Effective Practice and 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 | Posture & Tension | Method | Memory | Pedal | Motivation


There are different kinds of memory and piano 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. There also practice tips in the Children's Corner section of this web site.

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

I recommend that students practice performing by playing for other students, friends, and/or relatives 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.

Aural Memory
Singing is a very effective way to develop one's aural memory. Students at any level should be encouraged to sing the melody of their pieces or specific phrases. Slightly more difficult (but extremely worth the effort) is the ability to sing the non-melodic line. 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 are not 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.

Kinesthetic Memory
Try to decide on fingering as early on as possible. Beginning students should learn to use the fingering their teachers have suggested. Fingering is an art in itself and students should eventually learn how to make good fingering selections on their own. It is extremely important that students at all levels decide on fingering as early on as possible and then make every effort to stick with them. changing fingerings from one day to the next usually results in very a very insecure and unpredicatble performance.
All content © by Donna Gross Javel