So little back story – when I was in high school – I probably was the worst piano student why?
1. I over practiced (is that a real thing? Lol yup) – I would spend 6-8 hours a day practicing but I wasn’t careful so mistakes would creep in and I was so focused on “practicing” so I would end up thinking my mistakes were right. (I also refused to wear my glasses mostly cause I thought I looked like Groucho Marx with them. So mostly played by ear lol and when you learning advance music – doesn’t matter how good your ear is – mistakes will happen if you can’t see or just play by ear). So after each lesson, I would spend hours trying fixing my mistakes and like anything in life – mistakes are hard to undo. So you can guess how successful I was. Always better to try to avoid mistakes instead!
2. I practiced ahem lol should I say? Ok here goes …. I use to read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books while practicing. Because I was spending hours not focused – I would become bored so practicing took back seat (kind of a drone in the background) while the Hardy Boys solved fought pirates – don’t ask me but I remember that story line. No idea how I was able to multi-task like that but I did kinda of I guess lol
3. I didn’t have a plan – I knew what my weekly assignment were obviously and that I had to learn my pieces before festivals or exams but I didn’t know the steps in between – it is so important to have goals (not just weekly goals). So it always took me a lot longer to learn pieces.
4. I played too quickly – I somehow thought if I play fast and rush through things I would learn quickly…. So wrong – if I had only slowed down to the point that it was painful to play – then I would have been fine. Instead I rushed through everything creating tension and wrong notes.
5. I didn’t understand rhythm – I did not have a strong understanding of how to feel rhythm or understand the mathematical way it all worked. I’m currently working on a book on how to teach children rhythm (if you want to be on the list for early release – hit me up)
6. I didn’t understand the historical references in my pieces. I only half paid attention in music history not really understanding what was happening. It was just random details I learnt for my exams – there was no connection between that and what I was playing.
Practice with purpose not with the length in mind – be “in the zone” as my choral conductor Wes Janzen use to tell us in university.
Don’t multi-task – so that Instagram’s notification can wait during practice time – maybe turn off your phone.
Sit down with your teacher and learn his/her plan and help create that plan – be invested in your lessons.
Slow down – the slower you go the better you will play. Imagine learning a piece without wrong notes or rhythm issues because you could see what was happening before it happened and then all you had to do was speed up the piece? Yup that’s what good practicing is. This will help you understand rhythm as well.
Learn the history behind your music …. want to learn more why and how? Read my past blog post