Tips for making your practice pay off!
Students are required to practice a MINIMUM of 20 minutes per day, 5 days per week. Students who want to play more challenging, fun pieces should expect to practice more!
Practice your note flash cards every time you practice the piano until you can identify all the treble & bass clef staff cards correctly within 60 seconds. After that, practice them all at least once a week for another year. Learning the notes so that you can read them easily will help you play better than any other tip!
Keep a pencil on your piano.
Look at and use the fingering printed in your music. It’s there to help you. Using printed fingering will help you get from one note to another with enough fingers, a smooth sound and no awkward movements. If you don’t use it, teacher will probably ask that you practice that section AGAIN, using better fingering. It’s easier to learn it right the first time!
Music isn’t music without rhythm. If you play with no rhythm, no one wants to listen to you play! Notice and count all the beats. If you don’t, teacher will insist that you practice that section AGAIN, counting the rhythms. It’s easier to learn it right the first time!
Here is the order of things to do when you practice:
1) Decide when your practice times will be each week. Write those practice times on your, or your family’s, calendar each week. Stick to the times that you have chosen! Creating a routine for yourself and for your family is very important.
2) Turn your phone to silent mode or put it in another room. Don’t answer it while you are practicing.
3) Look through the piece before you play it. How many beats should be in each measure? What sharps or flats do you need to remember to play all the way through? Are any sections repeated? If yes, where do you need to go back? What hand position do you start in? Does the hand position change? If yes, where?
4) Play through the piece slowly once. This is called sight reading. If you are a beginner, play each hand alone first. If an intermediate or advanced student, play it slowly with both hands this first time if possible. Sight reading is just a rough run-through. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
5) Practice each hand alone several times. Do this every time you practice. Mark tricky spots with your pencil. Examples of tricky spots might be fingering, flats or sharps that are easy to forget, and spots where you move your hands. **Count all the beats so your rhythm is correct!
This is REALLY important!! Use a metronome sometimes.**
6) After a few days of practicing each hand alone, begin to put both hands together. Do this in small sections! Don’t try to get both hands together all the way through at once. It’s overwhelming, frustrating, & the result may sound sloppy.
7) When it becomes easy to play both hands together, begin to add details like dynamics (loud & soft areas), articulation (different ways to touch the keys), and phrasing.
8) If the piece needs to go faster, speed it up just a little at a time. Use a metronome sometimes to check your rhythm again.
9) Expect that some pieces or parts of pieces will be challenging. Work challenging parts in small pieces & in limited amounts of time. If you get really frustrated, go do something else for five minutes, then practice again. When it’s hard or doesn’t sound great, don’t give up!! Success comes from hard work! There’s no other way. You WILL get through it, and it will sound fabulous when you’ve finished the piece!
10) Play pieces that you are comfortable with in front of people. It might make you a little nervous at first, but it will be MUCH easier if you do it a lot. Playing with an audience can be lots of fun when you get used to it.
A last word...
To paraphrase... "We all live very busy, full lives. If you want to take up something new, to bring something new into your life, you must decide what you will give up to make that happen." That is the truth. But it's worth it! :-)