Piano Practice Chart for Adults
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Here is a free lesson with a piano practice chart (PDF) for adults, for beginners to intermediate players. But also more advanced players may find this useful.
You will learn proven techniques for improving your piano practice routine, and learning a new piece as effective as possible.
Piano Practice Chart for Adults
Make sure to follow the step by step plan as outlined in the lesson below, and later adjust for your personal preferences.
- Listen to a video or recording of your selected piece, at least 2 times with the score in front of you.
- Highlight or mark any places in the score that you notice more than others. Where it’s extra interesting/beautiful/seems difficult for example.
- Divide the piece in the large parts that makes the “form” of the composition, like A B A for example.
- Divide each of these large parts in medium part, in phrases of 4-8 measures.
- Divide each medium part in small parts of 2-4 measures each.
Start Practicing in Parts
Start with the small parts.
- Play each small part very slowly each hand separately until the notes, fingering, rhythm (slow), dynamics and articulation is smooth and correct.
- Then repeat the small part 4 times in a row correctly.
- After repeating this process with all the small parts of the whole piece (or 1 large part if working with a long piece), practice in the same way each small part - but this time with both hands together. This time you must play even slower; about half tempo if possible. After playing absolutely correctly, repeat each part very slowly 4 times.
- Next, repeat the same procedure with the medium parts; hands separately 4 repeats, and hands together 4 repeats. This time practice with a metronome, but still in a very slow tempo.
- Finally, do the same as above with the larger parts. This time you’ll increase the metronome count with one step for each correct playing.
Working with the Whole Piece
- Practice each hand separately the whole piece in a medium tempo.
- Focus first on the basics, like correct notes, fingering, rhythm and dynamics. But also on phrasing and expression.
- Once you can play correctly and without trouble in a comfortable tempo, repeat 4 times in a row correctly.
- Next, repeat the process in half tempo (extremely slow) with both hands, all the piece.
Polish the Parts
- Play only the melody/ies in the whole piece. Sometimes this is in only one hand, sometimes the melody moves from one hand to the other.
- Pick only one melody line each and work until perfect. Use correct fingers even though it might be awkward if you omit other parts.
- In the same manner, play only the bass line until perfect.
- Practice the full accompaniment without melody.
- Play the bass line and the melody only. Adjust dynamics and expression.
- Combine all parts and practice slowly.
After learning the piece securely in a slow tempo, it’s time to speed it up to full tempo gradually.
Sometimes this is easy, but sometimes this may take some time.
Go back to the first tasks and do them again, but this time with a metronome. For each correct repeat, increase the speed.
If possible, learn to play the piece slightly above the full tempo. This gives you a “margin” and makes the piece feel so much more comfortable when performing.
Different people have different ease for memorization. Although memorization is a skill that can be trained and greatly improved- some pianists don’t have to “train” it at all!
But, instead of getting stuck pondering the unfairness of that- just get on with it! ; )
Go back to the first tasks. This time, for each of the (4) repeats:
- Look only at the notes,
- Look only at your hand/s with the music in front of you.
- Look only at your hands without the music in front of you.
- Same as 3.
Do the same with each of the parts, as outlined above.
To maintain the pieces you love to keep on your repertoire, you need to maintain them.
- After first learning a piece of music you obviously want to play it as much as possible.
- The first week after, once daily.
- The second week after once every 2-3 days.
- After that, play 2 times a week as long as you’d like to keep the piece on your repertoire.
Here you can print the free Piano Practice Chart (PDF) as a reference and for your convenience:
Piano Practice Organization
To keep several pieces organized regarding level of “readiness”, I keep a simple folder with the different levels written out as dividers.
Once a piece “graduates” from one level to the next, I simply move it to the next level.
We try to have at least one piece, repertoire and etudes, on each level. This keeps the piano practice varied and more fun. And that's what keeps you practicing- right?
If you are looking for books to help improve your piano technique for adult beginners, here are my top 3 piano book recommendations: