Learning to practise the piano is just as important as playing music you enjoy. You must learn to tackle new material in a sensical way, and you need to have an understanding of how people learn. (Yes, this includes you.)
You can use each of these seven practise techniques at any time depending on who you are and where you are in your personal practise. As you become more advanced, you should not abandon the most basic practise techniques. They will always work for you and give you the results that you want (even if you don’t like them anymore.)
Also, remember that each of these techniques suits a particular situation. When you apply these techniques to the right situation, you will be much happier with your results and see progress that you would miss if you simply played something over and over again. Piano lessons in London are much more effective if you are using varying practise techniques.
Slow & Steady Wins the Race
Slow and steady has always won the race all the way back to the days of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady practice trains your hands and fingers where to go. Your personal practise is the time for you to learn everything you can about the music without help from your teacher.
You may not feel as though your music is as fast as it should be, but clean passages played at a slow speed are better than fast and sloppy passages that are obviously too fast. Some people need days or even weeks of slow practise on certain passages whilst other pieces of music move much faster and improve at what would be considered a normal rate.
Set up your metronome and turn it on 60 beats per minute. Leave the metronome at that speed until you feel that you can turn up the metronome again. Do not turn up the metronome to the next speed until you feel you are ready.
Yes, you can proceed through each tempo on the metronome until you are comfortable playing your music up to speed. You should also consider journaling about your practise sessions so that you remember which tempos you practised the previous day.
You should mark your fingerings so that you do not get confused. No one is reading your music. You need to write down what helps you play your best. You will spend some time marking fingerings until you get comfortable with making fingering choices. As you improve, you will only need to mark a few fingerings so that you do not get tripped up during your practise.
Dotted Rhythms for Pizazz
When you have been practising something for too long, you are going to get bored, oversaturate your brain, and even cause yourself to regress because you have done too much of the same thing.
Using dotted rhythms helps you practise something with long runs of eighths or sixteenths that trip you up. For example, a long passage might have sixteenths like 1e&a 2e&A 3e&a 4e&a. You can break those notes up by playing 1–e&—a2—e&—a3–e&—a4, etc.
While you may feel like you are doing nothing more than jazzing up your music, you are giving your brain a break and adding to your practise routine. Dotted rhythms stimulate your brain, help you play difficult passages more evenly, and help you absorb the information that you’ve been practising.
Arpeggiate Your Chords
When you are having issues landing on chords, you might want to arpeggiate them so that you can actually play each individual note. So instead of music, music, music chord—you are playing music, music, music, 1-2-3-4-5-6…
You are forcing yourself to play each note that you might have missed, and you can land on these chords more readily in the future.
There’s an inverse method here too – if you have a difficult arpeggiated patter that you are learning, block the chords to find your hand positions more easily.
The Whippet Method
This method has been popular with woodwind teachers who have borrowed it from the Barrett Oboe Method. You can turn off your metronome, find a passage that has been problematic, and play that passage as fast as you can. When you do that, you can see where the problems are.
As you “whippet” through the passage, you can find the perfect finger placement. As you speed up randomly, you can find the right spot for your fingers. Speed up until it is so fast that you are going much faster than you would otherwise.
Turn the metronome on and play the proper speed. You have likely cleaned up that passage. (Do not try to do whippets on passages longer than five or six notes.)
Consistency = Memorisation
When you have been asked to memorise music, you should practise with consistency Consistency = memorisation. Period. That is the best way to memorise something. You should not force yourself because that is frustrating and gets away from the routine practise you need to improve as an overall musician.
If you practise a piece of music diligently, slowly, and intentionally, you’ll realize that once you get to the memorisation phase, you can already play a good portion of the music from memory!
When you sign up for piano lessons in Kensington, you will see results and feel as though you are improving quickly if you are using different practise techniques. These tips help break up your practise, relax your brain, and give you better results.