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I like my students to work on several pieces at once. Different repertoire, etudes and exercises, scales and chords, some sight reading and chord piano for example.
This can be rather a lot of material to work on, and can lead to confusion unless the material and the practice time is organized.
It is a good idea to start the piano practice session with some form of warm up, scales and chord practice for example. If you are working on any particular exercises for piano technique, this is good to do first as well.
Next comes the study of repertoire. These pieces will be in different levels of completion, so to create a sense of where you are with each piece, and to quickly assess what needs to be done, I have found the piano practice tips below to be of big help.
Here is a practice plan that you work with step by step. Each piano piece will be worked on through 6 different levels:
This part of the piano practice is done in your mind, away from the piano.
Patience! Even though you now may feel so revved up you’d love to just start playing the piece hands together- DON’T!!
Your goal is to learn each hand separately, slowly then at tempo.
Once you can play the whole piece hands separately slowly without mistakes, learn how to use a metronome to gradually increase speed a little every day until you can play the whole piece hands separately in full tempo.
Finally you are “allowed” to play both hands together. But make sure to use my simple formula:
"The speed with which you can play your hands separately must be halved when playing both together."
This will feel very slow, but will make it possible to coordinate both hands without mistakes.
Work each small section by section coordinating both hands like this:
Master, and then combine the small sections like this:
Continue until you have learned the whole piece. Then combine the larger sections: A+B and C+D, etc. until you have learned the whole piece slowly hands together.
Again, working with the smaller or medium sized sections, work with the metronome to gradually build up the tempo until you can play the whole piece in full tempo with both hands.
Congrats! Record or video tape yourself and evaluate what you need to improve.
A very successful way of practicing is to use random, or interleaved practice. Learn more about an interleaved piano practice routine here.
Learning how to memorize the piece is something that comes easily for some people, and harder for others.
If you are lucky to belong to the latter category, you will already have learned the piece by heart by now!
For the rest of us, it's back again to the smaller sections...
Although it will be easier now, you need to patiently go through each section as you did before. But this time to memorize each hand separately, then both, and repeat and rinse for each section.
Once a piece is memorized, it will only stay that way if you review it occasionally.
I Hope this gave you some tips on how to practice more effectively!
If you have any piano practice tips that work for you- please leave your comments and share below!