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piano practice

Infographic: How to Practice Piano for Your Best Results

piano practiceWhat’s the best way to practice piano? If you really want to become a better piano player, you’ll need to have a plan in place when you sit down at the keys. Here, online piano teacher Crystal B. shares her recommendation for breaking down a 30-minute practice session…

 

Whenever you sit down to practice piano, it’s important to make the absolute best use of your time. For beginners, 30-minute practice sessions are a great place to start! Here are some tips to ensure that your practice time is effectively helping you become a better musician. Let’s break down a 30-minute practice time:

5 minutes: Warm up – Spend this time getting your fingers and wrists loose and ready to play! Your instructor will be able to provide you with some great exercises for this.

Tip: This is also a great opportunity to check for things like correct posture, that you’re sitting centered at middle C, and that you’re holding your hands/wrists in the correct position. If you’re not sure, imagine that you are resting your hand on top of a tennis ball. This is how your hand should look — and make sure to keep your wrists straight.

10 minutes: Technique/Theory – Technical exercises are so important to your development and improvement as a pianist. Unlike the warm-up time, this is the opportunity to really push yourself! I include piano theory during this time because so many times, these things can work hand in hand. For instance, you can incorporate things like practicing scales and chord inversions into this time. Doing this will not only help you solidify your theory knowledge (which is so important!), but you’ll also be working on strengthening your fingers and becoming a more versatile player.

Tip: Make sure you prioritize note accuracy,  correct fingering, and playing evenly over speed while working on technical exercises. You should try to increase your speed eventually, but only after you’re able to play the exercise correctly and evenly.

10 minutes: Song Assignments – If you’re taking piano lessons, most likely your instructor will have assigned you a song (or songs) to practice during the week. These song assignments will usually be given to help reinforce what you are learning in your lessons. If you have been given more than one song, try to spend some time playing each one so that you don’t lose any ground you’ve gained during previous practice times. Typically you’ll be working on songs longer than a week, so remember, just make sure you are making progress and having fun!

Tip: When working on songs (especially if they are difficult), don’t feel like you need to attack the whole song at once. Many times it’s best to work on songs in sections, and your instructor can help you in deciding how much is appropriate to tackle each week. Also, don’t forget you can start with hands separately at first, and then try them together. This will make learning new songs much more manageable.

5 minutes: Free Play – You’ve worked hard, and during this time I recommend playing something just for your own enjoyment. This could be anything from a song that you’ve already mastered to trying to write a song of your own! Doing this is a great reminder of why you play piano in the first place — because you love it!

Are you a more visual learner? Check out this handy infographic to learn how to break up your piano practice for maximum efficiency:

How to Plan Out Your Piano Practice for Success

CrystalBCrystal B. teaches piano online. She has been teaching all ages and levels for more than 15 years. Learn more about Crystal here!

 

 

 

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14 Common Musical Terms All Piano Players Need to Know

As you’re learning how to read music on the piano, you’ll come across a lot of different words and terms that will seem like a foreign language. And that’s because… they are!

Most sheet music terms you’ll see are Italian, or have Italian roots, while others are taken from French, German, Latin, or Spanish. But don’t worry — you don’t need to learn how to speak Italian fluently to be a good piano player. There are many piano terms and symbols, but the 14 listed in the infographic below are some of the most common. If you understand these, you’ll be able to play many famous piano pieces in the way the composer intended — and become a better piano player as you continue learning!

piano terms

*Special thanks to online piano teacher Crystal B. for her help with these music term definitions!*

What other sheet music terms have you come across? Do you have any tips for memorizing them? Leave a comment with your questions and advice!

 

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Prepping For a Piano Level Test Your Timeline for Success

Preparing for a Piano Level Test | Your Timeline for Success

Prepping For a Piano Level Test Your Timeline for SuccessWhether playing for pleasure or as a professional, there is likely to come a time when you will be faced with a piano examination, such as the ABRSM piano exam. Like any exam, preparation is key. But when the time comes, how can you make sure that everything goes according to plan?

