1. The first time you play a piece be extremely careful not to
make mistakes with notes or rhythms. Think 10 times and play
once – Franz Liszt
2. Divide the piece into short sections or phrases for
effective practice. For a new piece, repeat one section 4-8
times before moving to the next. Then join sections. It’s
better to practice well and make significant improvement in one
area than to tackle too many aspects or too much of the music
3. Begin practice with the last section of a piece, then move
to the next-last till you have reached the beginning. This is
useful when a piece is harder at the end, and as a memorisation
technique. You should be able to start playing from any bar in
the piece if you want to be secure in performance.
4. It is better to play slowly and accurately than play too
fast early on. You don’t want to develop bad habits – that’s
not productive practice. Practise very slowly; progress very
fast – Stephen Heller
5. Count aloud when practising. You could also mark the beat
with one hand if you are playing hands separately.
6. It is good to end the practice of a piece by playing it
slowly (1/2 speed), including the details in your playing. Your
brain tends to remember the last way you played a piece most
7. Play every note staccato. This helps strengthen memory and
finger lifts, which are often the weak part of finger
8. Use variety. Any one method will dull your brain if used too
much. This is the same with practising one piece or one part of
piece for so long that you get tired.
9. Sit still and sit up, as posture affects your playing and
10. When you are ready to perform, play for others often. This
way, you will discover your weak areas of technique or memory,
as nervousness tends to uncover these insecurities.
For more articles about piano playing please visit:
About Li-San (author):
Over the past 8 years, Li-San has taught over 70 different
students, including children from the age of 5, teenagers,
adults and seniors. She currently teaches students ranging
from beginner to advanced levels, in the subjects of Piano,
Theory of Music and Musicianship.