by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
The quote in the above headline is from percussionist/composer, Joshua Sohn, of Salt Lake City, Utah, after he read my new ebook, What You Need To Know, Have & Do To Start Piano Right!
I appreciated getting this feedback from a fellow composer/musician because this is exactly what I intended my ebook to provide!
Through my 30-year piano teaching career, I’ve taught countless students who initially came to me without a clue about what’s really necessary for piano success. They didn’t know how to prepare for their lessons, much less what kind of instrument to use, or how to practice piano for developing their musical skills.
Fortunately, as their piano teacher, I was able to guide them on all these points until my students created a healthy physical and instrumental setup, practice routine and strategy.
The majority of my students acquired consistent musical improvement, and developed the confidence to perform regularly in recitals and group classes. More importantly, their confidence, from understanding how to practice effectively with a healthy physical and instrumental setup gave them tremendous joy.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR PIANO SUCCESS
Sadly, most people who want to start playing piano don’t really know what’s most critical to setup for successful piano learning.
I often see teens and adults online who futilely hunt for quick tricks, flashy apps, or follow glamorous video tutorials to start their musical path. Unfortunately, these folks quickly lose their enthusiasm, as these gimmicks often prove to be short-lived entertainment rather than a fool-proof method to advance musically.
I watch the initial excitement of these potential piano players fade, as they unfortunately develop poor piano technique, weak or painful fingers and hands, increased frustration due to the lack of a qualified instructor’s guidance. They also typically have a keyboard setup that’s inadequate for piano skill development, and no understanding for practicing piano effectively.
Regrettably, there are folks claiming to be piano teachers, whether online or locally, who don’t actually offer a solid foundation for piano beginners. This is why many adults return to piano much later in life, wishing to start again. This is why I’ve met many adults who were confused about the absolute basics necessary for steady piano progress. This is why many young teens give up too soon, thinking they’re not capable or musical.
Whether you want to try learning piano for the first time in your life, return to the piano after a long gap, or explore setting up piano lessons for your child, my new ebook has “everything you need to know before starting piano.”
My new ebook covers the things any new piano learner needs to consider for successfully starting piano:
My new ebook offers you practical guidance on what and how to take action toward getting your piano journey started successfully.
Everything in my ebook comes from my experience as a piano teacher, and from my own journey as a professional pianist and composer of piano-based music. I put “everything you need to know before starting piano” in my ebook to take all the guesswork and mystery out of the process for you.
I wrote this ebook so that people like you can start your piano learning story with confidence. When you read my ebook, you’ll know how to get everything setup properly as a solid foundation of support for you to enjoy achieving success as a piano player.
GET MY NEW EBOOK! 👇
What You Need To Know, Have & Do To Start Piano Right! Ebook
A practical, down-to-earth, all-in-one resource and easy-to-read guide for anyone interested in getting started or returning to piano lessons.
As my gift to you, with every purchase of my ebook, you'll automatically receive a FREE download of my original photo with a self-care affirmation.
Get Everything You Need To Start Piano With My Ebook, "What You Need To Know, Have & Do To Start Piano Right!" A practical, down-to-earth, all-in-one resource and easy-to-read guide for anyone interested in getting started or returning to piano lessons. Topics include what kind of keyboard is necessary, how to find a quality instrument and piano method, whether you need and how to find a good piano teacher, whether online tools for piano learning are valuable, what’s needed for a successful start to piano learning, and how to maintain continued piano progress. This ebook provides answers to those seeking a successful start or greater momentum for piano progress.
As my gift to you, with every purchase of my ebook, you'll automatically receive a FREE download of my original photo with an affirmation. The affirmation poster is completely free to download, print, use as a desktop wallpaper or screensaver for your computer.
The beauty of nature and positive words brings inspiration. We all need reminders. May this small gift of beauty and positive thought remind you of your immense potential for creative energy and inspire you to tap into your best self.
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
These are a few things that I have done over the years as a pianist and they have worked well to improve my technique and keep dexterity and fluency in my fingers.
One of the most critical things you can do to improve your technique is practice it consistently. In other words, practice every single day. Do not miss a day. Even if you can only play for five minutes, do not miss a day.
Another critical aspect is to practice effectively. See more detail and tips on that here.
How Much Technique
If you have two hours to practice daily, start with the idea of one hour of technique practice per day. The second hour spent on actual repertoire makes sense toward decent progress. During your piano technique practice, incorporate scales, etudes and other exercises such as those found in a good Hanon exercise book.
Scales, Accents and Varying Accents
Start learning all major and minor scales in 4 octaves. Play around with the rhythm patterns of the scales. For example, try playing a scale using the rhythm pattern of straight quarter note rhythms. Then accent the first beat (quarter note) as you play all four octaves of a scale. Then play the scale again (or another scale) as you alternate the accent to the second beat, then to the third beat, then the fourth beat as you play through each scale.
Use Varied Rhythmic Patterns
Use alternating rhythms; i.e., play your scales using the rhythm pattern of a dotted eighth note followed by a 16th note. Then switch to the rhythm pattern of a 16th note followed by a dotted eighth note. Then try an eighth note followed by two 16 notes. Then reverse that to two 16th notes followed by an eighth note.
Use Varying Accents
For each of the previous rhythm patterns, place an accent on the first note of each pattern. Then alternate the accent to fall on the second note of the rhythm pattern, creating a syncopated feel. Then, accent the third note of the rhythm pattern, and so on.
Try using a triplet rhythm pattern, placing an accent on the first note of each triplet pattern. Then accent the second note, then the third note of each triplet pattern as you play a four-octave scale.
Choose some of these varying rhythm patterns for your four-octave scale practice. Use a metronome at a very slow tempo and focus on very clearly articulating each of those accented notes within the rhythmic patterns with relaxed hand placement and curved finger-tips. As you get more fluent, speed up the tempo.
Another idea is to use the above rhythms and accents at the same tempo adding dynamics. For example, start your scale at fortissimo and as you play your scale going up the keyboard, decrescendo until you are playing pianissimo at the high range of the keyboard. Then reverse those dynamics.
Or play the entire ascending scale passage fortissimo then alternate when you descend by playing the entire descending scale passage at the dynamic level of pianissimo. Change the dynamic levels to whatever you’d like, incorporating crescendo, decrescendo, piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, forte, and so on.
For more practice tips, visit my Pinterest Piano Practice Tips board.
I’d love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful and empowers you. Please take a moment to join the conversation below to let me know if this blog is helpful to you, or if you have questions or suggestions!
If you’re a piano teacher, feel free to leave one of your favorite piano practice tips in the comment section!
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Learning To Be Creative
Listen to my original piano music here.
In my PIANO blogs, you'll find ways to overcome boredom, get past musical and mental blocks, explore the creative process with piano, and improve musical progress through piano teacher recommended best practices and effective piano practice tips.