Spice up your Piano Practice – for busy adults

Most adults going who return to learning piano after nearly a lifetime way, will most likely be studying on their own. You probably know how to read music and have taken years of lessons in classical piano with various teachers (some you liked, others you hated) in the past.

Here are some ideas on how it might be possible to spice up your practice on your return to the piano.
First look for a teacher who will keep you motivated and help you grow as a musician, not someone who nitpicks
Whoever you choose should focus on what you want to do, which is to play music to the best of your abilities, not aim for some unattainable standard that you can never hope to reach in your lifetime. They should also not be a pure technocrat focusing solely on what you’re not doing right.

 

If you can have lessons once a week, then go for it otherwise every other week interspersed with regular practice is just as helpful.
Now let’s say you are able to practice 3 times a week for 1 hour each day. Here is an idea for what to do on those days:

 

Day 1
  1. Begin with finger exercises. Hanon, Czerny, scales, arpeggios, chords, etc. – 10 minutes
  2. Next work on a difficult part of a piece that you’re learning. Discipline yourself to work on it slowly throughout – 20 minutes
  3. Reward yourself with doing something easier and fun – 20 minutes
  4. Return to the difficult section to see if you’ve remembered anything (don’t expect to retain it all – there’ll still be stubbon mistakes that crop up) – 5 minutes
  5. Finish on on a gentle finger warm down like simple scales – 5 minutes
Day 2
  1. Sight read something basic, even below your level. It doesn’t have to be a whole piece, in fact a couple of lines will do. Just see how you get on. This gets your mind active and working straight away. It also trains your brain to problem solve when you least feel like it (most practice usually starting with either warm ups or your favourite music) – 5 to 10 minutes
  2. Warm up finger exercies. – 10 minutes
  3. Continue with the difficult passage. This time drill deeper into it by tackling the problem in question by saying it OUT LOUD. For example, if your challenge is awkward fingering, say the fingers aloud while you play the section very slowly. Same goes for if the difficulty is in reading the notes/rhythm etc. Saying what you are doing aloud (as opposed to just thinking it) will direct your attention better – 20 minutes
  4. Finish on a high with your favourite piece or something fun – 20 minutes
Day 3 
  1. Add some variety to your finger warm ups by balancing a pencil/coin on the back of your hand, then playing with your eyes closed  – 10 minutes
  2. This time, before playing the difficult passage you’ve been working on, visualise it. Then play. Repeat. Add a few more bars if you feel confident enough to progress further. Also, make a written note of what you like/are happy with NO MATTER HOW SMALL. – 20 minutes
  3. Play your fun piece in different ways, e.g. mix the dynamics up so it’s suddenly loud then soft and vice verca. ‘Swing’ the beat, speed up then slow down etc. Mess around a little with areas you’re more fluent it. – 20 minutes
  4. Finish by playing scales/the melody of your favorite song, while singing/humming. If possible, tap your feet. – 10 minutes
At the end of the week, play something (scale, or part of the piece you’re working on) to another person, friend/family etc. Do it just to get used to having eyes on you.

 

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