Before the Exam

  • In the weeks leading up to your exam, this is when you will want to increase your rehearsal. Focus specifically on the pieces that you will be playing on the day. It can be easier (and more satisfying) to only go over the pieces that you find easier to play. In your piano lessons, your teacher is going to notice the pieces that you are struggling with. Don’t be afraid to tackle them head-on. Working on the toughest parts is going to make you feel more confident on the day of your test.
  • Also, do a mock version of the exam, so you know exactly what to expect and what will be required of you. The more familiar it feels, the less nervous you are likely to be on the day. Do a run-through of what will happen on the day, under exam conditions.

On the Day of the Exam

  • If you have never been to the place where your exam is being held before, leave plenty of time to make the journey. Being late and turning up flustered is going to throw your focus. Remember: early is on time and on time is late. Aim to be at least 10 minutes early. Keep the phone number of your piano teacher and the address of the exam venue handy, because no matter how much you prepare, sometimes things do happen outside of your control. If you’re likely to be late, call ahead of time.
  • Make sure that you have something to eat. A great breakfast or a healthy lunch on exam day will improve your focus. We all know that it’s difficult to concentrate if you’re hungry, so even if it’s just fruit, do try to eat something.
  • This isn’t one that many think about, but avoid wearing something that is going to hinder your playing or be a distraction during your exam. Wear something practical and comfortable — leave the loud bangles at home.

During the Exam

  • Get your instrument ready before you go in. Whether you’re at a grand piano or an upright, it is key to make sure that you are comfortable. Take time to adjust your stool if necessary and play a few scales, to get you in the zone to play at your best.
  • As you likely know what to expect by this point, take a few deep breaths and pace yourself. Try not to worry about pausing between pieces. If you would feel more comfortable doing the exam in a different order, that is usually fine as long as you ask your examiner.
  • Don’t panic if you make a mistake. You won’t be the first or the last. Carry on as best you can from it. It is never as bad as it seems at the time. If your examiner stops you during a piece, don’t be alarmed — it may be because they have heard enough to determine the mark.

If the thought of a piano exam is overwhelming, remember that it is just a chance to show off what you and your piano teacher are already sure that you know. The time goes by much faster than you would think and the examiner is rooting for you. Try to enjoy the experience. Good luck!

Need help preparing for a specific test like the ABRSM piano exam? Check out our tips here.

About the Author:
Freya is an avid pianist. Along with her love for cooking, she also deals in piano sales & write in her spare time.

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tips for learning piano

3 Other Musicianship Skills You Need to be a Great Pianist

tips for learning pianoOne of the best tips for learning piano is making sure you have a well-rounded skill set! Read on as online piano teacher Crystal B. shares her thoughts…

 

The piano is definitely a unique instrument and playing piano requires a specific skill set. However, there are some basic musicianship skills that every piano player needs.

Timing

When people think of musicians that need great timing, they typically think of the drummer. But it’s equally important for a piano player to have great timing! Many times, new piano players overlook this very critical skill and feel that it’s not as important as other elements. But good timing is one of those fundamental music skills that is extremely important no matter what instrument you play.

A large part of being a great musician is being able to play with the right “feel,” and acquiring this skill starts with timing. Being a rhythmic player becomes even more important if you are playing with other musicians, especially in the studio. In most studio settings, you will be playing to a “click track,” which basically functions like a metronome to keep everyone on the same page rhythmically. So when your music teacher is asking you to play with a metronome, just know, you are practicing a skill that you will definitely use at some point!

Theory

Knowing music theory is probably one of the most powerful tools you can have, regardless of the instrument you play. When you gain the understanding of how music works — why certain chords sound good together and why certain keys/scales have sharps and flats (the black keys) — this unlocks so much potential as to what you can accomplish as a musician. The other great thing about theory, is that it enables you to effectively communicate with musicians that play other instruments. So much about theory crosses over to every instrument, and knowing it also makes learning additional instruments much easier.

