• Rosemary Burn MA, LTCL.

    Piano Tuition Devizes

    Piano and violin lessons for beginners through to advanced. Why not book a free trial lesson today?

  • Rosemary Burn MA, LTCL.

    Lessons with Rosemary

    Learning a musical instrument keeps your mind sharp, and it's a lot more fun than Sudoku!

  • Rosemary Burn MA, LTCL.

    Learn for any reason

    Studies have shown that learning a musical instrument strengthens the brain, with the greatest benefits found in those who began lessons when young.

Help / How to practise!

Tips for practising the piano.
 
How long should I practise? I get asked this question all the time, and my answer is -  it is often best to be economical with your time by concentrating on a clear goal that you would like to achieve before you get up from the piano stool. Many people spend ages playing through their pieces in the same way, establishing the same mistakes, until they are almost impossible to undo. I think a good analogy is that it is rather like driving a car which has developed some mechanical failures, and rather than looking under the bonnet and finding the problem, you keep your foot on the accelerator and press on until your poor old car is beyond repair.
 
A common problem I come across with my students is pausing at bar lines, where perhaps a chord comes in in the left hand. The solution is not to take a long run up back to the beginning (which you have probably already mastered), and hope that when you get to the trouble spot it'll be OK next time round. It won't, and in fact you will have just reinforced the problem by repeating it. Isolate the problem by going back to the bar before, and perhaps draw a mental stop line immediately after the the trouble spot. Play to there, very slowly, and gradually integrate back into the piece, by going a little further back and beyond.
 
This brings me to slow practice - I can't stress enough how valuable this is, although I know it does sound a little dull. As I say to my students, a piece played in 'slow motion' which is more or less note perfect, with beautiful tonal colour and phrasing, (Albert Hall ready!) is a great place to start building speed. 
 
Problems often occur where there is a jump to a chord. A technique I teach my students to overcome this is called 'shadow practice'. Go to the note or chord before the jump, and do the leap as fast as possible, landing lightly without pushing the notes down. Don't worry if you miss    the first few times - your hand will get used to finding the right distance, at which point you can try this with your eyes closed. You will be surprised how soon your hand will remember the distance required, and you will begin to have the confidence to fly to it in the context of the music.
 
Should I practise with a metronome? This is another common question. In the early stages of learning an instrument I find that many people do not feel a clear sense of the beat whilst playing, so adding a metronome to keep in time simply causes confusion, with the metronome doing its thing, while the piano is still not corresponding to the beats. However, in order to establish this necessary 'inner conductor' you can use a metronome with your scales or single notes, using different note values, and perhaps even dotted rhythms. This needn't be done for too long! For more advanced pianists the metronome is a useful tool for checking your tempo is constant during a long piece, just by turning it on at two or more different locations.
 
There is always a solution to any problem - often it is case of relaxing and taking a step back and a strategy will come to you. I have shown you a couple of tips - why not contact me if you would like to ask me anything?

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Musical Training Optimizes Brain Function
 
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