It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that not all students taking music lessons practice as they should. Just like when a student doesn't turn in his/her homework at school, a teacher can tell if a student has been practicing or not. As a private music teacher, I often wonder why a student would choose to pay for private lessons if they aren't going to practice what they're learning. Here's what I've come up with.
First, some students just plain don't want to practice. Which should lead them (or their parents) to question why they want to take lessons in the first place. If you only want to sing for 30 mins a week (if you even enjoy your actual lesson time), then private lessons aren't for you. It would be like hiring a personal trainer that you see once a week, and never work-out in between sessions. You simply won't make progress.
Second, they lack the time management to allow for adequate practice time. Ideally, students would have 30-60 mins each day to practice, but even as little as 30 mins 3 days a week can help your progression. When deciding if you, or your child, should take private lessons, look at your schedule. It is essential that you make time, several times a week, to practice.
Many students don't realize that the best progress is made during their practice sessions between lessons. The teachers are there to show you the next step, and to give you guidance on how to execute that step properly. But, you won't actually master it in their studio. You will master the technique in your practice time.
Fourth, often students, especially singers, won't have the right equipment to practice with. I think it's really important for singers to have a piano to practice with, but that's not always possible. I record each student's lesson and send it to them each week so they may practice with it. If your teacher doesn't do this, ask if you can record your lesson to practice with at home. Also, you MUST have a metronome. Singers are notorious for not being able to count, and practicing with a metronome will absolutely help.
Lastly, the biggest reason students don't practice, is that they don't know how. They leave the lesson without a clear understanding of what is to be expected and how to practice. Please ask your teacher how and what you should be practicing. Your teacher is always there to help you and ABSOLUTELY wants you to practice!
Practicing is the most important part of taking private lessons. If anything, it's an opportunity to sing (or play your instrument) every day. And as parents, we can help support the students by giving encouragement when they do practice, offering help and guidance (even if you aren't quite sure what you're doing), and allowing the student to be creative and open-minded while learning their new skills.