HOW TO PRACTICE
Quality Practice > Quantity Practice
Many people has the misconception that if they practise a lot, they are doing the right thing.
But what if you have been practising with mistakes?
When practising with mistakes, you end up repeating the mistakes over and over again, reinforcing the mistakes made. At the end of the day, you are only creating a bad habit which becomes hard to be corrected. And all the time you spent practising with mistakes is wasted.
Effective practice is using the amount of time you have, but doing it correctly.
It can be just 15 minutes a day. But by practising correctly for 15 minutes everyday, you are improving each time, moving forward step by step.
So which is better?
Practising 1 hour a day with mistakes,
or practising 15 minutes a day correctly?
1. Home Support
This is one of the most important factor when it comes to piano practice. Because the amount of time parents spend with their child will always be more than the amount of time I spend with their child. After all, I only get to spend 30 - 60 minutes with the child per week.
I always update parents regarding their child's piano progress, because I appreciate greatly when parents participate and become part of their child's learning journey. They get to understand their child's strengths and weaknesses. Especially for young kids, it is important for parents to help them develop a habit of practising daily. When piano practice becomes a habit, the child will eventually run to the piano on their own and be able to practise independently.
It is never easy to develop a good habit. If the child forgets to practise, parents just need to give them a gentle reminder. It can be frustrating, but keep repeating with encouragement. Do not nag, scold or make piano practice a punishment. It will only backfire and make the child dislike piano instead.
2. Having A Decent Piano
While getting a decent piano may be costly and space consuming, it helps to develop the child's finger strength, dexterity and techniques better.
The touch of a keyboard and a normal piano is very different. Piano keys are made of wood, so the keys are weighted. But the keys on a keyboard are very light, it may result in the child being unable to utilise their finger strength correctly. The child will face problems like bringing out dynamics (loud / soft) effectively. The spacings between the keys of a keyboard and a normal piano differ slightly, which will affect the child's playing accuracy. If a child is used to practising on a keyboard, he / she may need longer time and tougher process to progress eventually as compared to a child who practises on a decent piano.
If you have no intention of purchasing a piano, renting one will be the most ideal choice. Unless you have limited space, try to get a digital piano with weighted keys. Even so, the touch will still be different from a normal piano.
3. Time Management
Children nowadays have many activities and school homework, so the time to practise piano becomes very limited. However, it is not an excuse to not practise at all.
Depending on individual, some students need to fix a time and duration for piano practice, like a time table. While some need time flexibility. If the child has many activities or school homework on a certain day, set aside 15 minutes for piano practice. But if the child has no activities or lesser school homework, he / she can spend more time for piano practice. Same goes for working adults, manage your time well and try to set aside at least 15 minutes a day for piano practice. But never skip a day of practice!
4. Focus On Mistakes
Many students' practice are not as effective because they tend to practise the piece from start to end. And there will always be a part where they make mistakes (notes, tempo, articulation, anything). What happens when you keep practising this way? You will keep improving on the parts you could already play, and the part where you make mistakes will stay stagnant. The gap will only get bigger.
The only way to improve is to focus on the mistakes and make sure you practise that part (not the whole song) until you don't get it wrong anymore. This may sound tedious, but it's the fastest method to improve.
5. Realistic Goals / Aims
If you are a working adult learning piano with only has 15 minutes to spare every day for piano practice. Ask and tell yourself what do you want to accomplish during the 15 minutes practice session. "I want to play this piece perfectly today!" is an unrealistic goal, unless you are already close to mastering the piece.
If you have trouble playing fluently, a realistic goal would be "I want to be able to play fluently for 4 bars by the end of today's practice". If 4 bars is still too much, cut down to 2 bars.
If you have trouble coordinating both hands together, a realistic goal would be "I want to practise both hands together for 2 bars until I feel comfortable."
For young students, I will usually give them clear instructions on what they need to practise for the week.
Do what you can handle. It is ok to start slow.
Picture Credit : Pinterest