Organizing your practice at the piano is a necessary first step in being a successful pianist. You’ve probably heard your mom or dad, or grandparents, talk about the importance of being organized. Maybe they were not talking about the piano, but most likely you’ve heard them talk about organization in some other aspect of life. When writing an essay, practicing a team sport, cleaning your room, or sorting your basketball card collection, organization is key. Why? Because organization helps you focus on small tasks or items one at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed in trying to complete everything all at once. As you can probably tell, the same is true for piano practice – organization is key. So here we’ll help you organize your piano practice in order to maximize your success (adults could use this help, too!)
Organizing Your Practice – Setting a Schedule
The first step in organizing your practice at the piano is creating a schedule. Have you ever heard the joke about how the hardest part about getting into shape is actually going to the gym? You are most likely to succeed in your piano practice when you schedule it at the same time everyday. So if you get home from school at a certain time everyday, set a specific time to practice the piano. AND, make sure that you practice for a certain amount of time everyday. For example, a half-hour is a short but very effective amount of time. If you practice a half-hour everyday you’re certain to see excellent results!
Organizing Your Practice – What Comes First, Second, Third?
Now that you’ve decided the specific time and length of your practice sessions, what should you practice first? Second? Third? Good piano teachers (like us) know that there are specific things that a piano student needs to practice. We try to present those things in a specific order, just like you might prepare a full meal by selecting various healthy food groups.
So, in what order should you practice? Well, we like to show students “foundational” elements and “FUN”-dational elements. Foundational elements refer to technical exercises that students should practice, like scales, arpeggios, and Hanon exercises. “FUN”-dational elements refer to things like learning songs, styles of music, or working on a particular piece of music. Both are important.
Scales and technical exercises are a great warmup to any practice session, so it’s a great idea to begin your practice session with these. Then, once you’re warmed up, go on to practicing the song or music that you’re studying,
Organizing Your Practice – Real Practice vs. Playing the Piano
One last point. Really practicing the piano means working on things that you want to be able to play better, to improve your overall piano skills. Playing the piano means simply playing through songs that you already know for your own pleasure. This might be enjoyable and fun, but it doesn’t really make you any better at playing the piano. Follow this simple rule for every practice session: Make sure that when you are done there is something very specific that you can play better than when you first sat down.