Clocks And Piano Don’t Always Play Well Together
In a previous article I outlined why we should use Repetitive Practice constructively rather then watching a clock. This article details the application of constructive piano practice and gets students away from looking at the clock and more involved in constructive repetitions and efficient practice.
Applying Constructive Repetitions To Piano Practice
Let’s get away from timing practice completely. As a music student, you have to focus on learning pieces and exercises, not worrying about how long it will take. If you’ve mastered a song on the second or third run-though, wonderful! If it takes more work, then more work is needed. Understanding and enjoying this mindset is how constructive practice begins.
The next step is simple, and a teacher can help if additional guidance is needed. Take a challenging aspect of a piece—say a particularly difficult phrase, or an entire section—and simply set a goal for a number of repetitions per day. I like to outline for my students how many times is ideal for a day, and also to ask them not to count repetitions that were incorrect.
Constructive Piano Practice: An Example
So for example, if an imaginary student named Carrie had a new piece to work on, as her teacher, I would break the song into phrases/sections and say, “The goal for this week is to play each phrase correctly 3 times per day at any speed, then play through the whole song at the end of your practice.” By doing this, Carrie is now only focused on achieving the number of correct repetitions, which is constructive, and not concerned with how long it will take.
The only disclaimer here for teachers is to make the practice goals reasonable. You’ll generally know how long these types of tasks will take for each student, so be careful not to use this to create an overwhelming amount of work.
Let The Clock Go And Engage!
As teachers and students, we can make practice time a lot more engaging, constructive, and fun if we just take the time factor out of it. Focusing on goals and understanding the steps taken towards achieving great preparation of a piece or exercise should be the priority. Some goals will take longer than others, but let’s ditch the practice timing and encourage thoughtful engagement with an instrument.