We’re back with 5 more practice tips! Hopefully our last post encouraged more playing at home and better results. If you missed it, check out Part 1 now to continue making your practice sessions more effective and enjoyable.
1. Being a pianist is much more than just playing the notes
It’s important to know where this piece of music came from. What were the composers intentions? What is the story behind the piece? You, as the pianist should know everything there is to know about it. What to bring out, what to tone down. You are the story teller and need to convey that meaning to the audience. This will only help you be more connected to the work and also remember it better too.
2. Write on your music
It's completely fine to add personal notes to your score, especially if you keep on missing something. It's always a good idea to make a photocopy of your score before writing on it so you'll always have a clean version as well.
3. Record yourself
We are lucky to live in the age where technology is ever present and accessible. Take advantage of this and record as much as possible! Not only will you have a track record of all your progress but you'll also be able to experience what your practicing as a listener rather than a player. Listen for something you like about your performance and something you may want to consider doing differently. It's even better if you're able to film yourself. This way you'll be able to see what you look like while performing.
4. Be in the right frame of mind
If you are hungry, tired, or simply not the mood- do not practice! You'll end up making more mistakes resulting in even more frustration. If you do need to play something, play a piece you know really well.
5. Reward yourself
At the end of your session, play your favorite piece as a reward and remind yourself of your hard work!
Let your teacher know how it's going at your next lesson, or ask them more about practicing at home! Are these tips helpful? Comment below with your success!
Feel like you need to switch up your practice routine? Stuck doing the same thing and doesn't seem to be working? Our teachers incorporate these tips into their practice routines and suggest students to do the same at home.
Everyone is different, so set up a practice atmosphere that works for you! This could mean you prefer peace and quite away from others or request the company of the entire family. Try be consistent with whichever space you choose as this will help keep you in your practice mindset. Have everything you need with you- like water, pencils, and erasers.
2. Warm up
Much like going to the gym and working out, it's essential to warm-up up for piano practice. Try to mix up your warm-up routine every day as well- this keeps the mind alway active. Try to avoid mindlessly playing through scales as much as possible. If you catch yourself wandering, change the routine, like changing the order of scale work. A warm-up is for the fingers but also for the mind, take the time do it properly.
3. Have a goal
Practicing does not mean only playing through your music. Have a goal for each practice session before you start practicing and try to accomplish that goal by the end. Doing so will help you see progress quicker and is extremely effective. Keep a daily diary of these goals and write what you were able to get done and what the new goal is for tomorrow. These goals should be small focused objectives, this will give a great sense of accomplishment when each goal is complete.
4. Be realistic
Slow and steady wins the race. Learning to play the piano is not something you can cram in a few hours, it will take time and daily effort. We understand you're busy, pianists are busy too. So, to make the most out of your practice time, practice little bits and pieces. Start with the hardest part of the music first. This could mean a measure or two. Or half a measure. Loop it until you're more comfortable with that section. It’s about quality, not quantity. It's also about accuracy over speed, especially when you're first learning a new piece.
5. Identify and overcome the problems
Locating the tricky spots will save you a huge deal of time in future practice sessions. Once you find these spots, create a plan for how you will fix them. Approach one problem at a time and differently. For instance, if it's rhythm you're struggling with, tap the rhythm out on the piano lid or play the same note in place of the written notes using a metronome. Always play these spots slowly until mastered, then gradually increase the tempo.
Stay tuned for 5 Practice Tips for Pianist, Part 2 coming out Monday, May 14th!
In the meantime, happy practicing! Incorporate these tips the best you can at home and talk about it with your teacher at your next lesson!
When you are new to piano lessons, the thought of playing at a recital can start your hands sweating, your feet shaking and induce nightmares of forgetting the music and falling off the stage. Though our recitals are friendly, fun events where you are more likely to stage dive and be passed from audience member to audience member, than fall off the stage in disgrace, we’ve come up with something even better for both our newbies and experienced players: Piano Parties!
Our Piano Parties and Piano Lessons are becoming the hit of the South Loop neighborhood in Chicago.
