Practice Slowly

Beginner Piano Practice

"Practice slowly!" is a phrase just about every piano student has heard - many times!

Piano teachers understand that learning a song slowly allows a student to play far fewer mistakes...

...which ultimately leads to faster progress.

But often, excitement over playing a song, or simply impatience, pulls a student to try and just "go for it."

What happens?


Do any of these sound familiar?

  • My fingers just won't listen to me!
  • I can play everything fine hands separate...
  • I play every day and still can't master this song!

Worse, too-fast practice can actually learn-in mistakes, which means we have to spend time un-learning mistakes and learning songs correctly.

Though, sometimes, this can prove to a student that my desire for slow practicing is really the best way!

So, just what is practicing slowly?

When I say practice slowly, I mean something very specific. There are two parts to the process: the mental, and the physical.

Slow piano practice: mental

You need to completely let go of the desire to play the song at tempo.

Yes, you read that right. :-)

Many students so want to hear a song they love coming from their fingertips that they're not willing to practice slowly. Their focus is on playing the song -- right away -- just as it's "supposed to sound." But that focus doesn't allow for learning!

Instead, focus your desire on learning the song correctly. Playing it at full speed will happen automatically, over time, as you practice (preferably, daily). In the meantime, it might be so slow that it might not even sound like a song, just a series of keys you happen to push down.

Slow piano practice: physical

What does slow really mean? Slightly slower than normal? Nope.

Slow means: slow enough that you can think about what each finger has to do before you push a key down. Think about how slow that would be. The magic is that you're allowing the time you need to give yourself instructions before you play.

That's key. You're giving yourself instructions, and eradicating mistakes at the same time. You're actually telling your hands what to do! And you're building correct muscle memory at the same time.

As you play every day, allowing yourself "think time," your playing will become smoother, and tempo will increase without conscious thought on your part. It happens pretty quickly

You'll also have a freedom in playing that you may have never experienced: no fear of mistakes. You've simply learned the song, your brain and your body both know what to do!

The hidden bonus of slow practicing!

You know those songs that you just can't seem to get perfect?

Those ones with niggling mistakes that you just can't leave behind? In fact, you seem to make mistakes at the same point every time you play? Wouldn't you like to overcome those mistakes once and for all?

Practice slowly. Follow the steps above: let go of your desire to play at tempo, and play slowly enough that you can think about each finger before you press it down.

If you can allow yourself to play slowly and let go of your impatience and expectations, and just follow the process, it can work wonders!

Happy practicing!