Practice Makes Perfect

I’m sure you have all heard that phrase before.  Piano practice is very important if  you want to make any progress at all.   I would venture to say that practice is one of the single most important things you can do to become a better pianist.

If you are the parent of a budding pianist, practice should become an essential part of your day.  You can schedule it just as you do homework and other things throughout your day.  I have several parents that have their child practice after they finish their homework on the weekdays.  My studio policy for children under 6th grade is to set aside a practice day 5 days a week.  You can take 2 days off, but you must practice on at least 5 of the 7 days.  I have a practice log for the children to fill in with tally marks.  They must practice each song 5 times each day.  So at the end of the week, they should have 25 tally marks.

As the student gets older, it is harder to gauge how much practice each song should get.  A good rule of thumb for older students is 30-45 minutes of practice a day, with two days off.  This way, the student can decide which song needs more practice and which songs they can master easily.  Of course, if you haven’t mastered a song, then you probably need more practice.  🙂

I also find that children need to be taught how to practice.  It isn’t good enough to play a song 5 times each day if you are making the same mistake over and over again.  Children should start by playing each hand separately and making sure you are confident to play that hand by itself.  Then they play both hands together.  When they find a difficult spot, have them take a moment to circle that spot with a pencil.  Then they can practice that spot only until they can play it with no mistakes.  There are many more nuances to music and different things will need to be practiced each time they play a piece.  Fingering, dynamics and tempo are only a few of the things to remember as a child works on a song.

In order for a student to make progress, practice must be an integral part of their day.  A teacher can teach all they know, but until what is taught is put it into action, it is nothing.   Don’t expect to be able to play Beethoven if you don’t practice.  It would be nice if we could just sit at the piano and play whatever we want, but unfortunately, that isn’t how it works.  If it is valuable to you, then you will want to put the time in to learn that which you value.  And the way you do that is by practicing.  🙂