Charts

A lot of times when people think of playing by chord charts, they think of guitar players. Some piano players only play by reading notes, but I highly recommend also learning to play using charts. This will make you a more versatile player and will also help you function well in a setting where you are playing with other instruments (especially guitar players). Also, if you decide to become a session player, you will need to learn the Nashville Number System. Charts are a great way to get the basic knowledge you will need to make learning this much easier.

All of these things are useful musicianship skills which will come in handy regardless of the instrument you play. One other thing worth mentioning, I highly advise students to play with others who play different instruments any chance you get. This is one of the best tips for learning piano, because it’s a great way to become familiar with how other instruments work and what skills cross over. It’s a great learning experience and lots of fun too!

CrystalBCrystal B. teaches piano online. She has been teaching all ages and levels for more than 15 years. Learn more about Crystal here!

 

 

 

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piano practice

3 Tips To Avoid Getting Bored During Your Piano Practice

piano practicePiano practice doesn’t have to be boring! Stay motivated with these three tips from online piano teacher Crystal B...

 

Playing piano is a great joy for many people, but sometimes practicing can become repetitive and boring. Here are a few ways to enhance your piano practice time while still honing your skills and acquiring new ones!

• Practical Application

Many times the things that seem most boring when practiced alone (such as scales, theory, etc.) can be found in some of your favorite songs. If you’re getting bored with a particular topic, see if you can find a way to incorporate the new knowledge into something that you’ll enjoy playing. You may need to ask your piano instructor for help with this one; he or she can point you in the right direction and give you a song that will make learning the new skill more enjoyable.

• Diversify Your Practice Time

Instead of working on one thing during your whole piano practice time, divide your time between different things. For instance, try warming up with some technical exercises, doing some note reading, and then playing something by ear or using charts. This will help keep things interesting and will also help you become a more well-rounded musician.

• If You Feel Like Playing Something Specific, Go For It!

While it is important to practice things that aren’t always the most fun, remember, learning a new instrument should be an enjoyable and exciting experience! If you sit down to practice and you are really drawn to a particular song, play it! You can accomplish a lot and have a great time by working on a song that really inspires you — even if it’s not what you intended to practice when you first sat down to play.

Remember, the most important thing is that you keep playing, practicing, and learning new things. Have fun!

CrystalBCrystal B. teaches piano online. She has been teaching all ages and levels for more than 15 years. Learn more about Crystal here!

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Play Me, I'm Yours Austin - piano 5 - photo 07, Apr 16, 2011

10 Fun Ways to Spice Up Your Piano Playing

Play Me, I'm Yours Austin - piano 5 - photo 07, Apr 16, 2011Love to play the piano, but want to take a break from scales and Hanon exercises for a bit? Here are some ideas from New Paltz, NY teacher Cheryl E...

 

It happens to all of us: we get in ruts. Whether you’re bored with your practicing routine or your repertoire, we’ve all been there. But instead of giving up on playing the piano, take action! Here are 10 fun ways to spice up your playing.

1. Put your own spin on it! Try taking a straight song and swing it. Here’s a great example of a swinging Bach piece:

2. If you’re already playing some jazz, why not change up the melody? Write your own on top of the chords and see what you come up with. (You can do this with any style, really. Even scales.)

3. If it’s major, make it minor, and revel in its darkness.

4. Test your chops and transpose the whole song. Take it down a half step, or up a fourth, and see how the piece changes just by transposing it. Does it become lighter? More inspiring? You can discover the reason why the composer wrote it in the original key.

5. Change the tempo. I do this with my singers a lot as well. Take a piece and slow it down so that each note is held until the exact pitch is found. It’s tedious but a wonderful way to internalize the notes. The same is true for fingering for piano. Once you’ve got it super slow, try speeding the piece up as fast as you can and see how you do.

6. Play a song outside your comfort zone. Like Rachmaninoff? Try playing an arrangement of an Eminem song (like this guy). Like pop? Try Mozart, or learning “Fur Elise” so you can say “No, this is how it’s done” when your friends plonk through the first few notes at a bar.

