Musician On The Net – Information and tips

Information and advice for passionate musicians

Five Practice Mistakes Piano Students Make 

We all know from practicing your instrument is important in order to reinforce skills learnt in the lesson. But are you practicing effectively? Below are  five listed students often make while practicing. Avoiding these mistakes will make your practice time shorter, more effective and of better quality. 
Mistake Number one: Mindless practice 
 What do I mean by this? Let me paint the picture for you. You are working on some Bach. You make a slip in the music, and you play the one bar over and over again, but instead of getting it right, the more times you perform that bar, the worse it becomes. Mistakes become more and more obvious, and eventually you give up because it doesn’t seem to be helping. 
There’s quite an easy fix for this. First of all, why did you make the mistake? Was it a wrong note? Did you miss some detail in the music? Are you tensing up just prior to the mistake you made. Once you know the reason why you made the mistake in the first place, you can fix it. It might mean playing that bar slowly, and not playing the next note until your hand is in the right position and you know what the note is, before playing the note. It might mean doing some stretching and relaxation to get rid. Tension in the body. Mindlessly playing the same !ection over and over again is counterproductive. 
Mistake Number 2:  It’s not a race. 
A very common mistake many of my students make is playing a passage dry too fast, to the point where vital details are missed.  Your aim in practice should not be to play at tempo all the time; in fact, that should come later once you know the piece wel.  

When playing your pieces, slower is better. Play slow enough that you felt the it’s, rhythms and dynamics correct. I also recommend playing your pieces as slow as possible once a day. This trans your brain to remember all the information.  By doing this, you will find yourself playing almost at speed during the lesson, as your brain will memorise the notes. Hand motions you use. 
Mistake Number 3: Can you hear yourself as you play? 
Sometimes, we can become so focused on details of notes and accuracy that we forget about the sound wee making. Music is beautiful, and we should strive to make it sound that way. Often we don’t listen enough to the tone we are producing. 
To help with this, a simple technique such as scales, breathing exercises or long tone practice can help. By taking our brain off the music and playing technique, we are more likely to hear the sound we are making. Switching between pieces the technique can also help when your tone appears sloppy.  I also try to think the note before playing it and hear the next bar in my head and before starting a piece. 
Mistake number 4:  Practicing for too long. 
I know you could be shocked about this one, as many people think practising for long periods is good. This, however, is not true in my experience. Practising for too long can cause tension and you can get exhausted. Quality after than quantity. 
I like to take a break 45 minutes or so and stretch, get a drink and then come back to it. Every few hours, it’s good to go outdoors, for a walk or do something unrelated to music. I also find that it refreshes you and makes difficult passages shine when coming back to it. 

Mistake Number 5: Practicing while under the weather 
Many students have done this. Including myself. It’s tempting to push yourself to the limits when you have an exam coming up, or an audition. I have usually paid for this though, but struggling on the day, not able to give it my best and once having to cancel altogether. 
You are better off resting for that day or a few days. You might only have a cold, but playing the piano is physically demanding, and your brain can feel fuzzy from medications.  And taking that break actually can help mature your playing, as the brain processes the music even though you are not playing. I’ve even noticed that I play much better after a few days off! 

2 comments found

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