This questioning curiosity is one of the magical things for me about learning and practising at the piano; there is nothing more exciting that having struggled with something, to notice exactly what I’m doing, find a fix and then discover that it works and the problem is solved/solveable!
If we are serious about our music, our progress with our repertoire and our technical and artistic development, we need to establish good and regular practising habits, as regular as cleaning one’s teeth. No one, not even professional musicians at the top of their game, is born with an innate talent which negates the need… Continue reading Feeding the practise habit
Some years ago I belonged to a gym. I went regularly - 3 or 4 times a week - and followed the same sequence of exercises every time: rowing, cycling, cross-trainer, weight-training. After a while, it occurred to me that my fitness wasn't really improving as I was just “going through the motions”, following the… Continue reading Breaking the routine
Practice should reflect age and level. Five to ten minutes of practice at a time for a very young beginner is usually good. For those starting out regardless of age, five to ten minutes per day, moving to two sessions per day of that duration, is recommended to gradually build both concentration and engagement.
Those of us who teach and play ourselves understand that music requires commitment in the form of consistent, focused practising. This does not mean a snatched half-hour here or there or a blitz the night before the weekly piano lesson, but regular engagement with the instrument and its literature (at least 5 days out of… Continue reading The power of “yet”
Technique lies at the foundation of piano playing, and good technique can serve the beginner student right through to advanced level.
On the most basic level, we practice to get better, to become proficient, to ensure we never play a wrong note. However, productive practising should never just be mindless “note bashing”. As pianist and renowned teacher Seymour Bernstein says in his excellent book ‘With Your Own Two Hands’, “productive practising puts you in touch with… Continue reading The Three H’s of Practicing
Play always as if in the presence of a master - Robert Schumann The ability to self-critique, evaluate and reflect on one’s playing during practising and in lessons is a crucial skill for musicians, and is a component of the skillset of “deliberate practise” and self-regulation, which enables us to practise productively and deeply. Around… Continue reading Encouraging evaluation, reflection and self-critique in practising
I suspect all piano teachers broadly agree on the importance and value of consistent and deliberate practicing for all students, and that practicing is essential for successful learning and progression. How our students practice is in no small part down to us as teachers: during lessons we will suggests areas which need special attention and… Continue reading How teenagers practice
Routine or “autopilot” practising can kill one’s enjoyment and productivity at the piano. Practice can become strained or monotonous because it’s too often primarily directed by a preconceived idea and too exclusively goal- or result-oriented. This can lead to frustration and a feeling that you are not progressing as rapidly as you would like to.… Continue reading Creative approaches to practising