Whether you’re an adult or a teenager, finding enough practice time at the piano can be challenging, to say the least! In fact, our schedules can become so busy that many people just throw their hands up in despair and don’t practice at all.
Please, don’t let this happen to you!
The solution is simpler than you might realize, and I’ve found that if we look at another activity in our lives, we can successfully transfer what we learn back to the piano and benefit from the process.
For instance, let’s take fitness. We all want to get in shape and be more physically fit. And as you know, one of the best ways to do this is to devote an hour or so every day to exercising. We can go to the gym for an hour-long workout. Or go for a long walk, run, or swim. Or alternate workouts with intense yoga sessions. If we do continue this “hour a day” schedule for a few months, we’ll definitely get in shape.
So why don’t more of us do this? It’s because we either have other demands on our time or we have other things that are more important to us, such as spending time with our family. After all, we can’t “do it all!”
Deep down, we regret not exercising.
But what if we took another approach? What if we did 5 minutes of stretching as soon as we woke up in the morning? And then walked up or down a few flights of stairs every couple of hours at work, instead of always taking the elevator.
And guess what? After doing that, we suddenly feel the desire to do a little yoga while watching TV at night, instead of just sitting on the sofa. We feel the desire because our body has already done a little exercising today and it wants more. (If it doesn’t want more the first day you try this, keep going. It will eventually.)
It’s a positive cycle. Exercise begets more exercise.
In the same way, practicing begets more practicing.
And not just at the piano. The goal is continual involvement with music. That’s what’ll get you to where you want to go.
How about playing your favorite song one time before you head out in the morning? (If family members are still sleeping, use a keyboard with headphones.) Believe me, if you start the day like this, you’ll want to come back for more later on! And if you drive to work, don’t just listen to random top 40 on the car radio; listen to a playlist of a pianist you’d like to learn more about. Whether it’s Art Tatum or Elton John, Spotify playlists will easily give you a month’s worth of quality listening.
Then, in the evening, don’t give up if you don’t have a full hour or two for practice. Take that same song you played once in the morning, and work on better left hand voicings. Or a more complex bass line. Or play your current bass line more “in the pocket.” Or practice your soloing over the song’s chord changes. Practice the same thing for a week and you’ll see improvement and feel better about your playing.
Remember: practicing begets more practicing.
You don’t have to spend an hour at the piano every time you sit down. It’s the consistency and “connecting thread” that will keep you going and improve your playing.
Above all, have fun!
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