Music Facts 101 is back with another informative story. So, you’ve finally decided to enroll in Piano Lessons. Great! But you’re finding it difficult to devote time to practicing everyday. We get it – homework, the kids, meetings, laundry, playdates. The list goes on. That’s why we decided to feature our next Music Facts 101 Blog on Piano Practice Tips! So grab your notepad and favorite pen or pencil and enjoy jotting down these helpful tips that will surely step up your piano practice game! Info courtesy of hub.yamaha.com, www.flowkey.com, www.wehrlipubs.com and www.pastimesinc.com.“An amateur practices until he can do a thing right, a professional until he can’t do it wrong.” ~ Percy C. Buck, English music educator, writer, organist, and composer. Click To Tweet
1. Set aside 30 minutes each day to practice. That’s 30 minutes minimum — the more you can practice the better. If you do have more time available, try breaking your practice into 15-minute intervals throughout the day so it doesn’t feel too daunting.
2. Don’t forget to warm up. Have you ever tried to send a text message while your fingers were freezing? It’s nearly impossible to type quickly and without mistakes because your fingers are stiff. The same goes for playing the piano. It’s important to warm up your hands and fingers so you can fluidly play the keys. This is especially important when you are learning because you will stumble upon enough mistakes even without clunky stiff fingers!
Linda and her hubby, Barry Wehrli (also a piano teacher!) created a Beginner Piano Kit for their curriculum. It includes a set of squeeze balls, which are perfect for warming up those hands! Squeeze both balls at the same time, curving all fingertips as if to make a fist with each squeeze. Do this until your arms feel slightly tired. Note the number of squeezes done.
3. Don’t try to take on too much. Unless you’re a piano virtuoso, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to master an arrangement the first time you play it. Instead of taking on the entire piece, break it down into manageable sections. Depending on your level of ability, this can range from just one measure to one page. Whatever you or your teacher decide is achievable for you, set your practice goal and stick to it.
4. Practice slowly. Rushing through the piece means that you might make mistakes, and then you run the risk of learning those mistakes. Instead, play each note deliberately until you are sure of your fingering. Linda recommends using a Wittner MT-50 Metronome to keep timing.
5. Listen to the song when you’re not playing. Knowing the tune of a song can often help your fingers move along the keys. Download the song you’re trying to master onto your smartphone or tablet and listen to it often — even when you’re away from the piano. Having the song in your head can also help get you inspired to sit down at the piano and practice it yourself.
6. Wear headphones so as to not be disturbed (if using a keyboard.) This also has the benefit of you not disturbing others. All digital keyboard instruments provide headphone jacks. Practice time is the perfect time to use them.
7. Set a specific goal for every session. Decide what you want to achieve and make it something you can measure. By focusing on the outcome you get there quicker and it’s far more satisfying. If you want to improve a technical or physical ability like finger span or speed, then aim to nail down five specific arpeggios and scales.
8. Remove distractions. Distractions come from everywhere. It’s unavoidable, but you can do something about it. Ask family or friends not to speak to you for the next half hour. If you can only practice in the lounge, then make sure you practice when you’re alone and even if you can’t hear the TV, turn it off. You may think that the moving images aren’t distracting, but they attract enough attention from your subconscious to reduce the quality of your practice.
9. Fight bad habits before they form. Nobody gets it right the first time, but it’s still frustrating when we come across a difficult part. Resist the urge to move onto the next section, fix it immediately before bad habits can form.
10. Reward yourself. Remember that goal you set at the start? Hit it, then reward yourself. Psychological research tells us that this “positive reinforcement” is far better for learning and developing good habits than punishing mistakes (“negative reinforcement”). So when a session isn’t going well, don’t be hard on yourself. Keep calm and carry on until you achieve your goal.
Thank you for checking out this month’s Music Facts 101 Blog. Feeling inspired? Ready to put these practicing tips to use? I’m glad to set up a free consultation with Linda Wehrli either in-studio or on Zoom. Feel free to email me at email@example.com with best days/times. 🙂
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