While taking in home piano lessons in Seattle every student needs to practice to make the most of their experience and to progress as a student. Practicing is one of the most important parts of learning to play an instrument. Learning to play music takes time and dedication. Playing music can not be “crammed”, quickly playing through a song once, but must be an everyday learning experience.
Students that take in home music lessons will need to practice what their piano teachers have taught them at their weekly lessons in order to progress at the next lesson. Often, new students to music lessons are not sure of how best to practice the material that has been assigned to them by their teacher. Teachers with Lessons In Your Home always help their students to find the best and most efficient way of practicing their weekly material.
Every student will develop their own way of practicing that is most comfortable for themselves. Here are a six ideas and tips on how to make the most out of practicing:
1. Practice Every Day
Learning to play music is a life long study. Learning to play a song once will not create retention of the material that is being taught. If a student practices every day for just a few minutes it is much better than practicing only once a week. I like to compare learning music to learning a new language. It takes daily practice and use of the skills that are being taught until it feels comfortable and natural.
2. Small Amounts Equal Big Results
Smaller amounts of practicing throughout the week is always better than one long practice. I like to tell my students that 15 minutes a day of practicing throughout the week will lead to better results than practicing only once for an hour. Taking smaller and more frequent practice times allows the student to absorb more of the material and truly understand the technique that they are working on.
3. Set Goals
Every time a student sits down to practice for their in home piano lessons, they should have a goal of what they want to accomplish during their practice time. Having goals of what needs to be accomplished will help to organize practice time. Often times goals can be as simple as “play through the first page of this song” or “practice this song three times”. Your teacher will help you to set up goals to accomplish during your week of practicing.
4. Quality over Quantity
When I was a young student taking piano lessons, my mother thought it would be best to have me practice for 30 minutes everyday. For most days this was an adequate amount of time for me to work on my assignments from my teachers. However, there were days where I needed more and less time to practice. On the days that I didn’t need 30 minutes of practice time I would have to remain seated at the piano until the timer went off. I felt like this was a waste of my time and felt bored with nothing to do.
Instead of setting a certain amount of time for practice everyday, it is better to have goals for the days practice. For my students, I have set goals for them. I would rather my students practice each song that is assigned 3-5 times during their practice session. At the beginning of the week, practicing may take 30 minutes or longer, but as the student learns and understands their music their practice time will become shorter as the week goes on. The same amount of material is being practiced, but the length of practice time will change.
5. The “3 Times” Rule
While practicing many students will find a difficult passage or challenging part in their music. I have found that the best way to work through a hard part of music is to isolate the certain passage and focus on making sure to play it correctly each time.
The “3 times” rule was a technique that I learned in college and has helped me to make practicing more efficient. Taking a small passage or part that is challenging in the music and focusing on just that part really helps the student to fully understand how to play through it without mistakes. The “3 times” rule is being able to play through a certain passage correctly without any mistakes three times in a row. The hardest part of this technique is playing the passage correctly three times in a row without any mistakes. If a student plays through a passage twice but then makes a mistake on the last time they must start over again. Sometimes it will only take a couple of minutes to master a passage three times correctly, other times it may take a couple of practice sessions. Either way, once a student can correctly play through a difficult passage correctly three times they will mostly likely never make a mistake during that passage again.
6. Practice “Backwards”
Another great technique that I learned throughout my musical career that I like to share with my in home piano lessons’ students, is to play backwards. This does not mean to actually play the song backwards, but rather to start towards the end of the song and play through to the end. Then to start a few measures back and play towards the end. For example if the song is 4 pages long, start practice on page four and play to the end. Then start on page 3 and play to the end. After that, start on page 2 and play to the end. So on and so forth. This technique helps the student to have as much practice time with the end of a song as they do with the beginning of the song.