Recently we were talking about how progress at the piano is made by daily practice, so I thought I’d share some practice tips for students.
1. I’m often asked how long students should practice each day; the real answer is that the actual length of time spent practicing isn’t as important as daily consistency. In other words, 10 minutes every day is far better than an hour once a week. The brain processes information best in small bits over a long period of time, and this is how progress is made the fastest.
2. What exactly is practice? Practice means playing what you went over in class, remembering as best you can the teacher’s instructions. Sometimes the student will have problems remembering a correct note or rhythm – this is ok. That’s why you return to lessons the following week, where corrections will be made. And parents: oftentimes a student will say that they don’t need to practice because they already know it and it doesn’t need anymore work; this may or may not be true. They should still be playing every day.
3. How should the student practice? The answer is almost always: slowly. Practicing at a fast tempo when the piece is incorrect does nothing but make it difficult to correct problems later. If a student can’t play a piece of music slowly, they certainly can’t play it fast. Once it’s perfect at a slower tempo, then they can speed it up. (Playing fast is fun, but it’s even more fun when it’s done correctly.)