This can be a difficult question to answer, as a lot will depend on your child and how easy they find it to focus when learning something new. But I can offer some advice so you can help decide what will work for you and your child.
Finding the motivation to practice the piano can be difficult for anyone, no matter how old you are. The good news is that children usually practice a lot more than adults do. This may sound hard to believe, but it’s true. The reason for this is that children are in that stage of learning anything and everything they can get their hands on, so getting a child to practice the piano shouldn’t usually be a problem. For adults, practicing is usually harder because a lot of things get in the way. For example, work, family, social events, responsibilities etc. As a piano teacher I often hear my adult students say to me each week that they’ve struggled to find the time to practice.
So that’s the good news! However, there still may be times when your child finds it hard to stay focused, and may refuse to practice altogether for a few days. This is quite common, and nothing to worry about. It’s important to realise that the number one factor to consider when practicing is motivation, and if your child isn’t motivated then the practice session won’t always yield any decent results. It doesn’t mean to say however that you can’t push your child into practicing a little, if you know that they will be able to make it worth their while. But if your child is really not happy at all, then sometimes it’s better not to push them into it, and leave it for a day or so.
Everyone is different, which means that the optimum time for your child to be motivated to practice will differ from one person to the next. So initially it’s all about finding that perfect time that works, and then trying to stick to it. It may be just after school, late at evening, or on weekends that they find the motivation to practice.
This then leads us on to how often your child should practice. Well, as a piano teacher myself I often get lots of feedback from parents on how often they get their child to practice, and they are always worried it may not be enough. Again, it really depends on a lot of factors. The younger the child for example, the easier it may be to get them to practice each day. I usually find that past the age of 13 it gets much harder for them to stay motivated to practice.
I can however offer a minimum suggested practice time for beginners, which should help cover all ages and most levels – which would be 30 minutes per day for 4-5 days per week. This is of course is an absolute minimum, and I really wouldn’t advise going under this if it can be helped. If the practice times do fall under this, then it will just slow down the rate of progress – and let’s face it, everyone wants to progress as quickly as possible when it comes to learning the piano. You’ve heard the saying, ‘practice makes perfect’, and it sums up learning to play the piano exactly. The more you practice, the better you get.
If you have any further concerns, the best person to ask is your piano teacher as they will know exactly what level your child is studying at, and how much practice is typically required at that stage. Your piano teacher can also see their rate of progress from one week to the next, and advise if more practice is needed.