Practicing is absolutely essential for making any real progress playing the piano. If you have any questions about what your child specifically needs to be practicing, it is useful to speak with the teacher. Remember that all young students, children and teenagers, need a proactive, positive and supportive home learning environment and to be part of a coaching team that involves student, parent and teacher.
Practice develops a range of areas that come together to successfully perform music: physical strength and endurance, memory (general ability and for specific pieces), knowledge of theory, and foundational spatial and technical awareness.
Strength and fine muscle control are essential for playing intermediate pieces onwards. A minimum of 20 minutes three times a week (or ten minutes every day for a young child) is required to begin building the strength necessary to play the piano. This is the minimum practice time for a beginner. Any additional, if that time is spent happily, time is likely to lead to faster progress.
Playing with dynamic volume range and smart tempo requires considerably more than this. The complexity of intermediate pieces also demands more deciphering and learning time (compare the difficulty of learning the 2 times tables with learning the 127 times tables). To advance past a beginner level, students need to commit increasingly more time to practice. By second grade, students need to practice six days a week for at least 20 minutes. A good rule would be to multiply the level a student is aspiring to play by ten minutes for a guide of how long to practice each day (e.g. grade 4 = 40 minutes, grade 6 = 60 minutes).
The artistic, interpretive side of performance also increases the time needed to spend studying pieces (i.e. practicing). It takes seconds to draw a stick man; but could you reproduce the Mona Lisa in 2 minutes? Musicality also cannot be produced in minutes. Performing a ‘master’s’ composition is a responsibility that can only be achieved once the pianist has spent time really getting to know and internalise the music. It demands care and commitment.