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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Piano Practice Can Be Enjoyable!

Piano Practice

Like any other worthwhile activity in life, piano practicing demands a certain amount of discipline. This discipline produces the results we foresaw when we first decided to take up the instrument.

What can make piano practicing seem difficult is our inclination to expect fast results. If we don't achieve expectations right away, we get down on ourselves. We may feel the task 'to become accomplished at the keyboard' is too difficult. We start to avoid practicing because we do not want to struggle with another scale. We feel we will never be able to play pieces that are more advanced. Eventually piano practice is not attractive to us at all. We begin to make excuses that we have no time. In no time, we're not devoting any time to the piano.

The problem here is not that piano practice can't be enjoyable. It's the fact that our approach to practicing is wrong.

How do we make the practice of one of the most beautiful instruments in the world fun? Here are ways to accomplish that goal:

* Don't expect to be Beethoven at the piano instantly, if at all. Sure, it's something great to aspire to and there's nothing wrong with goals. The thing is, keep them realistic and set appropriate timeframes for accomplishing specific goals.

* 'Specific goals' are the crucial words here. Don't set out to play Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor in your first sitting. If you can, you probably shouldn't be taking lessons but teaching them to your own students. Instead, break down a piece into, well, 'pieces'. Do not be intimidated by the entire composition. Tackle it one section at a time.

* Don't feel you have to practice the piano seven days a week. Remember, you took up the piano for enjoyment. It's not like an after-school detention when you were a child. Don't make it feel like its punishment. If you miss a day of practice, what does it mean? It means you missed a day of practice, that's it! You can do extra the next day if you choose. You can choose to not do anything and leave it as a missed day.

*Used spaced repetition when you practice. If your quota is one hour per day, break it up into at least two segments of one-half hour each, or better yet, 4 segments of 15 minutes each. Spaced repetition is the way to practice for several reasons, including a tired rear end as well as the difficulty of focusing for that long a period.

*Be sure to practice hands alone at times as well as hands together. And practice slowly - there is no benefit from practicing too fast, and the danger is that it often leads to sloppiness.

*Practice a variety of pieces as well as practicing chords and scales and other forms of exercise. A good mix of classical and popular music can go a long way toward avoiding boredom and burnout.

But whatever you do, enjoy the process. Part of the fun of piano playing is seeing yourself get better from week to week. And when your family and friends start to notice your improvement, that's when satisfaction reaches the highest level.


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