Effective Practive & Motivation

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Below are some of the many different aspects involved in learning how to practice the piano effectively.

Environment | Goals | Musical Form | Rhythm | Fingering | Pedal | Posture & Tension | Method | Motivation | Memory


There are different kinds of memory and students often have different degrees of strengths in each of them: Aural, Analytical, Visual, Kinesthetic.

A good musical memory can be developed with practice. Faulty memory during a performance is often the result of performance anxiety and/or inadequate preparation. All of the above topics contain ideas on how to improve preparation. The section,  Method, may be especially helpful and practical in helping to develop a secure memory.

I recommend that students practice performing by playing for friends and/or family before trying to perform
in public. Participation in group classes, workshops and/or masterclasses can also be very helpful. Each successive 'performance' will usually get easier and easier.

This link from the website of pianist and teacher, Gretchen Saathoff, provides very helpful suggestions on how to memorize music effectively: click here.

Aural Memory

Singing is an effective way to develop one's aural memory. A very challenging and effective way to strengthen one's aural memory is to extract certain passages from a piece and try to transpose them into different keys. This can be extremely challenging so you might want to start by transposing just the melody of one single phrase.

Analytical Memory

Understanding the Musical Form of a particular piece can be very helpful in the memorization process. Parallel Practice is also a very effective way of assuring that the differences of similar sections are really understood.

Visual Memory

Even if you have not been blessed with a photographic memory, the visual image of the printed score can be helpful. Consequently, it is wise to use the same score and edition while learning a piece so as not to get confused by a different layout.


Choreograph your hands and arms. Try to decide on fingering as early on as possible.

All content © by Donna Gross Javel