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 a difficult experience. Though I see his point that no one will get much momentum from simply playing piano for pure enjoyment during every piano practice session, I don’t agree that practicing piano must be unenjoyable.
I know from experience that practicing piano can actually be fun, can flow smoothly, and feel immensely gratifying as incremental musical progress is made.
You don’t have to feel like piano practice has to be difficult in order for you to make progress!
Rather, it's 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.
These positive experiences are achieved when you approach your piano practice with clear goals and make a focused mental effort to achieve those goals. Reaching your 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 provides the greatest progress in piano practice.
Keeping the fun in piano practice depends on the goals you and your piano teacher set, and how you challenge yourself to achieve them. The specific routes to achieve each goal is where the variety of piano practice comes into play (ha ha!). What I mean by that is 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 of course, that’s where some may interpret the difficulty lies.
Concentrating on learning something new or challenging takes effort. But our attitude toward making the effort is where the power of fun versus drudgery makes all the difference.
If you only play things that are 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. You’ll be surprised that over time, if you consistently challenge the musical goals that force you to concentrate, think, and repeatedly practice, your reward repertoire at the end of each piano practice session will expand quickly.
Being able to play through a variety of musical works successfully is itself an incredible joy and accomplishment. But you must learn to balance the rewards of playing something that’s easier for you with the effort needed to challenge the next musical goal. That discipline is something that will naturally be forged 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 new ebook, What You Need To Know, Have & Do To Start Piano Right!
Watch my short videos below that summarize the piano tips from my new ebook:
Tip #1 from the ebook What You Need To Know, Have & Do To Start Piano Right!
Tip #2 from the ebook What You Need To Know, Have & Do To Start Piano Right!
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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
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By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
This is Part 1 of a series offering my best tips on how to practice piano.
For all these scenarios, I have some useful suggestions.
Why Should You Believe I Know How To Make Piano Progress?
I’ve taught piano for more than half my life. Piano is a way that I best express myself, whether through performance or my original compositions.
I performed as a pianist (and vocalist) and owned a private piano teaching studio for 25 years. I taught group piano (Musikgarten methodology) to kids from 5 to 11, too!
If you’re interested in checking out my piano-based original music, or looking for proof to believe me when I say I know how to make piano progress, go to: JLMusicStudio.com
Or have a listen to: My Piano Performance of Clair De Lune.
Why Does Your Piano Practice Make You Feel Like A Loser?
I know from my early piano practice sessions what it feels like to be overwhelmed, or stuck, or frustrated by a particular musical challenge. I was familiar with spending chunks of fruitless time at piano, not being able to accomplish something.
I’d practice musical passages, scales, etudes, fingering, rhythmic patterns, or dynamics relentlessly and repetitively, only to hear myself play the same mistake after mistake.
I’ve had some great piano teachers, though, and one of them was quite instrumental (What? A musical pun here?) in teaching me how to make progress with learning piano. I finally learned how to practice piano effectively.
I’ve seen this dilemma from both sides. Having taught piano and music for 25+ years, I’ve met many piano students who felt overwhelmed by piano practice.
I’ve had students come to me with angst from their lack of progress with former piano teachers.
I’ve had adults come to me with feeble hopes after quitting piano lessons as a child.
I’ve had teenagers joining my studio initially complain that piano was boring and they couldn’t get any better at it.
How To Practice Piano With Confidence
I learned to practice piano effectively. My private piano students overcame issues with getting stuck or insufficient progress, too. They succeeded because the driving point I taught in each piano lesson was how to practice piano effectively.
Do You Know Where The Musical Magic Really Happens?
First, you need to know that the magic never happens in the piano lesson. You will not be illuminated musically by exposure to the brilliance of your piano teacher. Sorry, no unicorns here.
Piano improvement comes directly from the student.
You, as the piano student, or you as the parent of the piano student, are the key to continuous piano progress. The piano student has full responsibility for developing piano skills. Having that self-motivation is 90% of the musical betterment battle.
Of course, a quality piano instructor will be critically helpful as an experienced guide on your musical journey. A good piano teacher can inspire your consistent piano progress. Your piano teacher can help you avoid mistakes or break habits that stunt your piano development.
Your piano teacher can use your strengths to help you advance more dynamically, or help you polish your weaknesses into tools for improvement. But the real result is up to the piano student. Not the teacher.
If that has fully sunk into your brain, now you are ready for my piano practice tips!
Please first take a look at these blogs if you are just beginning piano:
What Do You Need To Know, Have, Or Do To Begin Piano?
What Keyboard Do I Need For Successful Piano Lessons?
How To Find A Good Piano Teacher
Necessary Steps To Achieve Your Most Effective Piano Practice
Having read through the blogs above, hopefully you’ve found a great piano teacher, have a quality instrument or a plan to upgrade to one, and have sorted out a regular practice routine that is supported by those in your home. Now you must begin to establish an effective piano practice strategy that produces progress within your regular practice sessions.
In my next blogs of this series, My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2 & My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 3, I walk you through my effective piano practice strategy in detail.
Why You Need To Choose A Goal Relevant For Your Level
Before you begin toward your daily piano practice routine, you will need to define the goals you will concentrate on. As you read through these piano practice tips, it will become evident that your goals will change and develop as you practice. Choosing and changing goals helps keep your interest and promotes the greatest progress while practicing piano.
The most critical part that will vary from student to student, or from one practice session to the next, is choosing relevant practice goals. The goals you select depend on your level of musicianship, and will vary from beginner to advanced levels of piano skill.
Beginner to intermediate level piano students will typically have a few piano goals assigned by their piano teacher to achieve before the next piano lesson. As you advance in piano proficiency, you’ll be able to use more self-volition in selecting appropriate piano goals.
As you advance, and with the guidance from your piano teacher, you’ll learn the art of narrowing your focus to what goals are necessary for your current piano playing level.
Before you begin, you must determine your specific goals for each piano practice session. You’ll need to break your weekly goals down into smaller, digestible chunks. Either using what your piano teacher has offered, or devising your own, make a list of targeted piano practice goals you will work on during your piano practice session.
In the next blog, I will offer a few examples of relevant piano practice goals.
Checkout next steps in my effective piano practice strategy in My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 2, & My Best Tips On How To Practice Piano Part 3.
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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Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning 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 Successfully Start Piano With My Ebook, "Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning" 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.
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.