David Hicken ~ Pianist & Composer

Advice For Pianists

There is a big difference between practicing the piano and playing the piano.

Your practice time should be focused on learning new material as well as fixing problems in existing material.

Practice should involve working on bite-sized sections, such as two measures or less. Practice hands separately as well as both hands together and drill small sections as many times as necessary to develop mastery.  However, realize that success doesn't usually happen all in one session.  Multiple sessions over a period of time are required to develop mastery, so be patient.  Connecting the small sections that you have learned into longer, more meaningful phrases is also an important part of your practice time.

The biggest mistake that students make is playing the material that they already know over and over and assume that they're practicing.    Of course, you need to play the material that you have already learned, otherwise you will forget it, however you should do this after your regular practice.

So your piano practice sessions should be split into two distinct sections when working on repertoire - practice time and playing time.  Your practice time is far more important than your playing time, so if you want to progress quickly, perhaps a ratio of about 70/30 would be appropriate, although of course, you can play for as long as you want.

If your practice time is limited to let's say, 30 minutes, then spend around two minutes doing sight-reading, then around eight minutes playing scales.  Follow this with twelve minutes of practice, and eight minutes of playing.  Not very much of each is it?  This is why 30 minutes probably isn't enough for you.

You can work out the ratios for yourself, but make sure that every time you sit at the piano you do something in the way of sight-reading as well as scales.  Then use the remainder of the time mostly learning and fixing, and then finally just playing.

If you follow this advice, I can assure you that you will get far more out of each practice session, and you will see much better results after a few weeks.  Most students waste time at the piano - don't be one of them!

Happy practicing!

David Hicken

All of the concepts that I write about here are detailed in my eBook "Secrets To Better Piano Playing" .  Click the image below to find out more.