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


It is often helpful for children to try executing the rhythm away from the piano in order to eliminate the added challenge of trying to get the correct rhythm and pitch at the same time. There are many different ways to understand and practice rhythm; some people prefer counting, some prefer using words with a specific number of syllables to correspond to the rhythmic pattern. I often recommend that my students do the same rhythmic patterns in a variety of formats. This helps children to 'feel' the patterns as well as strengthen their 'understanding' of them. Here are a variety of ways of practicing rhythm. You m,ay want to try one of them - or a few of them - with your child.

1. Rhythmic Read each part
Rhythmic Reading involves conducting the beat with the right hand, tapping the eighth note sub-division with the left hand and 'speaking' the rhythmic pattern. This is quite challenging for children and takes practice before it can be used effectively. It is very difficult but it is almost impossible to do incorrectly which seems to help children identify whether they are getting it right or wrong.

2. Clap and Sway either the left hand part or the right hand part (use Ta's and/or count)
The 'swaying' is important - it helps children 'feel' the beat. Each beat has one side. For example, in 4/4 time,
a half note will receive one clap because it is just one note but the body will move from one side to the next
so that the note receives two beats -one beat on each side. Four eighth notes would receive four claps but
the first two claps would occur on one side of the body and the last two would occur on the other side of the body: two claps for each beat because two eighth notes equal one quarter note beat.

3. Clap each part either the left hand part or the right hand part (use Ta's and/or count)
This time, instead of swaying for each beat, all claps will be in the front and center of the body. Give more 'space' for longer notes. This kind of clapping is especially helpful when learning by ear. The claps will feel more musical because they will 'flow' with the rhythm. This sort of clapping is used in Dalcroze and Eurhythmic Training.

4. Play just the rhythm of each hand separately
(pick any note and repeat it, don't change pitch; use Ta's and/or count)

5. Play each hand separately as written (use Ta's and/or count)

6. Tap hands together (count)
The right hand will tap the rhythm of right hand part, the left hand will tap the rhythm of the left hand part

7. Finally, play it hands together (count)

All content © by Donna Gross Javel