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.
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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
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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.