7. Write your own piece. Even if you don’t consider yourself a composer or songwriter, take a very basic chord progression (I-IV-V-I or swap out the I of the vi. Another common pop progression is I-vi-V-IV) and see what kinds of melodies, chordal voicing, and rhythms you can come up with. You have your own taste, and no one’s going to know what you want but YOU.

8. Create a mash-up. We’ve all seen “Glee”. Mash-ups are totally in right now. Try combining two songs that have nothing in common, like “Fur Elise” and that Eminem song — OR try combining all those pop songs that have the same four chords (including the new one you just wrote!). Here’s one of “Roar” with “Eye of the Tiger”:

9. Take a piano lesson! If you aren’t already taking piano lessons, having someone give you new ideas, new exercises, and new repertoire ideas can be just the thing you need to see a new side your piano playing.

10. Get a mentor group! I tell this to all of my career coaching clients. When you have a mentor or coach, you get new ideas and accountability. Yes, your piano teacher definitely counts as this, but it also doesn’t have to be so formal. Go find other piano players in your area and create a group — like a book club except you’ll have a challenge to impress each other with fun new arrangements or something that will have you practicing, performing, and shedding light on what else is possible!

Last thing: have fun! If you’re taking yourself too seriously, take a step back and reexamine why wanted to play the piano. When you remember what you love about music, the piano, playing, and performing, then you’ll really have no problems diving back into it!

CherylECheryl is a film and TV commercial composer and singer/songwriter with multiple tours, records, and TV placements under her belt. If you turned on your television this year, you’ve definitely heard her music. She teaches piano and voice in addition to composition and arrangement in New Paltz, NY. Learn more about Cheryl here!

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piano competitions

4 Ways Piano Competitions Make You a Better Player

piano competitionsWhat do the best piano players have in common? Most of them have participated in piano competitions, exams (like the ABRSM), or recitals. Here, St. Augustine, FL teacher Heather L. explores the benefits of piano competitions…

 

Competition of all kinds gets a bad rap nowadays. In dozens of counties and hundreds of schools across the country, competitiveness is under fire. Students and young athletes are being told that participation and team building are all that counts, and therefore, game scores are not kept. And in even more places, music competitions have become music festivals, in which groups or soloists are graded individually and places like first, second, and third are not given.

Well, in my opinion, competition is what often drives humans to succeed. This is especially true when it comes to musicians, and more specifically, to pianists. Here’s a list of ways that competing makes you a better piano player.

• Pressure to practice

Perhaps the most immediate benefit of piano competitions is not necessarily the pressure to perform, but the pressure to practice. To have a clear and concrete deadline in front of you is quite motivating when it comes to practicing toward that goal.

Knowing that strangers will be looking for both the good and the bad of your art is a whole lot better than being told simply to practice in order to improve in a general way.

• Performance experience

Getting up in front of an audience to speak is one of the most widely feared activities in the world, and that’s only speaking! So getting up in front of an audience to play the piano is even more special, and playing your very best in a competition setting takes the experience to the next level. Performing before judges is nerve-wracking, but very exciting. And honestly, after a competition, a simple recital will feel like a breeze.

• Self-assurance

You have to be self-assured in order to be willing even to enter a competition, and your self-assurance builds as you continue to compete, no matter what the outcome. This helps you to be the kind of pianist who walks into almost any musical situation and says, “Sure, I can do that.”

That kind of attitude can open up the world to you, presenting opportunities that you may never have dreamed of, because you’re saying yes to experiences a less-assured person may have said no to.

• Networking

Networking is typically used as a business term, but it’s also used in the music world. Meeting other musicians and judges and building acquaintanceships at competitions can make a big difference in your piano career, even if you don’t necessarily plan on pursuing it professionally. Making a friend at an event may mean being asked to be part of a festival or being referred for a great gig, or maybe just finding a group of musicians to jam with.

