Piano Practice Tips
I know what you’re thinking… practice is such a burden!!!!
When we think of practising, it sounds like a chore—and no one likes chores! This, of course, also applies within the context of learning the piano. However, in order to get good at something, we must practise—it’s a means to an end. So how can we be more positive about practising?
Well, first up we need to change the way we think about it. We need to look at it as a way of accelerating the learning process so that we’ll (soon) be able to actually play the piano and play it well—keep the goal in sight. We need to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone… for example, if we just keep playing the same old tunes, we will of course get better at playing those tunes, but we won’t be pushing ouselves and actually learning new things and new techniques.
So, we need to structure our practice in such a way that it keeps challenging us and helps us keep moving forward. Our practice needs to consistently involve new things while also allowing us to perfect things we already know.
So when you fire up your course, open your book, or are about to set off to see your instructor, don’t think ‘ugh, I have to go practise now’ (a chore), think ‘Yes, here we go, I’ll soon be a great piano player’! Look forward to practising, because in the end, it will be worth it. Keep your eyes on the prize!
Practice can also be flexible. Do you have a specific goal? Perhaps you want to learn or improve your command of the scales? Or maybe learning your chords is a more immediate concern? Or chord substitutions, arpeggios, inversions—the list goes on. If you have a specific goal, build your practice around that goal.
Try a 2 tier approach to your practice. First concentrate on the demanding/difficult stuff, then afterwards relax and enjoy playing some tunes... (prefereably ones you've yet to master, so you can improve on them).
Your Environment Really Is Important!
I’ve found that for me personally, a clear/less cluttered environment is more conducive to learning. And not just for learning the piano. If you find yourself struggling to concentrate, or want to increase the effectiveness of the course you’re working your way through or the book you’re learning from, then make sure the room in which you are learning is tidy and well lit. I believe a clean and tidy environment has a calming effect and reduces anxiety… which can only be a good thing!
Don't Overdo It
Your well being is paramount above all else.
While practising, you'll want to stretch your arms, shoulders, and neck regularly. You should also get up and walk around every so often—go grab a drink or go for a walk (particularly during long sessions). Never... ever, just sit there for hours without getting up to stretch and move around a bit! (I am obviously not a medical professional but to me, this is just common sense). If you pull a muscle, have new aches or any other problems during or after that monster piano session, go see your doctor straight away!
Away from the piano, try to stay active, (being into health and fitness, I exercise regularly and this includes yoga which may be something you might want to try, it's demanding but also relaxing!).
Final Thoughts and Ramblings
Repetition is an essential part of any practice and if you find something particularly challenging, try to prioritise it over other areas and practise it more often until you have it down pat. Don’t worry if it takes a long time to get it—you will get it in the end.
You'll make lots of mistakes along the way, that's just a part of learning anything new... and you'll be playing things over and over (and over and over again!), so try practising at a reasonable hour if you live in a property where others can hear.
Alternatively, if you are using a digital piano or a keyboard, you can just plug in a pair of headphones and practise to your heart’s content! (this is me—just plug in my headphones, and away I go!).
Eventually, you'll be able to find your way around the keyboard with ease and be able to play without looking at the keys, just like a touch-typist on their computer keyboard. Try to set aside a regular time for practising, and keep to it. I know this is sometimes easier said than done, but try to keep the practice as regular as possible... it will pay off in the end.
If things get on top of you, don't sweat it... sometimes it's better to just take a step back and go do something else for a while. Your piano or keyboard will still be there when you get back.
I really believe anyone can learn to play the piano to a decent and enjoyable level, but it's important to remember that everyone is different, people learn at different rates. Some people will need more practice than others, but at the end of the day, the more you practise the better you will become—it really is that simple.
Above all else, enjoy yourselves!
Why not read my full Pianoforall review to see if it could help learn to play?