by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
My revised ebook, Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning, is available on Amazon from TOMORROW, MAY 16TH!
My revised ebook answers new and returning piano learners' most common and recurring questions. Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning ebook is perfect for:
Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning ebook
goes live on Amazon TOMORROW, MAY 16TH!
SPREAD THE WORD:
Please spread the word to anyone who might want to start or return to the piano.
YOUR REVIEW HELPS BOOST VISIBILITY!
Please drop an ebook review within the next few days if you purchase! You can leave a review by purchasing my ebook and leaving your thoughts on the ebook's content on Amazon.
Reviews help boost my ebook's visibility. Even if you have a few reservations about what my ebook covers, your honest review can really help get my ebook in front of more wannabe piano players who need the answers inside the ebook!
Thank you in advance for sharing my ebook with those who will benefit from what I've learned as a piano teacher, performer, and composer in my 30-year music career.
If you have yet to decide whether to start playing the piano--this ebook is what you need to motivate yourself toward the joyful experience of piano playing!
See you on the piano bench!
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
If you follow my piano practice blog series, you know my strategy for how you should spend time at the piano for the most effective progress.
If you missed those, check out: 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, where I walk you through my effective piano practice strategy in detail.
Continuing in your piano practice routine, you should practice each goal in this manner (as described in previous blogs above) for as long as you can muster your fully focused effort. Repeat the same practice process with your next goal. Aim for successfully playing through several times in a row.
Stop if you make a mistake. Stop when you lose mental concentration. Remind yourself of your selected goal and reset back to the start.
If you become unable to keep your mind on things after a while or continue making the same mistakes, it may be time for a change. Now you must learn What To Do If You Keep Messing Up At The Piano!
Starting anew without success after multiple attempts means you are either; a) doing something to block your progress or b) you need a break to refresh yourself. If you simply did not achieve your goal, in addition to stopping and returning to the beginning, you must change your approach.
Take A Closer Look At The Problem
When I choose a specific practice goal but continue having problems getting through the music successfully, I take a step back. By that I mean to take a closer look at the problem section. Analyze the trouble spot, looking for clues about what is tripping you up. Analyzing sometimes reveals a less obvious practice goal you must focus on before moving on to your previously selected goal. In other words, you have taken on too much at once. Bite off only what you can chew, one morsel at a time.
How do you find the trouble to know what to practice? Ask yourself questions relevant to your music and piano playing level. If you are a beginner, you may ask;
If you are more advanced, you must ask questions relative to your level, too.
Troubleshooting As A Target
These are simply examples of questions. Look at your music specifically to break things down, one issue or item at a time, deducing where, within the music, you are one-hundred percent confident you mastered each aspect of your analysis.
When you find a point where you are struggling to focus or answer a question, you have found a trouble spot! An effective piano practice routine constantly involves this kind of reflection and then zeroing in to practice only that section or areas that cause any issues.
How you spend your mental energy during your piano practice session determines what you accomplish in piano progress. When you push yourself to be more conscientious of each moment and every phrase of your musical assignments, you will reap huge rewards with advancement as a musician.
But what if you have gone through this intense effort and you are still having issues? I know how frustrating that may be, but two solutions usually resolve any trouble areas.
Play It Slower, Sam
Most commonly, the solution to the problem is a slower tempo. Your next best step would be to stay focused on your initial goal but play through your musical section at a much-reduced speed. Playing music at a slower than usual tempo is often the most challenging kind of practice.
Most people think that fast is impressive. Quite the opposite is true. The ability to play fast can be spectacular. But, often piano players of fast musical passages easily find themselves falsely relying on physical muscle memory. As mentioned earlier, this is like a fragile house of cards!
Sometimes you make the mistake of relying solely on your muscle memory to play through musical passages. But that kind of false scaffolding is stripped away when you slow the tempo.
Practicing at a slow tempo forces us to use our cognitive skills and tune in to refine our kinesthetic senses. This intensely focused practice can feel like having the training wheels of a bicycle removed. We start off wobbly and lacking confidence or balance.
