Hoffman Academy Blog

Music Notes: How to Practice Without an Instrument

You’re going on vacation for a week and just remembered: You have a recital the day you get back! What should you do? Let Hoffman Academy teacher Stephanie give you some tips on how to practice without an instrument!   

As musicians, there are times when we want to work on our craft, but we don’t have access to an instrument. Don’t worry, there are lots of ways we can practice music without having a piano in front of us.

Practice in Your Head

Studies show that rehearsing an activity in your mind can sometimes be just as effective as doing the real thing! Get out your music book or use your memory and play through the whole piece in your mind. This way you can test your knowledge of the piece without relying on your muscle memory. You’ll really need to know how it goes! One famous pianist named Walter Gieseking (Geese-e-king) was known to learn new pieces away from the piano first, sometimes learning and memorizing an entire concerto on the train ride to his next concert!

Off-Bench Activities

If you don’t have an urgent song to learn, you can still keep up on developing your sense for music while away from home. Actively listening and singing to music, especially while reading the sheet music, is one great idea. Or, try working on other musicianship skills such as note or chord recognition, rhythm practice, or even ear training. Reading and learning about the composers (like Beethoven, Brahms, and Joplin) can be interesting and very helpful to understanding the music you’re learning.

Finger Exercises

Finger exercises can also be a really helpful way to develop your finger strength when away from a piano. Some of our favorites are the Tap ‘n’ Squeeze and the Cave-In Challenge. You can also do piano exercises like Stepping and Skipping on a table or desk. Check out Lesson 148 to see how Mr. Hoffman teaches his students this exercise!

Bring Some Games!

If you have a younger musician, our website features lots of fun printable games and activities that help teach music theory. Visit our Music Learning Resources page, or let them play our Online Games while waiting at the airport!


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