The How and Why of Practice

Quality practice time is an essential element of taking piano lessons. Beyond wanting your child to excel and improve in their piano performance, good piano practice at home makes for a quality experience during lesson time as well. So what are the goals of piano practice? Effective practice helps with ease of playing, speed of playing, and perhaps most importantly, it helps with CONFIDENCE in playing.  

So, onto the HOW of piano practice. I could write many, many blog posts with practical advice for specific types of practice, but for now, I'll cover the general steps involved in quality practice. Effective practice needs to target the EDGE of a student's abilities. Ideally, that edge gets pushed a little further each day. Managing the content of a student's practice is part of my responsibility as their teacher - ensuring that the WHAT of their practice is able to challenge them each week. If the content is too easy, the student is not being pushed and if it is too hard, then they are also unable to make sufficient progress due to frustration.  

Here are the steps for the HOW of effective practice:

1) FOCUS - Ensure you are ready and able to put all your mental energy into the practice session. Minimize outside distractions!

2) SLOW AND STEADY - Start each new scale, chord, method piece, repertoire piece slowly - then build speed with each repetition or practice session. Learn it well from the start!

3) MULTIPLE DAILY SESSIONS - Frequent practice sessions with a fully focused brain are better and more effective than longer sessions once a day!

4) IMAGINE - Use downtime to mentally practice your scales or repertoire - we can learn by imagining! This technique can also help reduce nerves and stress before performances, or even before lessons. Imagine what a good lesson looks like during the car ride!

My hope is that by using these techniques your student is able to spend their time practicing to effectively improve their piano playing. The following videos cover many of these ideas. See what works for you and your student. Leave a comment to let me know how you help implement effective practice for your student!

TED-Ed How to Practice Effectively

The Flute Practice - this video discusses using mental imagery to practice

Why I Teach Music

My goal as a music teacher is to help create mature, well-rounded, productive members of society. The following TED Ed video makes a strong argument for why all children can benefit from playing a musical instrument. 

TED ED Lesson by Anita Collins on "How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain"

If you are interested in Anita Collins' full TED Talk on the benefits of playing an instrument you can find it at the link below.

Anita Collins' TED Talk