In the end, piano competitions are less about becoming better than other pianists and more about becoming a better pianist yourself. Improving your personal best is the name of the game. That doesn’t mean, though, that the success of others should be ignored. The only great thing about our jealousies is that they can indicate what our desires are. Allow others’ successes and failures to motivate you on your own journey.

 

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!

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7 Qualities of the Best Piano Players

Qualities Of The Best Piano PlayersWhat do all of the best piano players in the world have in common? If you take a close look at what they’re doing, you’ll find a handful of similarities. All of them have incredible work ethic, attention to detail, and practice diligently everyday. On top of that, the best piano players in the world have studied with private instructors for years, taking advantage of an experienced player’s point of view.

All of these qualities of the best piano players are interrelated. It’s hard to practice diligently on a daily basis without having the work ethic to focus on the task at hand. And without attention to detail, diligent practice is almost always inefficient. Studying with a private instructor can help you stay focused, which aids in your attention to detail, and in turn keeps you motivated, which helps your work ethic. As an aspiring piano player at any level, these qualities can be learned and acquired.

Whether you view piano playing as a hobby that you do in your spare time, or a career path to performance on the world stage, these qualities should be carefully examined. As a casual piano player, maintaining all of these personal attributes can help you get better with minimal frustration. And as an up-and-coming maestro, efficient use of practice time can keep you moving forward and playing at your best!

1. Excellent Work Ethic

Every single piano player knows what it’s like to face challenges. What separates the best piano players from the rest of us is that they persevere through these challenges. Having the personal fortitude and work ethic to look at any difficult passage, and practice it until it’s perfect, is an attribute that you can learn, but will need to be cognizant of every day.

Work ethic doesn’t just stop with piano playing. It requires you to be focused on your work around the clock. Whether you’re a student or have a full-time career, make sure that your other obligations are taken care of to give you enough time to practice often.

2. Attention to Detail

Paying close attention to detail goes hand in hand with having a great work ethic. As you will need to be able to perfect those difficult passages and tiny issues with your piano playing after recognizing them, it does no good to have a fine-toothed comb and find small mistakes without the work ethic to fix it.

All of the best piano players are able to recognize the small intricacies of each passage on their own, and correct mistakes as they arise with diligent practice. If your experience level is not quite at the same point as professional pianists, this is where working with a private piano teacher is important!

3. Diligence

All of the best piano players realize that without consistent practice, their piano playing will not improve. Along with practicing, they play with a purpose. When practicing scales and arpeggios, they connect the work with the pieces that they are currently playing. Everything they do during each practice session has a distinct reason, and they focus on that. Without a purpose, the exercises and drills can easily become sloppy.

Along with the exercises prior to playing each piece, the best piano players focus intensely on each passage within the piece itself. Going back to the first two qualities, each piece requires incredible attention to detail, to make sure that the difficult passages are perfect, and if not, the work ethic required to make them perfect comes into play.

4. Commitment

You might think that the best piano players in the world had no need to have any private instruction to achieve greatness. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Every great musician, whether pianist or otherwise, has committed to studying with highly revered instructors prior to becoming who they are today. Private instructors can help to mentor you as a musician, and help you recognize the small details that you might overlook on your own.

Taking a private lesson on a weekly basis can help refresh your piano playing, and give you a second set of eyes and ears to make sure that your diligent practice isn’t going to waste. A private instructor can also help keep you motivated with different pieces that highlight your strengths, as well as work on your weaknesses.

5. Eagerness to Learn

In order to be a good piano student, you have to really want to learn how to play the piano! While this may seem painfully obvious, it is actually a very important trait. As with mastering most skills, learning to play the piano requires a great investment of your time. You need a true desire to learn piano that will keep you motivated through the hours of weekly practice you will need.

In addition to learning how to physically play the piano, you will also need to learn how to read music. In the beginning, you may only be able to read one clef at a time, but as you grow more comfortable with reading music, you will start to read them simultaneously — with the treble clef indicating what you should play with your right hand and the bass clef for your left. You will also need to memorize a vocabulary of musical terms that indicate the volume, speed, and other features of the music.

