The Most Effective Practice Methods

Learn to Practice More Efficiently

Without practice it is almost impossible for a student to continually improve at the piano. Here are some ideas that will help you get more out of your practice sessions. Remember, in the case of piano practice, it's about the QUALITY and QUANTITY of your practice sessions—One won't work without the other.

Be Consistent

Practice every day if possible. Sticking with a routine will bring about improvement much faster and help you keep up your motivation to practice.

Shorter Durations, More Sessions

You will be more focused and get more out of your practice sessions if you spread them out and practice for less time, but more sessions. For example, try to practice 3x a day for 15 minutes instead of 1x a day for 45 minutes. When you practice for longer amounts of time you lose focus, get tired and practice becomes less effective.

Prepare Yourself before you Practice

Make sure your fingernails are trimmed and your hands are clean before practice. Also, get your hands warm so they will be more agile. Make sure you aren't hungry or too tired. To get the most out of your time, you should be refreshed and ready with no distractions.

Warm-Up

For warm-up, play your scales and arpeggios or review a piece you have mastered.

Study the Music Before You Begin

Be sure to study your music before you start. It will be much easier to learn if you are prepared by knowing all the important information about your piece. Check the Time Signature and the Key Signature. Look for any accidentals, and Time Signature or Key Signature changes. Figure out if any sections in the piece repeat themselves in other parts of the piece. Looking ahead should make your practice sessions a little easier.

Play a New Piece Hands Separately First

Playing hands separately first will help you to get to know what is coming before you play with both hands together. The piece will probably be less overwhelming once you are comfortable playing each part by itself.

Practice Slowly

Begin learning each new piece by playing slowly. It will take triple the time to get it right if you start out playing too fast. When you play too fast it's easier to miss mistakes. Once 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, and it's never good to practice mistakes over and over again.

Play Your Pieces in Sections

If you find yourself having problems in certain parts of your piece, try practicing just that measure by itself until you have mastered it. If a piece becomes overwhelming, try just playing the first page or first section until you have it down and then move on to the next part. You will be amazed at how easy the hard parts may become when you work on one hard measure at a time.

Don't Keep Practicing the same Mistakes

Correct mistakes before they become bad habits. It is much harder to fix a mistake when you have practiced it over and over. Be sure to correct your mistakes the first time you notice them. Play the problematic measure by itself as many times as it takes to make it correct. Then play the piece again.

Try New Pieces to Keep you Motivated

If you are losing the motivation to practice or if you are just tired of the pieces you always play, try picking out a new piece to start. Keep practicing the pieces you have been working on, but add something new that might break up the monotony of playing the same piece over and over for weeks or months.

Practice without Pedal

When you have the pedal down it's easier to miss mistakes. Learn your pieces without pedal first and they will sound better when you add the pedal back in.

Record Yourself

It is extremely beneficial to be able to hear yourself play in a recording. You will not only be able to hear mistakes you may have missed while playing, but you will also be able to hear how much you have improved as time goes by.

Try to enjoy it!

Have fun while you practice! Have a good attitude. If you are dreading practice and feeling negative, you won't play as well. Get excited about practicing something new or about mastering something you've already played. Try to set small goals so you know you will have accomplished something during each session. The more fun you have during practice sessions, the less you will dread them!

Open Quote

One man gets nothing but discord out of a piano; another gets harmony. No one claims the piano is at fault.

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— Author Unknown

Open Quote

Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.

Close Quote

— Frédéric Chopin