Practicing the Piano is a learned skill...just like playing the piano is a learned skill. It's not a hard one either.
The most challenging part of practicing is getting a grasp on what it really is first and then how to do it effectively, and in the least amount of time.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to your practicing, is that you need to structure and adapt it according to who you specifically are and what your unique needs are.
Let's take a look at the "what" and the "how" first, before we learn how to make it work for you specifically.
What is practicing? Generally speaking practicing is simply sitting down at your piano to work on whatever scales, exercises and pieces you are currently learning. It's like doing homework...you work on it a bit each day to learn what your assignment is for the day or the week. Practicing is the "work" part of playing the piano and it's how we grow and become better piano players. Practicing is different from sitting down to just perform because it always involves the goal of learning something new and reinforcing that new skill or technique instead of just playing and sharing what you have already learned.
How Do We Practice? There are several ingredients to a good practice recipe. The basic steps to structuring a good practice routine include setting up a good time to practice each day, knowing what you want to work on in your practice time, setting specific goals for each session, review what you already know, start anything new very slowly so your brain and fingers can learn the new patterns, and then keep reinforcing that new knowledge each day after.
Well that all sounds pretty simple doesn't it? We basically know that we need to practice everyday to learn our piano music, that we have to work slowly and steadily to grasp new material, and we need to review and reinforce the old and new material as much as possible.
So why doesn't that work all the time? Why don't our practice sessions always produce the desired results? Or why does it take so long to achieve those goals...can't they be reached any sooner?
The answer here leads us into one of the neat aspects of learning to play the piano. We get to know ourselves better in the process!
The best piano practice routines are those that fit in with who we uniquely are, what our individual needs are, and even how we individually learn.
We're all different. We learn differently, we're wired in our brains differently, we express ourselves differently. Not everyone can eat sugar or peanuts, or seafood. Not everyone likes chocolate. Some people don't like Blues and others don't like classical. Some of us are morning people while others of us are night people. Some of us work at night, while others work in the daytime. See the point?
It only makes sense, that if you are diabetic and can't eat sugar, you don't eat sugar. Now apply this to practicing the piano. If you work all night, you don't want to schedule a practice session at 7:00 a.m. If you're not a classical music fan, then learn to play Jazz or Blues music instead.
Have you ever heard somone say that "things work out in your life when you're walking the path that you're supposed to be on"?
It's the same with your piano practicing in a way. If you try to force yourself to learn in a way that is hard for you, or play music that you don't like, you're going to have a rough go of it, and you won't see the results you'd like to see.
Why so much focus on the "challenges"?
Because they are our greatest teachers. They teach us where we need to grow and when we learn to accomodate those areas that need special attention and focus we succeed more at everything we attempt to do.
Knowing yourself tells you how to practice your piano so you can succeed. Adapting your practicing to your specific schedule, desires, way of learning and unique way of living will be the best and fastest way for you to learn the piano, and do anything else in your life.
It's like learning how to make your favorite chocolate chip cookie. You make it a few times and then adapt it to work even better to your own tastebuds and physiological needs. Diabetics learn how to make them without sugar.
So if something in your practicing isn't working...take a look at what it specifically is and then figure out why it's a challenge.
There are endless ways to create a fun, productive and successful practice time according to what you want and need in your life. Don't try to "do it" like everyone else...you're not them and they aren't you. You will succeed the best at playing the piano when you approach the learning process with an openness to yourself and your own beautiful uniqueness. Make it yours!
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