6. Willingness to Practice

A book sitting on your bookshelf does you no good unless you open the cover and read the words. Likewise, having access to a piano does nothing unless you are actually willing and committed to sitting down and practicing it regularly. Simply attending a piano lesson each week is not enough to master the skill of playing the piano. If you’re not revisiting the material your piano teacher taught you between lessons, you will likely forget much of what you have learned. Playing the piano also requires a great deal of muscle memory in your fingers, which can only be developed with regular practice over time.

7. Dedicatation

Although it has already been mentioned, it is worth repeating — the ability to learn piano requires a lot of time and practice. While you may have images in your head of a concert pianist performing an exhilarating piece by Beethoven or Chopin without breaking a sweat, this effortless performance is the result of many years of dedicated practice. In the beginning, you might struggle to even pick out simple melodies. There is no shame in being a beginner, but it’s important to realize that you will need to run a lot of drills, scales, and exercises to learn piano techniques that will lead you to more complicated pieces of music. At times, you may feel as though your practice is going nowhere and your abilities do not seem to be improving. Although you may want to give up, this is the best time to persevere!

With time, practice, and these qualities, almost anyone can learn piano. So what are you waiting for? There’s no better time than the present to start taking lessons and developing your skills.

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Science-Backed Rituals to Calm Your Nerves Before a Piano Recital

Tips On How To Calm Your Nerves Before A Piano PerformanceDo the butterflies in your stomach seem to turn into bats before each and every piano recital? You are not alone. Millions suffer from performance anxiety, or “stage fright,” from actors to professional athletes. But you don’t have to let this anxiety prevent you from letting your talent shine for the world to see!

Is anxiety affecting you before your piano recital? Look for these signs:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Trembling limbs or voice
  • Dry mouth or difficulty speaking
  • Cold, sweaty hands
  • Nausea or feelings of unease
  • Vision changes
  • Poor sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating at school or at work
  • Irritability

If you recognize those symptoms, you’re not alone. But you can calm piano recital jitters with these scientifically proven tips:

Lean on a friend.
Phone a friend for a laugh or support before your piano recital. Multiple studies have shown social interaction boosts relaxation and decreases stress, helping you feel more confident and calm by enhancing your feelings of social stability and belonging.

Warm your ticklers.
A Yale study showed that wrapping your hands around something warm, such as a cup of tea, increases feelings of calm. Why? Stress triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response, drawing blood and heat from your limbs to your core and sending signals to your brain that are interpreted as a sign of distress. Warm them up to switch the signal — and increase feelings of safety and comfort for your piano recital. Bonus tip: Black tea was found by a University College London study to lower cortisol more than placebo brews.

Exercise.
The endorphins produced during exercise are proven calm-inducers, according to research from Harvard Medical School. Bonus tip: Exercising outdoors in nature before your piano recital can boost that serenity.

Cut the clutter.
Physical clutter equals mental clutter. A Princeton study showed cutting clutter and organizing your surrounding environment boosts your sense of calm and order. All that clutter in your visual field overloads your brains neural pathways, increasing stress.

Don’t overlook the importance of a good night’s sleep.
Sleep affects not only your physical health, but anxiety and stress. Too little and it can make subsequent nights of restful sleep difficult to achieve, creating a vicious cycle of sleep problems. Make sure to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep for a few nights before your piano recital.

Smile.
Smile, even though your heart is racing… Research suggests smiling and laughter can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Ditch the donuts.
Research suggests sugary and processed foods can increase symptoms of anxiety. Kick your cravings and opt for nutrient rich foods, especially those packed with Vitamin B, which improves mental health; omega-3s, which help reduce depression and anxiety; and whole-grain carbs, which help regulate the “feel-good” hormone serotonin.

Be prepared.
Since most fears involve making mistakes, one of the best ways to beat piano recital anxiety is by knowing your material inside and out. In addition, prepare yourself beforehand by laying out clothes, keys, and any other necessities to prevent any additional anxieties associated with running behind schedule.

