The common theme running through all of these sites is that to continually progress with your piano studies, practice is essential. Indeed most sites claim that practice, practice, practice is the only solution to becoming a more accomplished player.
Yet surely there could be a more structured approach to this. What separates a great pianist from a phenomenal pianist? Is it simply that the latter worked harder, or did they have more effective practice strategies?
We have good news for you, several years ago a group of researchers at the University of Texas, carried out a study to determine exactly what behaviours enabled people to develop to the very best of their abilities.
The research involved students being presented with an excerpt of music, a metronome and a pencil. The participants were then taken to a practice room and allowed to practice for as log or as little as they wished. Some students left after only 8.5 minutes whilst some remained for up to an hour. Each student was asked to return the next day to perform. The rehearsal and the performances where than studied by the researchers.
The initial findings suggested that practicing longer did not directly link to a better performance and neither did repetition. However a positive correlation was found between how many times the pianist had played it correctly during the practice session.
Based on their findings, the team suggested that the following strategies had a positive effect on the quality of practice.
Playing with hands together early on
Practice with inflection early on
Errors preempted by stopping before mistakes were made
Errors addressed immediately when made
Markings made where mistakes had taken place
Tempo varied in practice sessions
Troublesome passages were repeated until mistakes eradicated
The research is indeed very valuable, but there are further tips and tricks which can be used to elevate your standard of piano playing. Take a look below.
Find yourself a partner who has more experience than yourself. Listening and watching somebody who plays at a more advanced level has the ability to inspire you and give you the motivation to push yourself to the next level. Also take some time to chat with them, ask them for advice on practice tips or simply to share their own personal experiences.
Don’t be mistaken….
If we take the tips above too seriously, we could become scared of actually making a mistake. However recognising your mistakes is simply part of the practice process. Mistakes are only an issue when they are ignored, but when noted and corrected, they are the key to us becoming a more accomplished player
Can you stand the pressure?
Playing just for yourself can be very relaxing and a great pastime, but why hide your talent? Playing for a public audience can be a daunting experience, so start off with family and friends. It does not have to be a formal recital, perhaps play during a family party when you are not entirely in the spotlight. Go on, have a go, you may enjoy it more than you think.
Sight reading can seem like an arduous task when all you want to do is play. However taking the time to scan a piece of music will give you great insight into how it should sound, ensuring the playing part becomes a whole lot easier.