Here are 30 ways to practice a piano piece, after you’ve played it through once. Practicing with these ideas will keep your practice sessions fresh, invigorating, and productive. Have fun!
1. Play the piece again, at the same tempo. See if you play it better the 2nd time, since you’re warming up.
2. Play the piece again, at a slightly faster tempo.
3. Play the piece again, at a slightly slower tempo.
4. Play the piece again, a LOT slower.
5. Practice the left hand alone.
6. Practice the right hand alone.
7. Isolate a difficult measure or phrase and practice it 10 times.(or 20, or 30.)
8. Play the piece slowly, with the goal of listening to every note.
9. Play the piece again and notice the relationship between the two hands.
10. Identify all the chords and pencil them in above each measure. Then think about this chord progression as you play through the music again.
11. Sing the melody.
12. Sing the bass line.
13. Play the bass line while you sing the melody. (Or vice versa: play the melody while you sing the bass line.)
14. Sing the chord voicings as arpeggios.
15. Clap the rhythms.
16. Play the piece as you count the beats out loud (1-2-3-4).
17. Play the LH part as written and improvise a little on the right hand part.
18. Memorize the piece, one measure at a time.
19. Check your fingerings throughout.
20. Play it again and enjoy it more.
21. Experiment with different articulations (staccato, legato, etc.)
22. Think about the historical era and culture of the music. Let this deepen your awareness and appreciation of the music as you play it again.
23. Pick one phrase and practice it until you can play it perfectly. (Don’t be in a hurry; this may keep you busy for a while!)
24. Begin practicing the piece in sections, starting at the beginning.
25. Begin practicing the piece in sections, starting at the end.
26. Practice the 1st measure, then the 1st & 2nd, then the 1st, 2nd & 3rd, etc.
27. Practice the final measure, then the last 2, then the last 3, etc. Work backwards like this until you reach the beginning.
28. Play the piece again and exaggerate the emotional quality. If it’s lively, play it very lively. If it’s tender, play it very tenderly. See how far you can go while staying within the realm of good taste.
29. Play it again, pretending you’re the composer. (Hey, it worked for the great pianist Vladimir Horowitz.)
30. If you’re using an electronic keyboard, play the piece again using a different sound (piano, electric piano, strings, brass, harpsichord, organ, marimba, etc.) The piece will sound fresh every time.
Have fun trying each of these techniques. They’ll help you learn written music better and keep your practice sessions inspired and invigorated. If you want to become a better improviser, I have some videos for you HERE. Enjoy!