Whether you are a beginner or an expert, in order to improve your skill of playing piano you need to effectively practice on a regular basis with consistent efforts. For making your practice sessions more effective, you would need make it more organized and disciplined. If the practice sessions are not pre-planned, it would rather be difficult to motivate yourself to regularly practice with dedication and commitment. Each day, you would need to dedicate some time, energy and efforts similar to what Olympics athletes do. Dedication is the only key to success as a pianist. Thus it is important for a pianist to know the direction and essence of practice and you will be able to maximize from your practice time.
Tips for Maximizing Piano Practice Sessions:
- Selecting your Teacher: You should look for a qualified professional piano teacher who would be able to guide and support you well. In order to locate a professional teacher in your locality, you can contact a professional body like Incorporated Society of Musicians. You will be able to find teachers who are expert in teaching piano to kids and there will be others who are trained for teaching adults. A teacher would encourage you whether you are a beginner or someone with prior knowledge of playing piano.
- Commitment is Key: Practicing regularly is important and you should not give excuses to skip practicing. You may be really tired or may not feel like practicing someday but don’t break your commitment and consistency. No matter what, spend the time for practicing as committed. Be consistent and regular. Trying to learn everything in one day and overdoing practice would not work but rather do it as regularly as possible and ideally everyday would be best if it is feasible for you.
- Pre-Plan: Learning to play piano is not simple, it has various aspects that you need to learn including scales, chords, learning by ear, sight reading and other technical aspects. So if you don’t plan your practice, you may end up wasting a lot of your time. The best idea is to concentrate and maintain a practice chart with tasks and lessons planned for each practice session. Make sure you organize your practice sessions at a place that is away from noise and other distractions. No phone calls should be attended during a practice session. Give your complete concentration to a piece that you are trying to learn in a practice session and stick to it.
- Proper Fingering Practice: Every time you practice, you should focus on your fingering and hand movements. Fingering that is proposed in lessons or books are just suggestions and it is possible that you may develop different fingering while playing a score opposed to the ones mentioned in printed sheets. Every time you practice, possibility is that you will stick with the same fingers and over time you will not need to remain conscious about it. Your fingers will automatically move to play a score. But this would happen over time with consistent practicing.
- Go Slow with Practice: Nothing can be attained overnight especially when it is about learning a skill, it would take time and the learning process would rather be slow and steady and in small sections. Similar is said for piano practicing and learning sessions. You would need to break your goals in to small sub-goals and sections and learn separately and slowly. Becoming an expert at playing a score or tune is all about correct practicing and repetition. Repeating certain bars or notes multiple times would make you more familiar with it and eventually your results will get better. As you will work and practice at a slow pace, you will be able to gain more comfortably. Try to become your own trainer.
- Correct any Wrong Habits before you ingrain them: As you try to play through a piece with the aim of learning quickly, you may end up playing some wrong notes. You may be adopting bad fingering, posture and other similar mistakes. As you will repeatedly make mistakes soon they will become your bad habits. Bad habits once developed are like bad foundations for your music and it may become really difficult or almost impossible to correct them at a later stage. This is why it is important to practice slowly and carefully as there will then be reduced chances of mistake. Even if you make mistake, correct it then and there and try to avoid it in future.
- Identify Areas of Trouble: In a musical piece or score, you may have some areas that become trouble areas. These areas in your musical piece must be marked and you would need to give some special attention to them and additional practice time. When you feel that you have completely mastered on these areas, you can remove markings and can continue with the score again. If these trouble areas become difficult to deal with during a practice session, you can take a break for some other activity and it may help. Every day your practice sessions should not begin with the beginning of a musical piece or otherwise you will end up being improved at the initial sections whereas endings may lack the charm. Rather break the piece in to small sections and every time begin from a different part.
- Goals should be Realistic: Setting goals for your piano practice session is important however these goals should be short-term as well as realistic. These goals would tell you what you want to achieve from a practice session. Your short-term goals may be session goals, week goals or others. Your short-term goals may also depend upon your ultimate goals such as you may be practicing for a piano exam or for a live performance or so on. So set your deadlines and goals accordingly.
- Step out of your Comfort Zone: Be an eye-opener to yourself and you must try and step out of your comfort zone. There may be areas and places that may be inspiring but you fear stepping in those zones just because you are not familiar or are not comfortable playing in that style or period. Don’t be an isolated musician rather be as versatile as you can and it will definitely prove rewarding at the end.