Practice Tips for Piano
Practicing music helps keep my mind at ease during times of stress, frustration, etc, and I hope it can help you too. Here's some tips I wrote for our students at the start of the most recent lockdown.
Write on your music.
Use a pencil, and an eraser! It’s important to mark in little reminders such as finger numbers, rhythm counts, reminders to look ahead, and circle your sticky spots. Writing on your music makes you more familiar with it and eases your level of comfort. This is a good step to take when working through a song.
That’s not all - listen back to it too! Your cell phone voice memo app works fine. Are you cringing at the thought? Self-critique is an important step in learning. We’re a lot more aware of how we’re playing when we’re just listening, and not focused on reading the music, counting the rhythm, giving a performance or the technique of actually playing. Bonus: Try it while reading along with your sheet music too and use a pencil to mark in your sticky spots.
Stick to a routine.
It has not been easy lately. Keep going with your music lessons online if you can find time and space for it. Practice at the same time as your lesson on at least one other day each week. Creating an atmosphere can help with setting a routine! Turn on your light, put on your favourite sweater, dust off your keys, get your pencil, stretch your wrists, arms and shoulders and get ready to play. Start with a small warm up like scales or an older piece you know really well. Even if you haven’t played in a while, it will come back to you. Finish in the same way with a little cool down! This is just like a workout routine. If you stick with it, you’ll notice the results.
Set realistic goals.
Learning to play a whole piece of new music perfectly in one night is not the most realistic. Want to finish your book in 3 months? Re-learn a song from the past? How about learning to play the chords to your favourite song, or getting that difficult classical piece up to tempo. Maybe you have rockstar goals. Whatever your goal is, just know that to master any skill, it takes a lot of patience while working through many frustrations during hours and hours of practice. Everyone starts somewhere!
I asked our piano instructor Nivin for some more helpful tips for practicing music:
“Analyze the piece in front of you before you begin to play it, so that you are mentally prepared to play the notes correctly.”
“Always practice the section you’re not good at before moving on. If you mess up in the middle, rather than starting the whole piece from the very beginning, just go back and repeat that part.”
"It’s important to take breaks when you are practicing, especially if you are stuck and you keep getting it wrong. Take a break and come back to it.”