Piano practice tips
Practicing is essential for progress in piano! Here are some tips to help you get started!
Make sure you actually have time to practice!
If you are over scheduled with all kinds of other activities, you will not have the time or energy to practice and will not achieve much benefit from piano lessons! Parents: Please consider limiting your child's extracurricular activities to no more than one other thing besides piano.
Set aside a particular time of day, and make focused practice a part of your routine Try to be consistent about the practicing schedule--i.e. early in the morning, right after dinner, etc. For young children, multiple short sessions can often be more effective than long, tiring ones. Make sure your practice environment is free of distractions like TV or video game noises. Remove cell phones, iPads, etc from the practice environment if these are a distraction.
Ideally, it's great if you can play the piano every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Young beginners can start with just 10 or 15 minutes a day, then gradually increase the time, or the number of short practice sessions. (This actually happens naturally, as the
pieces become more challenging and take longer to learn, and the child becomes more mature
and more focused.)
As a general guideline, intermediate students should try to practice at least ½ hr per day 5 days a week. Advanced students will typically practice longer, but may be busier and unable to fit in 5 days. I prefer not to emphasize the amount of time—but rather the quality of practice. Things to watch out for: Is the student following the suggestions I have written down for them? Are they working out "trouble spots" or just playing the piece through mindlessly making the same mistakes?
Parents: Sit down at the piano and go over the assignment with your child at least a couple of times a week and offer praise and positive reinforcement. With young children, it's great if the parent is able to make this a daily ritual. Check to make sure your child
gets through the entire assignment during the course of the week (including the written workalthough not necessarily in each practice session.
Parents: If you play piano or another instrument yourself, sit down once in awhile and play—or sing! Demonstrate actively for your child that music making is an enjoyable activity.
Go out and hear some live music. Parents: Take your children out to a concert from time to time—of whatever type of music you enjoy, or go to an outdoor concert where sitting still is not required. Students: Discover what kind of music draws you. Think about what you would like to learn musically.
Share your music with others! I encourage and support memorization of pieces--so that if you find yourself in a situation with a piano and no music, you can sit down and play. Play for your friends, for family and holiday gatherings and sing-a-longs, or at church. Let me know if
there are pieces you would like to learn for these kinds of situations. (Maybe "Happy Birthday"?)
Call or email me with any questions at all. If you live close by and run into "technical difficulties" with practicing, you can even stop by for five minutes and I'll help you work through it!