The best way to practise:
Piano practice involves a lot of 'muscle memory'. Our muscles like to learn to do something by repeating it. You wouldn't want to rehearse a dance routine ten times in a row and then realise you'd had the moves wrong!
Make sure you practise piano with the right moves right from the start!
Oops not so great: Bethany played a section three times with a mistake, then one time correctly. Yay she got it right! She turned to the next piece. Bethany just practiced the mistake more than the correction! Which do you think her fingers will remember?
- Play slowly at first.
- Carefully play with the correct notes, rhythms, a steady beat, articulations and dynamics from day one of a new piece.
- Practise small sections (1, 2, 4, or 8 bars at a time).
What and when should we practise?
- In order to progress properly, students need to practise consistently. I recommend that students play the piano every day! A regular daily practice time is best (before school is great!).
- Coloured sticky tabs and your Piano Safari unit map (if you have one) show you what to practise.
- Beginners should be aiming to play each review piece once and each new piece three to five times in a row. Most pieces should be learnt in one or two weeks. ROTE or challenging pieces may take longer.
When is a piece learnt?
Pieces are tools to facilitate learning of concepts and techniques. We move on from a piece (or assign it as review) when it can be played at a suitable speed to convey the character of the piece (excited, sad, mysterious, etc.) with generally accurate notes and rhythms, articulations (smooth, bouncy etc.) and dynamics (loud, soft, growing and fading etc.)
Not every piece can or should be learnt until perfect!
How many minutes per week?
Please encourage goal oriented, mindful, effective practice. I hesitate to give a guideline of minutes because every student is different.
Do keep in mind that the amount of time spent at the piano directly correlates to rate of progress throughout the year. A student who practises only 80 minutes per week might take 12 months to complete Level 1 piano, while a student who practises 160 minutes per week might complete it in 6 months.
The Piano Safari unit maps ask students to continue to play pieces they have already learned. Why?
- Students are motivated to practise because it is fun to play songs they can play easily.
- Students spend longer at the piano each day, therefore progress is faster over the year.
- Students have pieces readily available to be performed.
- Students gain experience playing artistically, steadily and musically when they play a piece they already know.
- The student adopts the philosophy that pieces are to be enjoyed after you have learnt them, rather than discarding them as soon as they have been learnt.