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Piano Lesson: What To Practice On Your Piano

Jul 15, 2008
How can you decide what to practice among all available choices? Is it possible to find a balance between playing by ear, learning sheet music, finger dexterity and other aspects of piano playing? Let us take a closer look at the art of piano practicing!

I have piano playing friends with diverse musical backgrounds. Some of my friends do not know how to play one note of sheet music and have relied entirely on their well developed ability to play by ear.

To have a good ear is a great asset but not being able to read sheet music or at least be able to read lead sheets with chords can make things unnecessary complicated when confronted with the task of playing other peoples music.

Let us take a look at a music composing scenario!

Suppose you have an assignment to write the music to a musical. The musicians involved do not know how to read sheet music and consequently they have to learn the songs by listening to recordings or by listening to your instructions.

It will surely take some time to get things right!

Let us also suppose that you get some ideas for a new song and how to create some additional music backgrounds in the musical. How much time do you want to use instructing your musicians? Maybe the outcome will be that you feel restrained not to complicate the music too much as you will have the delicate job to instruct your musicians how to play.

Let us take another scenario!

You have musicians at your disposal that can sight read sheet music without any hesitation and you can write whatever sheet music you want and be confident that they will understand the intentions you write down in your sheet music. If you want to add or change music in your musical score you know that your musicians will be able to play your intentions without you having to talk to them all the time.

Instead you will be able to use your valuable time to compose music and arrange the music the way you want it performed. You can with confidence leave the production to others and start writing music to your next musical!

If you had the choice between having to rely on musicians that only play by ear and musicians that can both play by ear and can sight read you might prefer the latter players supposing that they are nice, gentle, humble and are able to collaborate.

If you as a musician want to be the choice of a composer or somebody else that needs musicians you will have a great advantage if you know both how to sight read sheet music and also how to play chords from a lead sheet.

What has this to do with your practicing time? Well, I think that you will benefit from having a balance between exercises that has to do with improvisation, chord playing and sheet music.

I think that you will benefit from sight reading exercises, memorizing classical piano pieces, improvising in different keys, learning scales and chord voicings and how to play jazz standards! There is no contradiction between playing by ear and mastering sheet music notation!
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson invites you to download your free piano sheet music at http://www.capotastomusic.com
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