Tuesday, August 10, 2021 by Jennie Higgins | Practice
Today I would like to talk about practice. Specifically practicing when you're busy.
We've all been there. We loved playing the piano when we first started. It was new and exciting. We had dreams of playing along to the songs on the radio, or playing in a band or in front of our friends and family. We started our lessons with eagerness and excitement. We practiced every day without fail. Then that practice wasn't as easy as it was in the beginning. Learning to read the notes got a little bit harder. Like learning a whole other language. But with my help (Mrs. Jennie, your teacher), it got easier to read the music. But what about the practice?
As life can get busy these days, practice can sometimes suffer. Kids are getting busy again with school about to start or is starting. Other activities also taking up time. Teens are busier with school work and exams and also extra activities. Then there are my adult students; work, hobbies, your own kids to schedule, or just wanting to hang out with people again now that COVID restrictions have relaxed. No matter where you are in your journey of this life, your time can eaten up by many things. So what do we do to help us get time to practice the piano that we are learning and longing to play?
Here are some tips!
Number 1 tip!! A little bit of practice is better than no practice at all.
When my life is busy, I try to get in just a little bit of practice to build the habit. I fit in 10 minutes, sometimes only 5 minutes.
The other evening, I was waiting for my husband, David, to finish mowing the lawn so we could sit down and watch some TV before bed. Even through it was 9:30 at night, I quickly went into the piano room and starting playing through my songs that I'm practicing. I have 5 songs right now that I am practicing. I only got through 2 songs in about 5 minutes and David came inside. Only 5 minutes. It wasn't much, but it made a difference. When I practiced more the next morning, I noticed that the 2 songs I had played in those 5 minutes went better than the 3 songs that I didn't get to practice.
If that little bit of time can help me, it can help you!
Tip number 2: Playing a song out of order!
So many of my students play our songs from the beginning to the end. Over and over we play. If there are too many mistakes, you get frustrated and start all over from the beginning. Why doesn't this work?
Well, think about it this way. You play from the beginning, get stuck and restart. The beginning of the songs gets so much practice and that part of the song becomes better than the rest. As you get a little bit further through your song, you get better. But the beginning of the songs is getting greater. But you never get to the end of the song without getting stuck. Do you see it? The end and the middle of the song isn't getting very much practice. "But I want to play the whole song perfectly!" I hear from my students over and over. Yes, me too. But let's break our songs into smaller parts.
When you start your practice, play through the whole song. Don't worry too much about mistakes. Fix them as you go, but don't go back to the beginning. You could circle the mistakes with a pencil and just keep playing through. Once you are finished playing through the song, find the trickiest part. Start there.
If you are not sure where to start out of order, use some dice to roll a number and start on that measure number. This way is great fun. OR play from the end of the song and work your way to the beginning. For example; start on the last line and play to the end. Then start on the 2nd last line and play to the end. And so on.
There are many ways of mixing up your practice time. But above all, practice makes us better musicians. And remember, don't practice till you get it right only one time. Practice until you can't get it wrong.
I look forward to helping you in your music journey.
~~~ Mrs. Jennie Higgins