For our Kids
A fun music game starts the party off followed by a creative activity - last time we made up our own musical story. Afterwards, we move into the concert hall and each student has the opportunity to share a piece they've been working on. Playing on a concert grand is such a fun experience - we all enjoy it. Finally we end the party with snacks and conversation about our experience. Everyone leaves having had a relaxed, fun time.
For our Adults
We start off with wine and cheese and finish with wine and cheese like a beautiful ABA form composition (water is served for those who don't imbibe)! Following the first installment, we face off, as a group, to solve a musical challenge that students have been experiencing in their lessons. We also chat about the experience of performing, how to do it and how our teachers have solved heart stopping piano fiascos that occurred during their performances. Next, we migrate to the concert hall and each student, now in a very relaxed state, has the opportunity to perform on the concert grand. Everyone has a good time performing and then we return for our final installment of wine and cheese. We leave uplifted having shared a very enjoyable hour.
No matter the age or experience level, South Loop Piano Lessons' Piano Parties give our students the chance to experience, create and share their piano music in a fun, relaxed, environment. As pianists we want our students to feel comfortable sharing their skills and passions with their friends, families, and the world!
The benefits of coming to a piano party:
1. Make new friends
2. Learn and do fun activities that make you a more well-rounded musician
3. Practice performing in a friendly environment and overcome stage fright
Our next piano party will take place on Saturday, March 10th. Kids start at 3:00pm and Adults begin at 4:00pm. Join us for an unique experience and lots of yummy snacks!
Listening is Learning
If you are an adult starting piano lessons for the first time, you are probably a fairly high achiever with the desire to understand everything about piano playing and notation, like, yesterday. You question your posture and your hand position and the notes on the page and, oh yeah, "what did my teacher say I was suppose to do in this spot - get louder or get softer?” You finally start playing and hope that it, at least, vaguely sounds like its suppose to. You anxiously wait for your next lesson to find out.
But what if you already, intuitively, knew what it was suppose to sound like? What if you didn’t need to wait until you saw your teacher? What if you could self correct, right now? What if you could rely on the sound you heard to tell you whether your hand position was working or not? You CAN, if you practice listening. One of the most important, enjoyable, easy and often missed essential elements of practicing the piano is listening. This is why we, at South Loop Piano Lessons, have added Musical Field Trips to our adult curriculum. Every couple months we select an event that we believe is especially relevant and fun. You have the opportunity to attend with us and practice listening.
Attending a concert is similar to a writer reading many books in order to become a better writer. You, the pianist, attend concerts to learn, through observation and listening, how to become a better player. As you listen, consider things like: What do you like or don't like? What do you want to replicate or not? Its important to ask yourself questions like these as you listen. It tunes your ear and helps you, intuitively, begin to know what you want your music to sound like.
Consider these additional questions when you attend your next concert:
Please join us for out next field trip on Sunday, January 28th at 4pm for Piano Forte (1335 S Michigan) Foundation's annual Schubertiade, a celebration of Franz Schubert's life and music. We will enjoy the performance of "Die Schöne Müllerin", a song cycle based on the poems by Wilhelm Müller for piano and voice. It is considered one of Schubert's most important works and is widely performed.
We hope you will attend this performance with us and ask yourself the questions we suggested above. We will be there to help you along the way!
"I missed more than 9000 shots in my career
I've lost almost 300 games
26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot
I've failed over and over again in my life
And that is why I succeed"
What is it that enables Michael Jordan to keep bouncing back in the face of major failures, minor setbacks, sharp criticism and challenges?
What it is - you have too!
His Mindset…and loads of practice, of course! Today we're going to examine his mindset:
According to Stanford Professor Carol Dweck's book: Mindset, the New Psychology of Success , Michael Jordan has what is known as a Growth Mindset. It enables him to enthusiastically take on new challenges, effectively maneuver through failure and grow from rejection. The opposite of a Growth Mindset is called a Fixed Mindset.
Growth or Fixed -
The one YOU have will determine the challenges you take on the amount of effort you put in,
the way you handle failure, and how you feel about yourself and your practice.
Are you beginning to see how your Mindset can affect your Music?
