better to practise less and love what you’re doing than practise all day and hate every minute.


    Firstly, I think this website is bizarre for telling you how long you should practice “for fun.” Secondly, time is not nearly as important as quality of practice. One hour of focused practice that really gets the job done will always be better than four or five hours of fiddling around. Of course, doing four or five hours of really focused practice would be great, but the majority of people aren’t practicing very efficiently, and I imagine this website has this in mind when recommending those times.

    The drive to practice has to come from within. As Lyn says, practice during “all the time you can spare” or maybe even “all the time you care to spare.” If you really want to play professionally, you’ll probably want to practice long hours maybe similar to those suggested by this website. But if you have to force yourself to practice with much frequency, then maybe you should give some thought to whether or not you’d actually enjoy playing when it’s your job and you depend on it.

    Gretchen Cover


    I think your comments are right on target. Practicing efficiently to me is key. You may get more done in 15 minutes than a couple hours. You need to design your own practice system to fit your learning style and time you have available.

    I know one musician who does best working instensely on pieces for great lengths of time just before performing. I cannot do that. I do better if I start work on a piece six months before I am to play, put it away after working on it for a month or two, and then pick it up a month before playing. Therefore, I work on Christmas pieces in July and August and then again before I am to play in December. I play at a local church regularly so I try to get the schedule in advance of when I am to play. I make sure to keep a few extra pieces practiced or have something easy to play in case something comes up last minute.

    I will practice until I either physically or mentally can’t do it. It might be a few minutes or a few hours. But I find I need to quit when I get sloppy or I just ruin whatever gains I made in working on a piece.

    Madeline Davis

    I did find it odd that it gave specific times for “fun” practice time, though I think part of that is the assumption that you still want to really progress and advance in your technique and all, you just aren’t planning on doing it for a living. I totally agree with the practicing efficiently, though nothing can really substitute the time when it comes to some things it seems. Appreciate hearing from you all, that was exactly why I started the post.


    Gretchen and Sam- I agree with both of you that time is not the only consideration when practicing. If it is not focused, or if the practice techniques are flawed, you may as well not practice at all. I remember a friend of mine telling me years ago that there was a pianist in the apartment above him who was preparing a recital. For 8 months he practiced 4 or 5 hours a day, and made the same mistakes in the same places in the same pieces for 8 months, never figuring out how to fix them! So poor practice techniques will result in poor results.

    People come to music with different abilities and strengths, and so everyone’s practice techniques will vary somewhat. Gretchen, your friend who practices enormous amounts of time just before a performance is displaying a classic symptom of Attention Deficit Disorder. But if that works for him, then what the heck.

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