If your little one has chosen the piano as their instrument, you likely have asked their piano instructor what you can do to help them practice. You may also do some research on your own and look into how the best piano players have honed their skills.
Adapting top-notch players’ practice methods for your child can help them improve their skills. The practice techniques listed here were compiled by a group of university researchers that studied the practice habits of piano players.
What Practice Methods Don’t Work
Before looking at what does work, the study shared a few things that actually wasn’t necessarily beneficial to the players in the study. First of all, practicing longer didn’t necessarily result in playing better. Repeating the piece over and over also didn’t have any impact on their final performance. It also didn’t matter how many times a player played a piece perfectly during private piano lessons.
Let’s take a deeper look at which techniques can make a difference.
Effective Piano Practice Methods
Identifying and Correcting Errors
One of the practice strategies used by many of the top players is to identify the errors they made often, determine why the error was being made, and then practice that part of the piece until it was easier.
These players didn’t go through the entire piece every time—instead, they worked on the sections they most often messed up. In the end, this method of handling mistakes helped these players avoid making those same errors in their performances.
Deal with Errors Immediately
Instead of playing through the entire piece even with mistakes, you should encourage your child to stop and address any errors they make right away. They shouldn’t wait until they have a whole list of issues that they have trouble with. This can feel overwhelming and make them lose confidence in themselves.
If they make a mistake early on, encourage them to pause there and work on that section until they can play up to that part. Then they can continue on with the rest of the piece.
Changing the Speed of Difficult Sections
How these studied piano players handled challenging sections of a piece is actually one of the things that sets them apart from the rest.
These top players had a unique approach to challenging sections. When they first identify a part of a piece as a “problem area”, they don’t simply play it over and over as they normally would. Instead, they slow the pace of the notes down.
They take the piece at a slower speed so they can focus more on hitting every key correctly. Once they’ve played through it perfectly at a slow speed, they increase the tempo a bit. They keep doing this until they’re accurately playing the section at normal speed.
They Think Through the Piece During Practice
When it comes to practicing music, the goal shouldn’t be to mindlessly play through the entire piece as many times as possible. Instead, your child should be encouraged to really think about what they’re playing. This may mean they spend more time looking at the sheet music than playing for a few sessions, and that’s okay.
If they suddenly realize something about the piece halfway through playing, they should stop, make a few notes about it, and think about how that affects their playing. They should also be encouraged to share any of these “ah-ha” moments with their teacher during their next lesson.
These insightful moments may have more to do with developing their overall understanding of music than the current piece they’re learning, but in many ways, they’re the most important parts of practice. They show that your child is truly understanding music.
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