The piano practise conflict.
Many diligent students who practise daily get stuck and don’t do well. Here’s what often happens to them.
Practising daily = Discipline,
Discipline = Rigid practise routines = Practise as a duty rather than a joy,
Practise without joy = Stress and tension which causes tight hands and shoulders, leading to bad playing technique.
It’s the exact opposite of the piano teachers goal, which is for the student to be relaxed and creative during piano practise time.
Scheduling for creative practise
The way piano practise is scheduled matters. My years of teaching and talking about how good practise scheduling helps students practise creatively, has taught me that parents & students of all ages often just don’t realise this.
- Cultural attitudes here in India that value hard work can often make parents praise piano students who slog unnecessarily. Even when this slogging creates stress and bad technique and the student bangs on the piano keys, sometimes leading to pain and injury.
- Many new to piano playing can’t hear the difference between banging and playing the right way.
- Many are ignorant about repetitive stress injury and why good playing technique is important. And I’ve seen a few foolish students who felt playing through injury was a sign of passion for music and was a badge of honour.
The truth is, relaxed piano students do better, learn faster & often just ‘get’ things that other students struggle to achieve. And the way practise is scheduled is important as it has a huge impact on whether a piano student plays out of duty or for joy.
Here’s 7 Scheduling Tips that make daily piano practise relaxed, creative and effective
- 2 or 3 small practise slots are better than a single slot because students are more attentive after a break.
- Schedule longer slots than required. Students need time to relax between activities and may come to the piano late, then get so involved that they want to stay and play longer.
- Schedule an extra slot, so piano students have a choice when they’re not in the mood at the same time each day
- Creativity grows from having time and mental space, and piano students sometimes need to sit around, idle before and after practise time. This time helps their mind absorb any innovative or creative moments during their practise, and retain it for the next session.
- Piano students need to explore their instrument on their own, outside of what is taught in class. It’s not wasting time, but rather, it’s a student using knowledge gained in piano class & piano practise, to explore his/her innate ability. It’s wonderful when this happens!
- Schedule practise holidays : One or two days each week (not consecutive days). Plus 3 consecutive days each month.
- On busy days, a little is better than nothing. Play, rather than practise, if there’s no time. Even 2 minutes with a section of a piece you enjoy.
- Don’t just schedule practise, make time to PLAY. Play your favourite pieces at the end of the day. Or play a line of music you like – just a minute in between some other activity. Play to relax, because that’s what learning the piano is about.
The importance of the practise holiday
Practise holidays are essential and diligent students often come back from practise breaks, playing better. Scheduling the break tells the student that there’s some leeway in their routine. And gives students days when they can just ‘BE’ and use practise time to do something different without guilt. These breaks in the practise routine are very important for creativity.
Piano practise is a very solitary occupation and practise holidays let the student have a little leeway and choose their routine. As do the scheduling suggestions in points above.
It’s that element of choice that brings freedom, creativity and passion to discipline of daily practise.