Quite a few of my most supportive piano parents went through phases when they got upset with feedback. They had children who played the piano daily and yet, achieved very little. Parents new to piano music often can’t hear the difference between good and poor playing. It’s important then, to have parents attend piano class and to listen to what effective piano practise sounds like.
‘Correct playing happens. . . Some of the time’
That’s what many piano students say, when they get something right. When students are asked how they got it right ‘some of the time’ they often say it’s luck.
If it’s luck, then the power to play well does not belong to the student, but to chance. Students often don’t realise that they play daily, disregarding their teachers instructions. They end up spending more time at the piano than than they need to, often working very very hard for small gains. These students work hard, but not smart. They don’t understand that there’s value in learning piano practise techniques.
Students need to play the piano, as well as practise. It takes them time to understand that there's a difference & to learn to practise right.
Practise lessons from the diary of a housekeeper
My maid is on leave this month. She does a few small chores for me once a week, that make my life easier and give me some free time. I wasn’t successful at getting a replacement. I could say that I’ve had bad luck. But that’s not the case. Many of the other families she works for have got substitutes.
I haven’t because I chose not to do this.
Because there’s payback to getting a substitute, that is not acceptable to me right now. I will need to be flexible with work time slots and adjust if the maid is late. I know from past experience, that anything from 30 minutes, to a couple of hours late, to not arriving at work at all, is the norm here. While I might be lucky and get a maid who arrives on time, I’m not willing to take the chance of my daily routine disrupted.
Taking responsibility, means that the power to change things rests within me.
I can change my situation by making different choices
Taking responsibility for luck
If we say that piano practise was effective because of luck, we need to ask ourselves whether that luck just happened by chance or whether the way practise was done created conditions that brought about that luck? Can the piano student change the way he or she practises, so that practise brings clarity, and the student is able to see what made it effective? And so, take responsibility for that luck and for making it happen again and again?
Here are some ideas on how to do that.
8 Steps to help students ‘practise’ during practise time
- Read what’s written in the homework book and follow instructions. Young children often need their parents around at first, until reading the homwork book becomes a habit.
- Record small sections of practise done in class and take a look at it at home, before you practise.
- Divide your piano homework into 3 practise sections, practising each section during a different time slot, with breaks between slots.
- Schedule an extra slot, so that you have a little flex in your schedule.
- Practise 5 days a week and schedule 2 non-consecutive days away from the piano. Students who take a weekly practise holiday are relaxed and therefore more creative at practise time.
- Play slow and correct rather than quick with errors. Play right from the very first.
- Record your practise, listen to it and evaluate what you did. This will help you improve.
- Do what your teacher has asked you to do, then put aside your homework book and play what U want to.
What are the strategies that help you practise effectively? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below.