Do you want to improve your piano skills but don’t know where to begin?
Whether you just want to learn some simple melodies on the piano or you’re dreaming of becoming a brilliant pianist, proper practice is inevitable.
It’s not just about the amount of practicing, it’s the quality of practice that matters.
By making your practice session effective, you’ll avoid spending endless hours of going through your piano piece without getting the results you want.
So how do you practice effectively?
There is a number of piano practice tips you should consider.
First of all, you should try to practice in a calm environment with no distractions. That will help you focus, get into the flow, and make the best out of that time you spend practicing.
While practicing, you should pay attention to certain things that will help you stay disciplined and have efficient piano practice sessions.
So, here are our piano practice tips!
How To Improve Your Piano Skills
1. Create a practice plan
If you’re reading this, you’ve already set a goal to actively work on your piano skills.
You’ll probably start practicing regularly, with a lot of enthusiasm. And that is great! However, it’s easy (and normal) to fall back eventually and start neglecting your piano practice. Things just get in the way.
You can avoid that by creating a realistic practice plan. Choose when, how long, and what you’re going to practice.
If you want to know what the ideal amount of time per day is – there’s no clear answer. It mostly depends on your experience and skills. Beginners will most likely benefit from shorter sessions, and skilled pianists will require (and endure) hours of practice.
To make the plan realistic and effective, adjust it to your goals. Do you want to truly master your piano skills? Do you simply want to improve your muscle memory to play your favorite songs?
Adjust your piano practice schedule accordingly.
2. Find the flow
As we’ve mentioned before, it’s not only about how much time you put into practice but about how you practice.
To make the best out of your practice time, you really need to be present and completely committed to what you’re doing. That’s what the so-called flow state is all about.
Remove all the distractions, find a peaceful environment, and focus on the task at hand.
You’ll get better results but also generally feel better after each session. Also, this will help you ‘use’ the flow state in other tasks in your everyday life which can be nothing but beneficial.
3. Keep the right posture
The importance of the correct body and hand posture is something you’ll hear a lot about in piano school and often not as much in the online piano learning lessons.
If you’re practicing by yourself, you need to keep reminding yourself of the straight back, relaxed shoulders and curved fingers.
To hold your arms and elbows at the correct 90-degree angle, put your sitting bench far enough from the piano. But not too much – you should be able to reach all of the keys without scooting.
By paying attention to maintaining the right posture, you’ll sound significantly better and avoid straining or hurting yourself.
4. Warm up
Treat your piano practice like any other exercise. If you do so, you’ll know you have to warm up first.
This is important especially if you’re an advanced player indulging in more complex pieces. So play some scales and play with tempos first. There are many ways to warm up – choose what suits you best.
It will only take a couple of minutes and could do wonders for your fingers’ flexibility and overall concentration.
Also, before moving on with your practice, it’s a good idea to repeat what you’ve learned in the last session or lesson rather than starting with something completely new. That’s how you’ll begin your practice session with more confidence.
5. Use correct fingers
If you want to practice correctly, you need to use the correct fingering.
The easiest way to do it is to learn it from the very beginning of playing the new piece. You’ll have to be focused on it only at first and then it will get into your muscle memory.
If you’re a beginner, you might not see a big difference if you use your next finger for that particular note instead. But once you start with the fast tempos and complex melodies and do a finger improv, you’ll bump into some problems.
6. Divide and conquer
This is where playing and practicing the piano differ. Practice implies dividing the piano piece in smaller sections.
When you mess something up, don’t always go back to the start. Stick to that bar and keep repeating it until you feel comfortable with it, even if it’s just a couple of notes or chords.
If you keep going back to the start, you will know the beginning much better than the rest of the song. You’ll also spend time on that rather than using it for something you actually need to improve.
Before every practice session, you should have a clear goal about what you’re going to work on, but don’t be afraid to change it a bit if you notice a weak spot. Polish that part first!
7. Play with separate hands
Another way of polishing specific parts of the song is by practicing it with separate hands.
Until you’re absolutely fluent in sight reading, you should always start off a new piece like that. Practice with the right hand to get a grasp of the melody. Master the chords or notes of the left hand.
On the other hand (we couldn’t resist the pun), you shouldn’t practice with your hands separate for too long. It’s best to do it for a segment of 1-2 bars and then practice it with both hands before continuing to the next part.
Playing the piano while keeping the correct rhythm can be challenging for experienced piano players, let alone newcomers.
It’s normal that you don’t pay attention to the tempo when you’re learning notes. But once you start to practice longer segments, it’s crucial that you count correctly.
To improve your tempo accuracy and overall feel for rhythm, try counting out loud. Eventually, you won’t need to do that to stay in time.
Using a metronome is another effective method of checking if you’re on the right track.
So, count to make it count!
9. Take it slow
To improve your rhythm, but also the quality of your overall performance, you should start practicing with reduced speed.
For example, if you decided to learn an advanced piece and there is a ‘vivace’ on the top corner of your sheet music, try to play it at half a speed at first. Then when you feel confident enough, start to gradually increase it.
This will also help you to remember the notes better, enhance your technique and leave you with fewer weak spots when you’re perfecting your performance in the end.
10. Choose what you love
Last but not least: play the music you enjoy!
We know it doesn’t sound like a secret tip but it’s what music is about, right? And why shouldn’t it be applied to practicing?
In many online learning courses and traditional piano lessons, you will learn how to play the piano through given songs.
That’s good since they are suitable for your level of experience and the piano topic you’re learning but the drilling and repetition can sometimes become tedious, especially if you’re not fond of the song.
So if you have the possibility to choose or you’re picking a new song to learn, immerse in something you truly like. That’s how you’ll be motivated, engaged, and persistent to keep up with your practice routine.
Check out our list of easy piano songs to learn here.
Piano Practice Tips – Final Thoughts
The best way to master any skill is to simply keep at it on a regular basis, and piano is no different. While you can learn how to play some popular songs quickly and easily, to really sound good you must be patient and persistent.
We hope this list of tips and tricks made it easier for you to know what’s important for piano practice. If you stick to it, you will start to see results in no time.
However, the progress is usually not a clear and easy path so you have to be prepared for unexpected setbacks, especially if you’re after intricate and enhanced piano skills.
Don’t worry though, once you start practicing regularly, it will become a part of your routine and you will start to enjoy it more and more.
So, create your practice plan, get into the flow state, work on smaller sections in the correct way, and you’ll be on the right track to becoming an excellent piano player!
Still struggling to practice the piano effectively, why not try online piano lessons to guide you even further?