Acorn Music Studios

Practice tools and tips!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 by Carolyn Nelson | Uncategorized

Practice Effectively!

This article was written to give students encouragement and advice when it comes to practicing efficiently. Whether you are a new student or seasoned one - efficiently practicing your pieces makes all the difference. Some are preparing for recitals/concerts, but others just need this advice for daily tools in helping them practice.

And remember....when you approach a difficult piece the only way to do it is - Divide and Conquer!

Stopping mistakes before they start
When you practice in easily digestible sections from the very start, you are cutting your learning time in half by not making huge mistakes from the beginning.

Setting Daily Goals
Make a goal to focus on one problem section a day and get it down really well. Be reasonable with yourself and limit your focus to 1, 2, or 4 measures at a time. Play as many repetitions, slowly, with your best concentration, as the section needs to improve. Mindless repetition just for repetition's sake won't help you improve. Review what you've done the next day of practice and then move on to fix the next section that needs attention.

Three Times in a Row Perfectly
You will know each section well if you will make it a rule to play it 3 times in a row perfectly (including no pauses!). Remember, a pause is a mistake! Fix it right away, otherwise you will keep pausing at the same spot. Keep it smooth!

Sectional practice gives you safety spots, or good starting points
A safety spot will be your salvation in a performance if you somehow lose your way. Practice starting at the beginning of every main section. These are your "safety spots." The more difficult the piece, the more safety spots you need, even every 4 to 6 measures. If you can do this you know the piece very thoroughly.

Don't skip “hands separately” practice!
If you can't play the piece or section hands separately, you don't know the piece well enough to perform it in a contest. Even up to the day of the performance, practice hands separately, LH first. It is common to think you know the piece, only to have the memory fade during a performance because you didn't know the LH well enough. Then practice hands together.

Start slowly, then build tempo
When learning, the perfect tempo for you is the tempo at which you can play with NO pauses or mistakes. Above all, get the fingering first, along with playing the notes and rhythms correctly. You are not playing correctly if you have a sloppy fingering that doesn't work well. You will pay for sloppy fingering in time you'll have to spend later to unlearn it and then relearn the correct way. Your teacher coaches you on fingering; her advice simply is the best way for your hands to move fluently around the keyboard.
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