It’s not how long you practice. It’s how you practice. Remember that you must be your own problem solver. My goal as your teacher is to give you the critical thinking tools you need to fix any technical or musical problems you encounter during your personal practice.
But how long should I practice?
That depends on your goals. Someone who wants to play the cello purely for personal enjoyment, or even community enjoyment, will not need to practice as much as someone who wants to play professionally.
A half hour is a good start for anyone who is asking this question. If you can make a half hour ever day a habit, you can certainly bump it up to an hour very soon. But a half hour of really focused, productive practice is still better than two hours of playing through songs repeatedly. Be mindful of your time at the cello.
I’m bored with my songs!
Don’t let yourself get bored. If you find yourself getting tired of working on something, first figure out why. Are you frustrated that it sounds the same? You can’t fix certain problems? Does the actual song get on your nerves? Maybe you just need a change. We all get tired of working on the same thing for too long. Don’t wait for me to sense your boredness and magically fix it for you (though I am pretty good at sensing that). Get creative and try to play some new things. Look up arrangements of your favorite songs on Google. Make your own arrangements!
Remember this: I am your teacher, not your boss. I am here to help you, not tell you what to do.
What should I practice?
It’s important to warm up so you don’t hurt your hands diving into something that is very difficult. Maybe start with scales. I like to start with double stops. It warms up my bow arm and left hand, and I enjoy the sound so it puts me in a good frame of mind.
Start with one goal in mind. What do you want to get better at in this practice session? What would you like to accomplish? Maybe it’s accurately shifting from 4th finger on the A string in first position to 1st finger in fourth position. Then spend time doing just that until you get more comfortable with it. Use my practice techniques for shifting.
Maybe you want to be able to play through your whole song without stopping. The trick is to keep going even if you make a mistake. Note the mistake in your head as you play through and practice that separately. Metronomes are very useful for knowing when you slow down for a difficult passage. (I know, the truth hurts)
Remember to get up and walk around. Even sitting for just an hour can make your body ache. That’s because our circulation slows down. We want to keep our blood pumping to keep our muscles warm. Every ten minutes or so, get up and stretch, walk, or jump around. Our brains work better when we have good circulation!
It’s also important to remember to drink water during and possibly have a snack before practice. Stay healthy!