Quick Tips

The 13 Most Important Practice Tips for Piano Success

By Hoffman Academy Team
5 practice tips

Whether you’re an absolute beginner or you’ve got years of experience, practice is your key to success. Want to make your practice more fun and effective? Here are thirteen practice tips you can use to practice effectively.

1. Know what you are going to work on

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to practice and not knowing what to do. If you are working with a teacher who gives you guided practice sessions, that can be a huge help. If your teacher isn’t supplying you with a plan, work with a parent or mentor to set a checklist for each practice. This type of preparation can make a huge difference in how quickly you will improve on your instrument.

2. Know how long you are going to practice for

This is really helpful for students of all ages. Younger students might be anxious to know how long they need to practice each day. For older students, it’s helpful to know that even a small amount of focused practice makes a big difference. Whether you are practicing for 15 minutes or an hour, make sure you set a goal before you start. Having fun? You can always add more time.

2. Start your practice with a warm up

Students should always begin their practice with a warm up. A good warm up will help students focus on their technique, posture, and develop finger strength. It also gets students in the zone and helps them focus on their music. At Hoffman Academy, we often refer to the warm up as “finger power.” Finger power includes playing scales, arpeggios, and chords. For beginning piano students, finger power can include reviewing a pentascale and practicing contrary and parallel motion. For intermediate and advanced students, a warm up could be practicing octave scales and arpeggios as well as practicing Hanon exercises.

After finger power, I encourage students to review a piece they enjoy playing. This can be a positive way to start their practice, especially before they work on their newer, more difficult repertoire. Playing a familiar piece reminds students how good it feels to play a song they know and what it feels like to play a piece completely learned. After their warm up, students are ready to dive into their newer pieces! For more tips for learning the piano, read our article Piano Exercises for Beginners: Warming up & Practicing Effectively. 

3. Be consistent

Practicing should become part of your routine, like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth. Do you practice at the same time every day? Staggered times throughout the week? Either way is okay, as long as you’re consistent from week-to-week. Make practice time an indispensable part of your life, and you’ll see progress so much faster.

4. Review past lessons

Looking forward to your next challenge is awesome. That kind of ambition will take you far! It’s also important to set aside time for review. You can review a piece that you enjoy playing, something that used to be difficult, or maybe an old finger exercise or game. Can you play your review piece as well as you could before? Only one way to find out!

5. Keep Going

This might be the most important practice tip I can give you: don’t give up. If you fall behind or miss a week of practice – it’s okay! Developing a routine supported by a successful practice schedule takes time. The occasional busy week or vacation doesn’t have to derail your progress as a piano player. If you miss a day or a week, recommit to your routine and work to get back into the swing of things.

6. Create an effective piano practice routine

Young piano students are often balancing homework, sports, and other extracurriculars along with piano. Creating an effective piano practice routine will help them manage their time at the piano while progressing on a weekly basis. An effective piano practice routine includes a warm-up, practicing new pieces, reviewing older pieces, sight reading, and improvising or composing. 

Building a consistent piano practice routine can be difficult. But once that routine is established, it’s easier to maintain! For more tips on learning to play piano and how to build an effective piano practice routine, check out our article Top Piano Practice Tips and Resources for Beginners. 

7. Focus on technique

Warming up presents the perfect opportunity to hone your technique! When doing scales and arpeggios, pay close attention to your posture, hand position, and finger movements. Correct technique is essential for playing efficiently and avoiding injury. For more tips and techniques for learning the piano, check out Piano Technique for Beginners. 

8. Review and reflect 

After each practice session, take a moment to review your progress and identify areas for improvement. Reflect on what worked well and what could be better and adjust your practice routine accordingly. 

9. Listen actively 

Find a recording of the piece you’re learning and listen to it as often as possible! Every piece in our unit books at Hoffman Academy has a listening track to accompany it. We encourage students to listen to their listening tracks before they play the piece. That way they are already familiar with melody and rhythms before they even sit down at the piano to play! Active listening to all kinds of piano music will help further your expression, phrasing, and interpretation in your own playing. 

10. Break down difficult sections

Knowing how to navigate the difficult sections will make practicing easier. Divide challenging passages into smaller sections and practice them separately. Focus on one hand at a time and first focus on finding the right notes. Once you can find the right notes confidently, then focus on playing the right notes with the correct rhythm. Do this for each hand before putting the hands together. 

11. Seek feedback 

Feedback from a qualified piano teacher will be one of the best ways to improve your playing. However, receiving feedback from peers or family can also help you identify areas of improvement. Constructive feedback can help you gain a different perspective on your playing and help you identify any difficulties with rhythm and notes. 

12. Practice mindfully 

Sometimes it can be easy to go into auto-pilot when practicing. However, being fully present and focused is when we’re going to get the most out of our practicing. Starting each practice session with a few deep breaths is a good way to ground yourself and bring your mind to the task at hand. 

13. Set clear goals for yourself

Do you want to learn all 12 major scales by the end of the year? Perhaps you know you’d like to learn Für Elise one day. Knowing what you want out of your piano studies will guide your daily practice. Define what you want to achieve out of each practice session. Whether it’s mastering a specific piece, improving technique, or learning new scales, having clear goals will keep you focused and motivated. 

Ready to take your practice to the next level? Hoffman Academy Premium members enjoy guided practice sessions for each lesson! Learn about the benefits of learning piano with Hoffman Academy. 

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