Practice Piano Efficiently

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

It’s a well-established fact that playing the piano is proven to increase IQ, as it develops new neural pathways in the brains of both adults and children. Practicing the piano is crucial to learning how to play piano efficiently and improving as a musician.

But how does one structure piano practice?

There are a multitude of ways you can ensure that you are practicing the piano effectively and without the errors that beginners often make. We will be discussing them here.

Use your time wisely.

It is common for us to lack time. No matter if we are adults with jobs, or children going to school.

However, practicing every day is a must if you are truly serious about learning piano. To make this easier, make a timetable for yourself and adhere to it. The best way is to practice piano at the same time every day and devote that half hour or hour to solely practicing, no matter what. You might end up skipping a day, but the dedication to get right back into the routine is necessary for your progress and success.

Experts recommend beginner piano students to spend 20 to 40 minutes each day practicing the piano. Advanced piano students should practice for 45 minutes to an hour every day. That said, if you were to take half an hour practicing seriously, it would be better than spending hours on the piano without thinking.

Structure Your Piano Practice

Anchor your limited time around what is important. Write a notebook of goals and objectives you have for yourself. Take it out every practice session to refresh upon what you have learned and what you have left to learn. Cross out goals and objectives that you have reached.

For example, if you are sitting down to learn a new piano piece, you (or your piano teacher, or the two of you together) might want to come up with the following goals:

  • Split the piece up, learning it in parts. Some pianists like to learn the right hand, then the left, before putting the two together, while others like to attempt the piece using both hands but split it into lines, bars or sections.

  • Remember correct fingering. Especially for the difficult parts. Learning a piece with incorrect fingering can severely impact your progress.

  • Take it slow. Make sure when you start out with a new piano piece, you take it slowly. Don’t expect to be able to play ''A Tempo'' right away.

  • Note any challenges in the piece you need to focus on. Record these down so that you may measure your daily progress.

  • Don’t end your practice session by practicing something incorrectly. Make sure to correct all mistakes and play your parts correctly before stopping practice for the day. Ending on a sour (wrong) note can actually help it linger on your mind. And you might even find yourself starting up on the wrong foot during your next practice session.

Make Sure to Warm Up First

Just like exercising, you must warm up before flexing your fingers on the piano. Doing 10 minutes of scales is recommended to limber your fingers and get the blood flowing in your hands. It might be boring, but it is a necessary prelude before attacking whatever musical piece(s) you are practicing for maximum benefits.

Take It Slow

Tempo is more than just numbers on a page, and playing slowly is one of the basic fundamentals of learning a new piece. It might be fun to immediately follow the written tempo when possible (or go even faster), but there is a lot at stake in exchange for that momentary thrill. The feel, tone, and character of a piece needs to be thoroughly felt out, and not simply rushed. Long-term success depends on how much patience one possesses. It is recommended to break down the piece into sections, then slowly comb over every nitty-gritty detail it has. Afterwards, use digital or analog metronomes to raise the tempo bit by bit, and gradually build up the intended tempo.

Understand The Piece

Understanding the musical piece means more than just knowing how to play the notes. You should think about why the piece sounds the way it does and what mood the composer is trying to convey. With familiarity comes understanding. The more we play, the more we know.

Note Your Mistakes and What They Mean

Everyone makes mistakes. It is human to err, and fumbling on a section or phrase is something all of us have done before. What is important, however, is whether you acknowledge and correct your mistakes. Stubbornly playing on when you realize it is wrong can have devastating problem as our brain memorizes the fault. This leads to us subconsciously playing the wrong way.

Pick and write down your mistakes and flaws. Don't be hesitant to correct yourself.

Memorize The Piece

This is not a step that must always be completed, but if you are planning to play for an audience it looks great to others if you have the piece memorized. Once you have practiced the piece many times, you will remember many parts of it anyway, so memorizing the entire thing shouldn’t be that difficult.

Your confidence as a piano player will build as you build your repertoire of pieces you can play from memory.

Reward Yourself

Once you have successfully learned a piece of music, reward yourself with something you like!

This can be anything within reason that makes you happy (I wouldn’t recommend buying a new car, for example, every time you finish a piece). Rewarding yourself in this way will help maintain your motivation to keep practicing.

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