Learning to play music on an instrument can be hard. Sometimes we just don't feel up to the challenge of a new piece. Its so much easier and safer for our ego to keep playing what we know. Sometimes it takes 100s of repetitions to get something correct but, often, after about 25, we're convinced we just can't do it and, probably, never will. Sometimes, our very own family buys into this belief and demand relief from the painful sound of our repeated failed attempts leaving us feeling utterly rejected.
I remember when I first started learning to play scales. I was determined to practice and practice until I got it. Up and down my fingers ran over and over and over again until my father cried out for "peace and quiet" so he could enjoy his dinner. Not understanding the stresses of adulthood, I was totally deflated and never did practice my scales as hard again.
Sometimes we get so despondent about our failed attempts, the new challenges and the criticism that we give up completely. Often I talk to students, like these, years later and they tell me how much they wished they had kept going. Fortunately, they have a 2nd chance and often start as adults.
Like Michael Jordan, we have numerous opportunities to fail. Also like Michael Jordan, we can choose to utilize a Growth Mindset and keep our fingers and voices bouncing along until we score big with the ability to enjoy music making the rest of our lives.
So how do we grow a Growth Mindset and which one are we starting with - Growth or Fixed?
Here is a simple quiz to help you figure out which one you're starting. Are you starting with a mostly Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset - One that will help you or hinder you? Circle a or b for each question.
In our next article, we'll give you 4 simple steps for growing your Growth Mindset.
NOTE: much of this article was adapted from Carol Dweck's book: Mindset, the New Psychology of Success.
We highly recommend it!
There are many parallels between how your child learns to talk and how she or he learns to sing. These processes happen organically. Although it takes several years for a child to move from babbling to saying words to speaking two-word sentences, she passes through all these stages in a seemingly effortless way; she seems to know how to teach herself these skills through imitation and practice.
At first many of her efforts are difficult to understand: "dog" may sound like "daw", for example, and grammatical errors are common. But gradually, by about the age of three or four, your child's speech becomes both intelligible and correct.
It's important for parents to recognize that musical growth also occurs in stages. Children pass through a "music babble" stage in which their movements and sounds don't necessarily seem truly musical - they are off the beat and not quite in tune. Over time, through observation and imitation, your child gradually aligns her music expression with the on-beat and in-tune models she experiences.
You, as the parent, instinctively translate your child's language attempts and offer a lot of support. Your child says "Ba," and you may ask, "Do you want a bottle?" You help shape your child's language experience through your interest and invovlement. But you may worry that you won't know how to recognize or suport emerging music behaviors.
It's simple! The best way to support musical growth is to engage in music activity. Listen to a variety of styles. Attend the free concerts at Millennium Park. Keep encouraging and celebrating your child's efforts to move and vocalize, even though it may take a while for you to see the connection between what he is doing and the music. Remember that a certain amount of physical maturation - and a lot of playful "practice" - is necessary before your child can learn to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm. The more your child develops musically, the more fun and ease he'll have learning to play the piano, guitar, drums, sing or whatever else he chooses.
This blog is about how to become the best musician you can become - whether you are a parent nurturing a young child or an adult facilitating your own musical growth. We will answer frequently asked questions and cover practical topics that catapult the enthusiastic student into a life-long love of making music at the piano.
Some topics that will be explored are:
Early Childhood Music
How to create a musical child from birth?
What age is the best age to start piano lessons?
Suzuki Piano Lessons
What's so special about Suzuki Piano Lessons
Will my child learn to read if they study Suzuki Piano?
Skype Piano Lessons in your Home
What are the Pros & Cons
How does it work?
Piano Technique & Musicality
The Athletic side of creating great music at the piano.
10 Easy Exercises you can do in 5 min to improve your Piano Playing.
How do I play music that speaks to people
Performance and Preparation
How to prepare for your first performance.
How to have the best piano performing experience of your life.
How to get your first gig.
Music and Public Speaking
How your understanding of music can help you in public speaking.
Musical Coaching for Public Speakers
Please feel free to suggest additional topics that you believe would be helpful.