In my experience, to see the bare minimum progress, students need to practice at least 4 days per week for at least 15 minutes in the beginning. Less than this tends to mean coordination never develops and no progress is made. This amount of practice will potentially allow progress for the duration of level 1. By level 2, you would, at minimum need to up this to half an hour 4 days per week.
More practice means faster progress, and you should be aiming to practice every day.
Less practice than this tends to mean no progress is made at all and the student becomes bored and frustrated.
Royal Conservatory Exams
For anyone interested in Royal Conservatory exams, it is important to understand that in general, it takes a minimum of 1 year to work through each level. This INCLUDES the preparatory level before entering grade 1. Think of it as violin/piano kindergarten.
Also, before even starting the preparatory level material, some time needs to be spent learning basic set up, posture, notes, and rhythm. The exact amount of time varies but you can assume at least 6 months.
All of this is assuming the student is practicing adequately at home. Inadequate practice means progress will be much slower.
Occasionally I get asked to rush a student through the levels or to skip a level. This is a bad idea that will lead to major problems later on. Even if a student does manage to rush through the beginning levels, this generally means not enough time was spent setting up the basics, and a large amount of remedial work will need to be done in the later levels. This is a bit like trying to rush a student through academic grades, only to end up with a child in grade 7 reading at a grade 3 level and failing tests. Some teachers do allow this, but in my experience this always means the teacher did not take the time to set the student up properly and it always ends with the student getting discouraged, frustrated, and stressed because they reach a point where they can't progress without going back and working on the beginner basics, and it is hugely demoralizing, and boring, to have to do this when you think you should be playing higher-level material.
RCM Exams for high school credit
This is a fantastic thing to do if you have been studying for years already by the time you reach high school. It is not, however, a good idea to try to start an instrument in middle school with the idea that you can get high school credit. It takes years of work and hours of practice to make it to level 7 and 8, the levels for which you are given high school credit. While I don't know if I would say it is impossible to cover 8 levels in 4 or 5 years, you have to understand what you'd be looking at in terms of time commitment. To get through that amount of material, and more importantly, develop your playing, muscle control, and coordination, you are looking at an hour or 2 of home practice EVERY day for the lower levels, and most likely 2-4 hours of practice for the upper levels. Even then, it would be a stretch.
If you want to learn to play an instrument well in a condensed amount of time, it is something you can try, as long as you fully understand the challenges, but if you are looking just for high school credit, this is not the best course of action.
Work Ethic and time management
a student must learn to make time to practice on a daily (or almost
daily basis. This sets up the ability to manage time, and ensure that tasks are completed, developing a valuable and transferable skill that will serve the student well in all aspects of like. In addition, learning
that one must put in a consistent effort in small amounts on a regular basis in order to achieve a long
term goal teaches the student perseverance and develops the ability to stick with a task until it is
Teamwork: One of the beautiful things about the violin is the fact that it is an orchestral instrument. It is at its best when in a group, where it usually carries the melody line and relies on other instruments for harmony. Playing in a group requires huge amounts of coordination and attention, and students learn to
work together, consider others around them, and to work well as part of a team.
Attention to detail: Music lessons work on polishing the piece of music a student is working on, teaching that the details such as rhythm, proper pitch, and beautiful sound must be present, rather than just playing something that approximates the correct melody. In this way, they learn attention to detail, and how to ensure the smaller aspects of any task are completed, which, again, is valuable for schoolwork, chores at home and many other aspects of everyday life.
Listening skills: While in lessons, the student learns to listen to the teacher. The one on one setting provides an excellent way to develop this skill, as even a child who struggles with this will be gently guided by the teacher each week, and the teacher is able to take as much time as needed to work with the student until he or she develops the attention and listening skills needed. This transfers well to
other aspects of the student’s life.