Tune in.
Research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden showed that music lowers blood pressure and stress hormones. However, not every song is a cure-all, so find the tunes that resonate best with you to reap the greatest rewards.

Meditate.
Scientists have discovered meditation increases grey matter in the brain, essentially rewiring the body to stress less. Meditation has positive effects on anxiety, mood, and stress symptoms, helping us analyze how our mind generates stressful thoughts and distance ourselves from them.

Goof off.
Kids and animals can easily play without ruminating on the things they “should” be doing. Playtime is not frivolous –in fact, experts say a variety of playtime activities can reduce stress.

Go silent.
Alarms and interruptions of all types, as well as persistent, even low-level noises can boost stress levels. Completely disconnecting from the radio, TV, alarms, cell phones, and internet (gasp!) can have a dramatic effect on stress and anxiety, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Don’t let your nerves run away with your piano recital. Rein them in with these proven tips, and you’ll be well on your way to performing and having a blast!

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Piano for Adults: How to Stay Motivated in Your Lessons

Piano Lessons For The Beginner AdultCommitment and motivation play key roles when it comes to learning anything new, especially as an adult; learning to play piano is no different! Whether you’re a beginner, or possibly returning to the keys, finding ways to stay motivated and engaged week after week is crucial to your success.

Before you get started, it’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to staying motivated. As an adult learning a new skill, you’re probably beginning with a specific goal in mind. Your goal should be both clearly defined and made known to your teacher, as it should be the cornerstone of all your lessons. If you have not done so already, take some time now to consider exactly what you’d like to achieve in the long-run with your lessons.

Now let’s explore a few tips for staying motivated:

  • Don’t Practice According to Deadlines

Students taking weekly lessons tend to practice songs according to the ‘deadline’ of their next lesson. Some try to master songs in the interim by setting unrealistic practice goals–and often the failure to get through, say, a two-hour session each day can become a source of frustration. Our tip here is to stop playing to the clock! Instead, aim to practice daily for a reasonable period of time that gives you the opportunity to actually enjoy the music you’re making.  Your progress will follow–even if not by your weekly ‘deadlined’ lesson–and that’s okay.

  • Don’t Limit Practice to Difficult Pieces

As adults, we tend to be much harder on ourselves than we were as children. You may be tempted to focus on your weak areas at the expense of pleasure. Don’t do that! Remember that even your piano practice should be a pleasurable experience for you. Make sure your practice repertoire consists of plenty of different types of music–not just the ones you’re struggling with. A good way to start your session is by warming up with a few standard scales and arpeggios, and any other minor assignments from your piano teacher. Then play a song or two that you enjoy and are fairly comfortable with, which will help build your confidence. Finally, approach the more challenging pieces. You’ll be amazed by how much this helps your psychological preparation and motivation levels.

  • Figure Out What You Love

Take some time to listen to a few of your favorite pianists and find songs that get you excited about playing! Let your teacher know what kind of music you’re interested in, so that you can work together to incorporate these types of songs into your lessons and practice sessions. Adult beginner piano lessons involve a sense of sincerity from the pianist–it’s only when you are actually connecting with and enjoying a piece that you can translate that passion to your audience.

  • Expect Mistakes

Even if it’s been a month or two already and your fingers are still not quite hitting the right notes, don’t worry. You will make mistakes, and many of them! When it comes to adult beginner piano lessons, it’s vital that you understand that your body will need time to process the new movements. In time, you’ll be playing with fewer and fewer mistakes.

  • Be Honest With Your Piano Teacher

Staying motivated on your journey to becoming a competent pianist will require a team effort from both you and your piano teacher. If you’re not feeling as motivated as you once were, it’s important that you discuss your challenges with your teacher as soon as possible. Consider turning one weekly lesson into a catch-up during which you revisit your initial goals and brainstorm how to make the lessons more enjoyable for you on a personal level.

Nobody really wants Beethoven to roll over, so keep going. We’re all rooting for you to succeed. Good luck!

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Photo by Asher Isbrucker