When you slow the tempo, you allow yourself enough space in your brain to be fully mindful of each practice goal, whether it is the notes, rhythm, fingering, dynamics, or all these combined. Play slowly enough you can completely master each aspect of the music. Be focused on whichever goals you have chosen to practice. You will gradually come away from piano practice with a deeper internal and physical grasp of the music.
But playing music that is familiar to us at a deliberately slower tempo can also cause us to trip up. Making mistakes is, even more, the basis for the argument to slow your playing tempo. Thoroughly choose and focus on one practice goal at a time until you master each one of your selected goals.
Underwater Slow Motion Effect
One of the biggest problems with slowing down is that you have developed bad habits of playing at a tempo too fast. This tempo sticks in your aural memory as well as your physical muscles. The aforementioned makes for another challenging barrier to get through. Avoid developing additional barriers by practicing slow enough that you can mentally focus.
Look at your music through a new lens. Go to the extreme with your imagination. Pretend you are playing through the musical phrase as if you are in an underwater film scene using a slow-motion effect.
Yes. That slow. Play intentionally and dramatically slower than the slowest tempo you can feel. Exaggerate your slowest tempo.
If you find it hard to keep the beat at that new tempo, set the metronome at the most ridiculously slowest tempo you can feel. Play the music along with the metronome. If necessary, count aloud before you play, first clapping out or tapping the rhythm on your legs. Then, using the metronome, play through the musical selection with this tempo.
Once you can sense the steady beat of this willfully chosen slow speed, go back through the passage following your effective piano practice routine. Stop if you make a mistake or lose mental concentration. Aim again to play at this slow tempo correctly three times in a row.
Discovering Your Musical Weaknesses
Playing slowly in this manner will reveal problem areas you had not discovered while playing at a faster tempo. Even better, playing slowly will allow you to more deeply and solidly master previously chosen practice goals. This kind of practice brings you much more quickly to the cognitive engagement necessary for lasting piano progress.
Why? Because you are finally going slow enough to allow yourself fully conscious and consistent thinking toward your chosen practice goals. You may have thought you already surpassed this level of practice at your faster tempo. But the majority of the time, practicing at a slow tempo will take you further and, ironically, faster in piano progress.
What To Do If You Keep Messing Up At The Piano
If you cannot keep your mind on things after a while, it may be time for a break. You cannot sustain prolonged and intensely concentrated effort for long. Especially if you just started using this piano practice technique.
When you hit a plateau, lose your ability to pay attention to your set goals, or repeatedly make mistakes, it is perfectly normal and advisable to take a break. Your brain needs a moment to refresh.
You could choose to play through something without concentrating, just for the enjoyment of it. Choose something at a much easier sight-reading level, a previously mastered piece, or improvise for the sheer fun of it.
Play It Again, Sam
After you take a short break, try again with renewed determination. You may find a burst of energy that helps you continue your intentional, slow-tempo practice. You may already notice a degree of improvement, fluency, muscle recall, or musicality emerging! Incremental progress is a fabulous experience, bringing a joyful sense of accomplishment and newfound confidence as a piano player.
Enjoy that! It will keep happening, again and again, each time you challenge yourself to give your all mentally to your piano practice sessions.
If you experience the opposite, cannot play without making errors, or can no longer focus on the practice goal at a slow tempo, you may need to leave the piano for a change of pace, scenery, a meal, drink, or even rest.
CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORY
Celebrate and acknowledge your efforts no matter what! Each day, each hour, each moment that you aim to forge your complete focus on piano practice in the way I described in this series is an incredible accomplishment! You make progress step by step, sometimes without realizing until you look back and see how far you have come in your musical skills!
I would love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful. 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 are a piano teacher, please feel free to leave one of your favorite piano practice tips in the comment section!
Annnnnd...if you loved this blog, don't forget to show your awesome support by sharing/liking/retweeting the link! Subscribe for more updates!
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Did you know that playing piano improves your wellness?
Learning piano benefits both adults and children. From physical health, to slowing the aging process, improving cognitive and problem-solving skills, to improved mood and reducing stress, research has proven the benefits of piano study no matter what age you start.
