Should music lesson be 30 minutes long? 45 minutes? An hour? Longer? How much time should be dedicated to music lessons if you want to master the art? In reality, the length of music lessons, regardless of the instrument, will depend on a variety of factors. And even when all is considered, you may still find that both students and teachers will decide the length of a lesson based on personal preference.
So, the short answer is that there isn’t an established science to how long a music lesson should be. However, beyond personal experience and preference, there are some factors that will determine the best length of a music lesson.
Factors That Determine the Length of a Music Lesson
This is what you need to keep in mind when trying to determine how long a particular music lesson should be:
1. Your Age
Young children generally have a short attention span. Save for a few exceptional cases, many students in this age bracket have yet to develop an appreciation for music.
The teacher may sometimes struggle to keep the learner stimulated enough to make it through even 15 minutes of the lesson.
It makes sense that lessons for these learners be short. A cap of 30 minutes will work for most, but some teachers will find even that may be too long. However, some parents, and indeed teachers, may find it uneconomical to schedule lessons shorter than 30 minutes.
Ideally, each lesson should be broken into smaller chunks with breaks in-between. The breaks could be used for interactive and fun music games that keep the child stimulated through the lesson and also to allow the children to catch a break and re-energize.
2. Frequency of Lessons
Finding time for extracurricular or leisure pursuits like music lessons may prove a tricky balancing act for some people. Busy lifestyles just do not allow some of us enough free time.
Many of is will be lucky to find time even for one music lesson a week. Faced with such a predicament, you may have to opt for lessons longer than the standard length.
I would have to re-order my schedule and make more time for the student. A standard 30-minute lesson will have to be 45, 60 minutes, or as long as we both can handle. I will want the lesson to cover as much ground as possible so the student can get enough stuff to go and practice from home.
Sometimes a learner just does not have enough money to register for longer lessons. This is a difficult one for me as the teacher, especially if the learner has shown a real interest in music.
It is funny, but not all students who take music lessons do it out of self-interest. Some just feel pressured into living other people’s dreams; a parent, guardian, or whoever is paying for the lesson. This type of student may turn up for lessons but will hardly show any enthusiasm.
It is painful getting a student who truly wants to learn an instrument but can only afford a shorter lesson. I can always find other ways of helping the student, including pointing them towards free online resources, without giving them time I would otherwise be billing for. But you cannot substitute for spending face-to-face time with a music teacher.
4. Lack of Enthusiasm
Every music teacher will tell you this isn’t something they enjoy doing, but you may sometimes have to find ways of ending a relationship with a student due to a lack of enthusiasm.
When a student looks like they would rather be doing something else, there may be no other option. Where I can’t extricate myself from an uninterested student without looking unprofessional, I will most likely schedule shorter lessons with the student.
But, on the opposite extreme is a student who, despite their young age, will show so much interest and progress that they could do with a longer lesson. Instead of a standard 30-minute lesson they might have lessons of 45 minutes long.
5. Practice Time
Ideally, a student should make enough time to practice on their own all the skills and tricks they've learn in their lessons. Yet, for different reasons, some students will not practice as much as they should. There are some who may not even practice at all.
Some people may simply not have enough time available for practice. Others just do not have the discipline to practice despite having ample time on their hands.
But practice is not something a music student can wish away or just do away with, at least for those that genuinely want to improve. If a student can’t get enough practice on their own the teacher may have to incorporate a practice session into the student’s weekly lesson. This will result in a longer lesson, more than would be applicable for students who practice on their own. A 30-minute lesson may be reworked into a 45-minute or hour long one. An added benefit to this is the practice session itself becomes a supervised one where the teacher will watch and coach the student as they practice.
6. Skill Level
It's not only beginners who want to take music lessons. There are also intermediate, advanced students, and even professional musicians looking to brush up on some areas. Clearly, their needs will differ. Not least because they are at different skill levels but because they might, as beginners, be constrained by budget and time.
Discounting budgetary and time challenges, lessons for students in the intermediate and advanced levels should be well adapted to handle 45 minutes' to one hour long lessons. Some will even want to kick on to 90 minutes. .
7. Flexible Lessons
Sometimes you get a student, usually advanced learners, who you develop such a good rapport with that it feels right to let lessons run for as long as they have to. This is not, by any measure, a typical music student. And you two will have to share a deeper and mutual appreciation for music for this type of lesson to be even possible.
To add to that, you will both have to agree on how the lessons will be billed as the more conventional methods may not be applicable.
For this type of lesson, the teacher will likely serve as the student’s guide with lesser emphasis placed on training for basic stuff like technique. A greater chunk of lesson time will be spent on areas like artistic expression and repertoire, preparing the student for either an exam or performance. The lessons can be long or short depending on the how much free time the student has. The teacher may only have to schedule these lessons for the end of their day to avoid disruptions for other students.
All Factors Considered
Ultimately, different circumstances will inevitably dictate how long certain music lessons will be. Every student will come with their own unique challenges and expectations. They will have different time and budget limitations, skill and interest levels, and be of varied ages.
Each learner may need their lessons scheduled at specific lengths, for certain times during the day, and at different frequencies. As the teacher, it is my job to take all factors into consideration and structure a lesson that is long enough to meet both the student’s musical goals and my professional expectations.
About the Author: Brian Collins
I am a classically trained singer who believes that every instrument requires maintenance - including the voice! I started my professional music studies at the age of 8 and competed in and won several local and state piano competitions. I graduated with honors and earned my Bachelor of Music Education in 2003, and since then I have studied with famous musicians and teachers around the world. I have also completed hundreds and hundreds of voice lessons, exploring various methods, and attended countless seminars on voice coaching for all ages.