Let’s face it, practicing sometimes downright stinks. I know, I know, as a teacher I should never say that but I’ve always liked being honest with my students just as I always appreciated my teachers begin honest with me. The truth is, knowing something like playing the piano or being a great tennis player is great, but the path to getting there is not always the easiest nor the most pleasant. Just ask Malcolm Gladwell who wrote The Outliers. In his enlightening book, he discovered that it takes on average about 10,000 hours to become an expert an something, anything fo that matter. Who in the world has 10 hours to spare, let alone 10,000 hours!
That was the bad news, the dunk your head in the cold water of reality kind of bad news. The good news that I will share with you today is that there is a way to not only be a great piano player, but also a way to actually enjoy reaching that goal. Crazy, right? But it’s one hundred percent true, I promise you. The secret to truly enjoying the journey of learning to play the piano is to realize that first, it’s not like you’re being obligated to do this like, for instance, learning math in school, so it’s not supposed to feel like a chore in the first place. Secondly, this is music we’re talking about and music is downright awesome so why would we want to turn it into a chore anyway?
So with all of that out of the way, I want to share with my top 5 tips of how to make your piano practice not only effective but also enjoyable. If you don’t believe me just yet, I don’t blame you, but all I ask is that you trust me and read on.
CONSISTENCY IS YOUR FRIEND
You may have heard that in order to become a great piano player or musician, you need to put in hours a day, relentlessly, day in and day out. Now perhaps if your goal is to be a virtuoso of a particular instrument this may be true, but my guess is that what you want is to learn how to play piano so you can have fun, sings some songs, play some tunes and enjoy music. Am I on the right track? The great news is that if that’s your goal, it really doesn’t matter so much how time you put in to practice as much as your practice consistently every day. Whether it’s an hour or even 5 minutes, do it EVERY day and you will see wonderful things happen and your fingers will do magical things.
IF ALL YOU’VE IS 5 MINUTES A DAY, MAKE IT COUNT
Having said that it doesn’t matter whether you have an hour or 5 minutes, I want to add that if you do indeed only have five minutes a day, okay let’s say 15 since we both know you can squeeze in a bit more, you need to make the most of the time you do have. Set goals, follow the courses and stay on track. It’s very easy to get distracted when practicing the piano and play things we may already know or be all over the place. Focus on a goal, learning a song, finishing a course or learning to play faster and stay on it until you’ve conquered it. Staying focused works in all areas of life including music. Make each practice count!
CHOOSE FUN EXERCISES
Another thing to keep in mind when practicing the piano is that you have to keep it fun. Yes, I know you’ve probably heard that you need to practice scales with a metronome until you’re blue in the face and although their is a small truth to that, you can still keep it fun. Music is meant to be enjoyable and practicing should be no exception. We all know that time flies when you’re having fun so if we make a habit of choosing fun exercises then time will fly by.
An easy way to make it fun is by taking a piece you love and creating technical exercises out of it. For instance, if you love Mozart Piano Sonatas, you can practice sight reading a new one every day for a few minutes or practicing arpeggios from a passage within one of the sonatas as an arpeggio exercise. The point is, there’s no need to make practice exercises long and boring. Choose some great music and go at it.
LEARN WHAT YOU LIKE
A common misconception is that when learning to play the piano, everyone has to learn classical music such as Beethoven, Mozart or Chopin. This is simply not true. The quickest way to lose interest in playing the piano is by choosing music that is boring to you. Instead, choose tunes, pieces or songs that appeal to you. Remember that you are doing this for a love of music, not to impress anyone. Okay maybe you are trying to impress someone but you still want to impress them with music you love, right?
By choosing music you love, learning to play the piano will be a pleasurable experience that you look forward to every day instead a drag that you’re trying to get through. Trust me on this one, many beginners make this mistake and it’s a simple and powerful one to avoid. Play fun music!
REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE
Closely related to the previous tip of playing music you love, on the rare occasion that you are having trouble finding time to practice or making time, remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place. My guess is that learning to play the piano is something you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time. That being said, wouldn’t it make sense that it should be something that you actually want to do and not something that you feel forced to do?
Keep it fresh in your mind that you want to fulfill a dream and every day of practice will be a pleasurable and enjoyable one, I promise you that.
So with all of that said, off you go, play away! Have a great time, listen to lots of music and most importantly, enjoy the process, you are now in the musicians club.