by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Wanna know if my upcoming revised book is a good fit for you?
My book is for you if:
Topics Covered In My Book:
Does my book teach you how to play the piano?
My book gives an overview of everything you need to start piano with the best foundation prepared for your piano-playing success. This book does not include the specifics of how to play the piano in a step-by-step lesson format.
However, I do cover critical basics on how to practice piano for the most progress. My upcoming book, How To Effectively Practice Piano, will provide a more detailed strategy for practicing piano effectively.
Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning shows you how to set up everything you need for successful, lasting piano-playing progress.
Through teaching piano for more than 30 years, I found that those who had these elements prepared and maintained throughout piano study enjoyed the most consistent and successful piano progress.
Many people were frustrated by piano lessons before studying with me. They did not yet know about the things I covered in my book. Sharing these helpful ideas with more people is a major motivating factor for writing my book.
Why Should You Buy My Book When You Can Search Online?
There’s a wealth of info available online. Unfortunately, it takes a big chunk of time to sort through to find something applicable to you. Even if you luck upon something that applies to your unique learning situation, the source may not be qualified to help you in the best way.
I have posted blogs about many of the topics I cover in my book. But you can save time and get my organized, more in-depth, all-in-one resource at your fingertips when you buy my book.
🎈I Show You How To Start Piano For Successful Life-Long Learning!
You are getting lessons gleaned from my 30 years of experience in successful piano and music teaching, piano playing, and as a piano-based music composer. My book also contains strategies and information I use within my personal piano practice sessions and musical journey.
Read the blog version here.
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Busy adults need support for overcoming obstacles to make piano progress. Watch my Tuesday PIANO TIPS REPLAY some inspiring thoughts to help you get excited and keep going at the piano!
Get what you need for successful piano learning and effective piano practice.
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I enjoyed practicing piano as a college student and when I was a performing pianist/vocalist. But, like most adults, I have a lot less time now than I did in my younger days.
I have struggled with maintaining my piano practice routine since college. My full-time job as a music educator and my responsibilities as a community volunteer left me with much less time and energy for piano practice. Maintaining piano progress as a returning piano learner now while juggling my online creative business and caregiving tasks for my elder parent takes effort.
I also have two high-maintenance cats; one is more than 20 and needs a lot of help, the other is six and eats everything in sight—including my older cat’s allotted food if I’m not vigilant!
Throw in a social life, family events, the pandemic’s complications, household chores, and the inevitable emergencies that all adults contend with, and piano progress gets significantly more challenging.
But if you’re anything like me, you’re well aware that piano learning has incredible wellness benefits for adults. Gaining the most from your piano practice routine is a critical piece of a successful piano-learning journey.
Today’s piano tips will help you stop struggling and show you How To Make Successful Musical Progress With Your Piano Practice Routine.
Nine Keys (heh) Toward A Solid Piano Practice Routine
1. Find your best time. For me, it is morning before work and family time. Before bedtime, I also squeeze in a little bit more time to run through pieces I’ve practiced earlier in the day or to sightread new material.
2. Write it down. Schedule it. If you don’t pencil it in, it doesn’t happen. Writing it or scheduling it in your calendar makes it a priority.
3. Make it a daily habit. 🦷 🍳 Keep it in your regular daily routine. Consistency builds!
4. Set up your practice area in advance. I set up my music area right before bed so that it’s ready for my morning practice routine. Having things already set up makes it easier to get started!
5. Create a practice plan. Things to include: Warmups/technique, new musical pieces chunked into sections, specific goals, reward music.
After a warmup, I aim to first practice new material or things that I need to improve. Whatever needs the most work. Using my best brainpower and energy on the hard stuff first gives me more momentum and progress.
6. Choose 1(+) musical piece as a reward. AFTER I work on the most demanding stuff, I reward myself with my favorite music or something I’ve already learned to play with ease.
Or I improvise something. Whatever gives my brain a short break and my heart a juicy reward.
7. Visibly (& otherwise) reward yourself with a weekly practice tracker. ✅ 🍭 A piano practice tracker is SUPER helpful; It helps you stay on track and gives you a well-deserved emotional boost when you see your progress! It also helps motivate you to keep going!
Set a goal to practice 5 or 7 days weekly. Once you achieve that goal, reward yourself with a special treat. A dessert, a new CD, new piano sheet music, or a lunch with creative friends to celebrate!
8. Get accountability. Learning piano can be such a lonely activity. Connecting with other piano learners, piano experts, or simply having a practice pact with someone helps keep you accountable.
Join my New & Returning Piano Learners Facebook Group and use this supportive community as your accountability partner.
UNTIL SUNDAY NIGHT, CATCH MY FREE PIANO MASTERCLASS REPLAYS HERE!
My last piano tip for you is one of the most impactful....
9. Use my 5-min rule on rough days:
Just sit at your piano keyboard for 5 minutes.
Or play a scale or the piano part for the right hand (or the left hand) for 5 minutes.
Or, try to figure out the key signature or chords.
Or, listen to a good recording of a piece you’re learning while you look at the notation.
Or, look at your musical score.
Or just listen.
Aim to practice the piano at least 5 minutes every day. This keeps your momentum top of mind in your brain and your physical muscle memory.
Recap of my 9 Keys Toward A Solid Piano Practice Routine
Click the button below to join and get your piano playing momentum rolling!
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 how to practice the piano 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.