Need some ideas for great piano practice?
Feeling a bit restless at the bench, like your practice could use a little inspiration?
Want to move your practice times from good to great?
Here are some ideas designed to help you thrive at the piano.
Experiment! Everyone -- including you -- is unique!
My goal is to help you find the smoothest path to great piano playing, and to enjoy yourself while you're learning!
Great Piano Practice Ideas
Weird advice on a piano practice page, eh?
When it comes to practicing, you need energy and the ability to focus.
There's just no substitute for your body having everything it needs to do the job you're asking it to do.
Eat a good snack or meal (not chips!) with some good protein and whole grain carbohydrates. Also, drink some water and stay hydrated.
Nothing can make a person crankier than low blood sugar, which is what happens when your body uses up all the fuel you gave it at your last meal -- and you start to get hungry.
Aside from crankiness, you might also feel tired, unmotivated, lightheaded, or you might develop a headache, any of which makes focus and concentration difficult.
Many of my students have never considered how nutrition and timing of meals affect practice and performance.
The truth is, what you eat and when you eat profoundly affect how you feel (physically AND emotionally) and how you learn.
If you eat junk food, skip meals, keep yourself awake with copious amounts of caffeine and sugar, you aren't setting yourself up for success when you sit down at the piano.
If you doubt this, keep a detailed food journal for a week, complete with how you feel at various points in the day. Be completely honest, and you will look back and see patterns you never realized.
It just might be the key to taking your practice from "just OK" to GREAT!
Check your posture!
Here's the rundown:
Poor posture ---> Tension ---> Limited technique ---> Possible Injury ---> Reduced Endurance ---> Frustration
Actually, you could insert frustration at any point in the above chain of events.
Do a posture check for great piano practice! Need help?
There is an excellent article at The Well Balanced Pianist on correct posture at the piano. Complete with pictures of men, women, and children at the piano -- with both "before" and "after" photos, as corrections were made both to bench height and on the floor.
It's a must read.
If you take lessons, your teacher will work with your posture at the piano at the studio, but you spend the bulk of your time at your home piano. It's vital that your body is aligned properly to prevent repetitive stress injuries as you play.
Make a plan!
Making a practice plan can be an amazing tool for great piano practice.
It can be as simple as sitting down at the piano, deciding how long you're going to practice, and what you'll be working on -- giving each task a certain amount of time.
Or your plan could be as complex as laying out goals for the week, month, or quarter, breaking down your goals into bite-size pieces, and laying out daily practice assignments.
Either way, you've set goals for your playing.
Also, you'll find it easier to get through your least-favorite practicing when you've given it a definite slice of time.
For instance, "OK, I'm going to spend 7 minutes on my F# major scale. Those sharps make me crazy, but I can do anything for 7 minutes."
The alternative, "I have to practice F# major until I make some progress," can feel endless and overwhelming. But 7 minutes a day for a week?
That adds up to progress! :-)
By the way... have you joined any piano forums yet? They're great places to find information and new ideas -- including how others plan and practice.
Know when to stop!
There's a point in a great piano practice where you know it's time to stop.
Maybe you start noticing fatigue, or a telltale ache in your hand is telling you you've developed a bit of tension. Maybe you're making mistakes in places where normally you sail through. Maybe everything on your music rack seems dull and uninspiring.
All signs of "enough!"
If you start paying attention to your body and mind, you'll learn to recognize your own best stopping point.
Learning to stop (or at least take a break) can completely change your practice. Why?
If you habitually play until you're exhausted, or frustrated, or both, you're leaving the piano in a less-than-positive mental space. Think about that for a second.
Are those feelings of exhaustion and frustration making you eager to sit at the piano the next time you need to practice?
But if you learn to recognize when to stop, you'll be able to end your practice time energized and happy, which will help you in whatever you do next, as well as the next time you sit down to play.