by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Here is Part 3 of a series offering my best tips for effective piano practice. Read Part 1 & 2 here:
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 1
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2
Why Zoning Out Won’t Get You Piano Progress
If you play through a musical passage while zoning out mentally, immersed instead in the enjoyment of the music, you will not advance your piano progress. When practicing piano, you must be vigilant about where you place your focus.
You must have a clear focus. Setting goals for your practice week and selecting a specified goal for each moment of your current piano practice session are the first steps to your piano progress.
In My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2, I walked you through the fundamental steps necessary for effective piano practice. As part of that process, you will sometimes need to stop playing the piano. As mentioned, there are two reasons to stop; you’ve either made a mistake or lost focus on your specific goal.
How To Evaluate Your Piano Performance
During and after you play your selected musical passage with a clear goal in mind, you must learn to evaluate your performance. Evaluate how you performed toward your chosen task.
An effective piano practice strategy required evaluation. You must play an active role in the constant problem state of getting your piano skills from your current level to the next. In other words, you must actively engage your thinking about your piano skills.
Your piano teacher will be of tremendous help in guiding you toward what specific things to be aware of concerning your current piano level. But you must be a proactive learner to gain consistent momentum in your piano progress.
Going back to your piano practice scenario, after you play through the selected passage, ask yourself,
“Did I successfully accomplish my goal?”
Be Proactively & Fully Engaged At The Piano
Check yourself carefully here:
If so, it was not a successful run-through, even if you made no mistakes!
You must be cognizant of what you are doing at the piano so that your mind and your physical muscles store the memory of your successful playing!
Many piano students (I’m guilty of this myself) develop the habit of playing something correctly yet without spending mental attention on the music. Regrettably, this often results in going completely blank when attempting to perform under out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. Sadly, this sometimes happens during a performance while experiencing stage fright symptoms.
It’s great that your physical muscles remember the music! But if you rely only on the physical memory alone without engaging your intellectual concentration, you risk having a complete memory lapse.
Back to checking yourself on whether you’ve played through the selected passage correctly:
In both these outcomes, making a mistake or losing mental concentration, you must return to the beginning and follow the practice strategy laid out in my blog, How To Achieve Your Most Effective Piano Practice in My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2.
When A Mistake Is NOT A Mistake
However, a word about mistakes. If you make a mistake that had nothing to do with your selected goal in mind, you can be flexible.
Let’s use the example of attempting to play the fingering correctly through a four-measure musical passage. If you played a wrong note, stopped the fluency of the beat, or played too softly when the dynamic marking indicates a louder dynamic but still played the correct fingering, any of those mistakes are not necessarily worth noting.
One Thing At A Time, Not Multi-Tasking
If you played the correct fingering despite those other mistakes, it’s a victory. You met your goal.
Especially for beginners, your ability to focus on one thing at a time while playing is the most critical practice habit.
After playing through the passage with correct fingering a few times, you could then select the next goal to include one of the things that tripped you up earlier, such as playing:
How To Assess The Problem
At this point of your piano practice routine, you’ve evaluated your attempt. You either were successful at the initial goal and have been able to play through correctly three times consecutively or, something went wrong.
Here is what you must think about:
Forge your ability to assess your piano performance and adjust yourself accordingly.
How To Choose Your Next Best Step
If you succeed with playing your chosen piano passage three times consecutively, then set your next goal. Look for something that gave you trouble. Pinpoint the issue. Set your new target of focus. Practice in the same manner as described.
Whatever challenges you or whatever you cannot successfully perform three times consecutively determines your next piano practice goal. Goals will also vary based on your piano skill level. Your previously established weekly or practice session goals will be your reference point for the next steps.
Typical piano-practicing goals could include playing through the passage:
Try to continue practicing each goal in this manner for as long as you can muster your concentration. When you begin to lose your ability to focus, remind yourself of your selected goal and reset to the starting point.
Unlock A New Approach
If you cannot keep your mind on things after a while or continue making the same mistakes it may be time for a break. Read my blog on effective piano practice, What To Do If You Keep Messing Up At The Piano!
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 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!
THANK YOU FOR SHARING this with a friend on social media or email!
Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning Ebook
My ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning, is a practical, down-to-earth, all-in-one resource and easy-to-read guide for anyone interested in starting or returning to piano lessons.
Get Everything You Need To Successfully Start Piano with my ebook, "Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning." My ebook is a practical, down-to-earth, all-in-one resource and easy-to-read guide for new or returning piano learners.
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 you need for a successful start to piano learning,
how to maintain your continued piano progress, and much more!
This ebook provides answers to those seeking a successful start or to build steady momentum for piano progress.
YOUR CREATIVE FLOW BONUS GIFT:
As my gift to you, with every purchase of my ebook, you'll automatically receive a FREE download of my original nature photo with a self-care affirmation for your creative flow. 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 as you continue on your journey for piano progress.
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I saw an online discussion where a piano teacher shared his view that practicing piano should feel like a struggle or be difficult. Though I see his point that no one will get much momentum from simply playing piano for pure enjoyment during every piano practice session, practicing piano does not need to be unenjoyable.
I know from experience that practicing piano can actually be fun, flow smoothly, and feel immensely gratifying as you make incremental musical progress.
You do not have to feel like piano practice should be difficult for you to make progress!
It is much more reasonable to know that the way you spend your piano practice leads directly (or not) to an enjoyable and fruitful experience. How to practice piano effectively is one of the most misunderstood topics for piano learners. But knowing how to practice makes all the difference in your levels of enjoyment, satisfaction, and piano progress.
You achieve these positive experiences when you approach your piano practice with clear goals and make a focused mental effort toward those goals. Reaching each of your musical goals will become an enormous boost to your positive feeling, self-esteem, and love for music learning.
Of course, making concentrated effort itself can be a constant struggle to develop and maintain. But doing so directly impacts your progress in piano practice.
Keeping the fun in piano practice depends on the goals set by you and your piano teacher and how you challenge yourself to achieve them. The specific step-by-step routes to reach each goal are where the variety of piano practice comes into play (Hee! Catch my musical pun?). There are plenty of ways to create an attitude of fun toward each piano practice goal.
You may incorporate a friendly piano competition, aiming for setting a record, making up various games, using piano or music apps for supplemental aid, and piano duets, group or masterclasses, and public performance target dates.
If you’re a beginner piano player, your piano teacher should be able to break your goals down into manageable chunks for daily piano practice. As you learn to stay focused on this kind of goal-directed piano practice, you’ll eventually be able to determine your own piano practice goals.
Typically, goal-setting in piano practice hones straight in on whatever part or aspect of the music is unknown or problematic for the piano student. Troubleshooting is one of the most effective ways to attack piano progress. And, that’s where some may interpret the difficulty of effective practicing lies.
Concentrating on learning something new or challenging takes effort. But our attitude toward making that effort is where the power of fun versus drudgery makes all the difference.
If you only play music that is simple, easy, and fun for you, your piano progress will stagnate. But you don’t have to be a martyr, either! Choose your most challenging goals to face at the start of your piano practice session (or immediately after a short warm-up). Give it your all.
At the end of your practice session, reward yourself by playing all the music you enjoy because you’ve already mastered it. If you consistently challenge the musical goals that force you to concentrate, think, and repeatedly practice, you will be surprised by your progress. Your reward repertoire at the end of each piano practice session will quickly expand.
Being able to play through a variety of musical works successfully is itself an incredible joy and accomplishment. But, to keep progressing, you must balance the rewards of playing something easy for you with your effort to challenge the next musical goal. That discipline is something that you will forge naturally over time if you choose your goals for each piano practice session and learn how to practice them effectively.
How to practice piano effectively is the main topic of my upcoming ebook, My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Effectively.
If you’re a new or returning piano learner, checkout my ebook, "Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning!"
Get my piano tips in my short video series!
Don't forget to show your awesome support by sharing/liking/retweeting the link! Subscribe for more updates!
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 1
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2
My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 3
What Do You Need To Know, Have, Or Do To Begin Piano?
Find A Good Piano Teacher
Your Top 5 Best Tips From A Piano Teacher
What’s The Best Way For A Busy Adult To Learn Piano?
What Keyboard Do I Need For Successful Piano Lessons?
How Learning Piano Benefits Aging Adults
Connect with YourCreativeChord on
Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and
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.