Suggested Practice Techniques

You can learn faster and easier if you do a few simple things. These suggestions are not time-consuming and easily carried out if you schedule time for them in your day on a regular basis. The most important thing to remember about practice is that it's not the amount of time you spend, but how well you use the time that counts. If you practice several hours a day and simply repeat the same mistakes each time through, you have not practiced effectively.

  • Take the time to read your assignment book. The specific assignments and practice suggestions are intended to assist in practice.
  • When practicing, make sure that the environment is free from distractions and noise. Turn off the TV, put the answering machine on, and give yourself a quiet environment to work.
  • Make sure the music is legible and well-lit.
  • Set aside a specific time each day for your work at the piano and stick to the schedule. If you are a morning person, practice in the morning. Avoiding or delaying getting to the piano will just make you run out of time.
  • Unlike studying for tests or exams, piano practice cannot be crammed in at the last minute or day before the lesson. Plan the time to do practice every day.
  • Don't try to learn a piece all at once; take it in sections and practice a section until you can do it without mistakes three times through. Then move on to the next section.
  • Remember the value of taking a section slowly, making sure that you play all the notes correctly and that you count through difficult sections. Worry about playing to tempo when you have the notes and the rhythm right.
  • A very valuable way of knowing whether you've learned a piece is to learn it well enough that you can play either hand independently starting at any place in the music. When you can do that, you can begin to work on being musical with the piece.
  • Learning a new piece of music is hard work. Reward yourself after a good practice session by playing a familiar and favorite work just for the fun of it. Think of this as the dessert after meal.
  • Above all, don't simply repeat mistakes. Use practice to work out mistakes, not to reinforce them by continually repeating them. When you repeat mistakes, they are just that much more difficult to get rid of later.
  • Take the suggestions from your teacher seriously. After long years of training and teaching experience, chances are your teacher's suggestions will prove successful, if followed.
  • If possible, participate in concerts and recitals at your teacher's studio, even if only to audit. So much can be learned by performing yourself and listening to others perform.
  • Attend as many recitals and concerts as possible. The more music that you hear, the more of an idea of the musical concepts you can get.
  • Read biographies of composers, performing artists and conductors. Also, rent movies that are related to the lives of musicians. There are so many wonderful movies and books readily available, that really no one has the excuse not to know more about the composers, their lives and music. If you can't find the time to read books, classical CD's and records usually have useful and interesting information about the composer, the musical structure and ideas expressed, and the performers in the recording.

Practice Criteria & Tips (again!)

There is a saying that "If you do not practice for one day, you will know it. If you do not practice for two days, your family members will know it and if you do not practice for three days, the audience will know it.”

Practice Recommendations:

Beginning Pianist – 15 minutes of daily practice

Intermediate – 30 minutes of daily practice

Advanced – 45+ minutes of daily practice


Step-by-Step Practice Tips

As with any skill you want to learn, practice makes perfect. The more you play, the better your playing will become and - the most important thing - the more you will enjoy it.

·              Play every day. It will improve your playing much more than just practicing once a week.

·              Flex your fingers to make them supple before starting to play.

·              Warm your hands if they are cold.

·              Choose times to play when you can be by yourself. Nothing is worse than having other people listen while you are learning to play.

·              Start playing everything slowly. When you can play the piece evenly and smoothly, gradually work up to the right speed. You won't get it right if you start out too fast.

·              Try to learn something new every week. Don't be discouraged if you are not getting everything right the first few times around.

·              Be patient. Make sure you can play every piece smoothly before you go on to the next tune.

·              If you have problems with one particular part, practice that part separately until you've mastered it, then try the whole tune all the way through.

·              Try to play keeping your eyes on the music, not on your hands or the keyboard.

·              Polish your playing. Correct mistakes before they become bad habits.

·              Relax by playing music you already know. Enjoy yourself.