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Piano Playing Tips - How To Make The Most Of Your Practice Time

Sep 12, 2008
One of the most important piano playing tips is to set aside separate times for piano practice and piano performance. Both practice and performance time are used to improve piano playing, but in different ways.

At least ninety percent of playing time should be practice time. This is time to thoughtfully and carefully learn. Every practice session should have a goal, such as learning specific sections of a piece, notes, memory, or just building familiarity. All of this practice playing should be done with a slow comfortable tempo that makes the piece easy to play. The aim of practice time is to learn to play as accurately as possible.

When performing a piece for an audience or as practice performance, musicians should play to the best of their ability but without stopping to correct errors. It is important to perform pieces often to see how well they go! After a performance, use practice time to go over the sections that need improvement.

Here are some piano playing tips to use in structured piano practice time:

Before starting to play, do several minutes of full arm, shoulder, hand and finger stretches.
Move each arm in big circles, starting from the shoulders. Bend over from the waist and stretch arms to the floor. Shake out the hands, and massage each finger. Do any stretches that feel good! Playing will improve as tension is let go.

Always play as accurately as possible during practice time.
Slow the tempo down to obtain note accuracy. Analyze what is needed for better accuracy. Do short sections need to be repeated, or played one hand at a time?

Stand up and stretch the arms, shoulders and hands every 5-10 minutes between playing sessions.
Unmusical playing is created by discomfort sitting at the piano. Stretching and shaking out at regular intervals during practice sessions will help to break out of habitual posture problems.

Do not use the damper pedal during practice sessions.
If used incorrectly, the damper pedal will cover up both good and bad playing. Habitual use of the damper pedal ruins music. If a piece is practiced at first without the damper pedal, the arms and hands will discover the coordination needed to shape musical lines. The pedal should be added once a piece is very familiar.

Do not reach for notes with the fingers.
Use the arm to move the hand over top of the keys. This can be difficult if the arms are being held rigidly. Use lots of stretching exercises between playing to discover how arm and shoulder tension can be released. Feel the full weight of the arm transferring through the hands and fingers into the keys.

Use the metronome almost always during practice time.
Using the metronome during piano practice is one of the most important piano playing tips a player can use to improve music making. It is important to set the metronome to a comfortable tempo, so that there is not a frantic, panicked feeling in the music. When sections of a piece need to be repeated, the metronome can be used to count rests between repeats. As a piece is learned and can be played through accurately, the metronome should be set at an easy tempo to repeat, settle in and relax.

Following these piano playing tips and separating structured piano practice time and performance time will greatly improve a player's skills.
About the Author
PianoJournal.com is a resource site for piano players, with articles and videos of piano playing tips.
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