The piano is not exactly the most portable instrument in the world. It’s beautiful and allows you to explore harmonies, melodies, scores, and so much more, but you can’t pack it into a case, buy a shoulder strap, and carry it everywhere.
Since this is the case, you need to think of what to do when you have no time to practise—but you need to practise. These tips will give you an idea of how to build a practise schedule that works for you even though you don’t always have time to plop down in front of a piano.
If you’d like personalised help with how to develop as a pianist, please contact our piano teachers in London – we would love to work with you.
Practising Away From the Piano
Practising away from the piano is all about having a space where you can think about the piano, move your fingers, or do something else that is good for you as a pianist.
We will discuss things like practising on a tabletop, studying scores, and other ideas. You, however, should also consider doing finger exercises and hand strength exercises.
Finger Strength Exercises For Pianists
- Lay your hand flat on a table
- Tap your index finger 10 times without moving your other fingers at all
- Repeat this step with each finger
- You will find it is difficult to move your ring and pinky fingers independently of one another. You must practise with these two fingers particularly because your ring and pinky fingers share a tendon and often move together
- After your four primary fingers, move to your thumb, and repeat
A nice hand strength exercise includes:
- Lay your hand on a flat surface
- Finger up and down a five-note scale (some people call these mini-scales “segments”)
- As you finger up and down the mini-scale, complete the pattern three times
- You want to pop your fingers on the surface as hard as you can.
You will notice that popping your fingers on a flat surface consecutively with strength is difficult. This is also a good coordination exercise. As you speed up, you will notice it can be difficult to move your fingers in the right order.
Score Study For Pianists
Studying scores and music is always a good idea. You have little time to think critically and analyze your music when you are trying to play it. Spend some time marking chords that confuse you, writing in fingerings, and taking notes.
Because no one else can see your music, you can write anything you want on the page. You might also find errors in the music. Some older publications are printed using plates that could be up to 100 years old. The plates were never changed, and you need to play the right notes.
Not only do you feel wiser after studying scores and music, but you become more familiar with the music without the rigors of actually playing it.
“Piano Practice” On a Tabletop
Playing on a tabletop makes sense IF you are an advanced player who understands the instrument. A tabletop does not take the place of a keyboard, but a tabletop gives you a place to move your fingers and think through the music.
Think about how figure skaters stand backstage and work through their routines. They jump where they should jump, preview their choreography, etc. Doing this with piano music often gives you an idea of problems you will have.
If it feels awkward on a tabletop, it’s going to feel awkward on a piano.
How Much Time Do You Have?
If you have ten minutes, you should practise for ten minutes. Put your most important items at the top of the list, practise for just a few minutes, and move on with your life.
Write down what needs to get done in that 10 minutes so that you do not waste time. 10 minutes can help with:
- Slow practice
- Left hand only
- Right hand only
You can do one exercise for each, and it makes a big difference. You can run through a piece you already know. You can even slow practice for a bit and finally get through that passage you’ve been struggling with. We’ve already written about how much you should practise the piano each day, but the truth is, you can accomplish a great deal with only a little bit of time.
Finally, make sure you master music theory and you are absolutely confident with piano notes. Practising away from the piano, by reading scores and trying to plan your work before putting your finger into action could be a wonderful way of practising.
Listening To Your Piano Music Helps
Listening to your piano music with the score gives you a lot of insight into how it should be played. Most people do not have perfect pitch. You cannot just reproduce the score in your head without listening to it.
Listen to more than one version of the piece because every pianist has their own style. For example, Martha Argerich is going to be a little more forthright and intense in her performance than someone like Maurizio Pollini.
Don’t Get Discouraged
You might not have a lot of time, but you should not be discouraged. You are accomplishing more than you thought even if you cannot practise for several hours a day. These exercises, score study, and more are important. Honestly, you will end up doing these things more than other pianists who have more time for “proper” practice, and that is valuable! For more information about piano lessons in Kensington or the surrounding area, please get in touch.