Click the video above for Tip #4 and learn how piano playing helps your hearing, thinking, and emotional well-being!
If you're interested in starting piano, checkout my new short video series for quick and easy, actionable tips--something you can use immediately to bring you closer to your goal of piano learning.
Each short video offers a nugget of valuable knowledge for you to apply toward a solid, productive musical learning experience.
My video tips summarize the useful and much more in-depth information from my ebook, "Start Piano: What You Need For Successful Learning!"
My ebook has answers to every question you have about starting piano.
CLICK BELOW to learn more and get ALL you need to start playing piano the right way!
TIPS FOR LEFT & RIGHT HAND COORDINATION
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Learn to play piano with both hands based on a single-minded focus on goal-oriented, multi-step tasks. Approaching piano practice in this manner has proven highly effective for me.
One Hand Only
For example, choose one hand to work on at a time. Isolate the bass part in the left hand. Then, break down your left hand practice into feasible chunks; work on only playing the correct notes for example.
Practice the left hand part while fully focusing on the first selected goal (correct notes). Don’t worry about the rhythm, the fingering or any other aspect other than what you’ve chosen to focus on practicing (correct notes).
After you play through the section with full focus on that one goal, stop and evaluate. If successful at playing that particular section with no hesitation, move on to the next goal and repeat the process.
Multiply Your Focus
Then add the first two goals together (correct notes and rhythm) and practice that until you are able to play through successfully without any hesitation. Add the third goal, and so on.
Repeat Procedure With Opposite Hand
Switch to the opposite hand and repeat the process of focusing only on one goal at a time, stopping to evaluate, then repeating until you master each section and goal. Then repeat until you are successfully able to master multiple focus goals with the musical section chosen for that hand.
Put Both Hands Together
Finally, choose a small section, one goal (correct notes) and play both hands together. Do not jump to this part of practice until everything prior to this point has been successfully mastered. The same process applies when practicing hands together.
If you make mistakes, stop immediately and evaluate why, then go back and practice until that issue is resolved. For example, if you played through a few measures correctly and then made mistakes, determine what happened. Usually the problem is that mentally you dropped the ball. Were you daydreaming about lunch? Were you distracted by someone walking past your window?
Go back to the trouble spot and refresh your single-minded focus on the practice aspects you’ve chosen. Once you achieve success, play through a larger section, or the entire musical composition. Be sure to apply the exact same practice strategy and address any mistakes immediately.
Otherwise, you may make the common mistake of practicing your mistakes repeatedly, ingraining them further into your mental memory and making things more difficult to correct. This is how many students typically practice and defeat progress!
One Last Note (heh heh)
Practicing piano with clear goals, one hundred percent mental focus, evaluation and troubleshooting issues is an incredibly effective way to progress as a piano player. However, if you run into difficulty, besides lack of focus on a particular goal, the most common culprit for difficulty in piano practice is practicing too fast!
If you are having problems with the above-described practice strategy, SLOW DOWN and try again! Most of the time, slowing the tempo resolves the problem.
Many students have difficulty slowing their practice tempo. Use a metronome to set a defined, slower tempo. This enables you to reset your pace at a manageable speed. When you slow down, it allows you to master your goal of choice without repeatedly making mistakes due to a faster tempo.
If you are still having problems slowing down, change your mindset about tempo. Students often are deluded that a faster tempo is equal to mastery. The opposite is more accurate. Playing purposefully at a slower tempo while focusing fully on one specific goal takes greater concentration, discipline and patience.
Make setting a slower tempo an exciting new mission, to frame your attitude around it. Practice deep breathing in sync with your metronome as you set your inner pace with the new, slower tempo. Envision yourself playing under water in slow motion as a fun way to switch gears from playing faster to embracing a slower pace. From there, it can be amazing to see how simple and easy it is for you to master your chosen practice goal.
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!
THANK YOU FOR SHARING this with a friend on social media or email!
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
What To Do About Piano Practice When You Have An Injury
Learning To Be Creative
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.