a passion for playing)
One for the most common questions
that Tim gets from his piano students is..."how should I
approach piano practice.?"
As a piano teacher, Tim believes
that it is essential for students to create and design practice
sessions that are both relevant, rewarding, and enjoyable, thus
the amount of time dedicated to practice will depend largely on
For many students, the road
to actually achieving their piano playing goal will be long (and
often arduous), and in some cases students may become dismayed
and overwhelmed by the challenges that confront them as a pianist.
Keeping Practice Relevant
Most piano students have
busy lives, from homework at school to busy day jobs and looking
Piano practice is often an
additional past-time that requires varying degrees of dedication.
It is important for students to make piano lessons part of their
life regime, and not the other way around.
Knowing What to Practice
Practicing piano does not
necessarily mean hours of laborious scales and technical work.
Often, practice is simply listening to piano music, reading a
music related book, or even just experimenting with ideas and
topics learnt during lessons.
For some students, practice
may be playing one note (for several minutes), or applying a specific
technique, such as the 'drop roll'. For other students it may
be playing their favourite song or piece, or even learning theory.
Knowing When 'Not' to Practice
One of the issues that Tim
finds with students and their approach to practice, is that they
attempt to practice when the playing environment is arguably inappropriate.
Factors such as tiredness,
fatigue, stress, noise and simple well-being all play a vital
role in whether a student should even attempt piano practice on
a given day.
It is vital that the mental
(and physical) state of a student be right, before commencing
piano practice. On some days, students may even find that emotionally
draining pieces or works are largely impossible.
Whenever this happens, Tim
advises students to avoid the piece (in question) for a while,
until they are feeling more focused.
Another issue that Tim finds
with his students, is that they sometimes return to a lesson having
practiced a technical nuance incorrectly.
By practicing a technique
incorrectly, simply builds a brain map that reinforces a mistake.
In instances where this happens, Tim advises that students stop
practicing the technique until it has been revisited by the teacher
Piano is an instrument designed
primarily for pleasure, entertainment, personal enjoyment and
Adopting a relevant and logical
practice regime is the underpinning element for delivering the
great gift of piano playing for every student.
If a practice schedule is
designed in such a way that it becomes a hindrance to the student,
then the importance (and art) of piano playing for that student
will rapidly diminish.
Designing a Piano Practice Schedule
As a piano teacher, Tim almost
never designs practice regimes for his students, however there
are some vital components to practicing that Tim recommends.
These components include:
- Technical Work
- Songs & Pieces
- Listening (to piano music)
- Watching (pianists or musicians)
- Reading (music related content)
- Going to Concerts (seeing how musicians perform in front of
You can quickly see how piano practice (above), does not necessarily
require scale work and repetitive technical elements.
If students adopt a 'rounded' approach to practice, then they
are more likely to develop a passion for both playing, performing,
and even practicing.