By: Mandi Weems
Learning to play the piano can be trying at times. It doesn't matter if you are just starting out, or if you have played for years, sometimes it feels like you just aren't getting anywhere at all. And, no matter how long you sit and study and play the piano, you are bombarded with the old adage "Practice makes perfect". But, how can you study the piano if you aren't really sure what you're supposed to be doing? Well, every good piano player should know that studying the piano is more than just practicing. Studying the piano involves playing all different works to help your fingers continually train and stretch, reading through music and understanding every work before you master it, how long you can practice, and how well you can use your study time.
Every piano player needs to find the study technique(s) that will help them to learn better and faster, and usually it's trial and error that will point this out to you. Some piano instructors will help you find the right study technique by giving you several tips and ideas that helped them, while others will simply tell you to "go home and practice". But, if you are not playing correctly while you are practicing, you are simply defeating the whole purpose of practice. So, how do you know what to do when studying the piano?
Study Techniques To Help You Improve
While there are millions of ways to study the piano, there are some techniques that will always provide help to any player, new or old:
Make sure that your practice area is free of all distractions, such as the television, phone, loud music, and even other people if needed. Having a quiet place to read, study, and practice can help you more than anything while you are learning.
Read through your music or assignment. Every piano instructor will either assign you or show you some great practice suggestions for your study at home. There is a reason for these, and you should always do any practice pieces at home when you can.
Study and practice the piano every day. No matter if you can only set aside thirty minutes per day to study, you need to be sure that you are practicing each day. Once you have your study time down, you should continue to study at that same time, every day.
When you sit down to practice, make sure that the sheet music is easy for you to read and that you have enough light to see it. There is no need to strain your eyes or try to play something that you can't read.
When you are working on learning a long piece, don't try to cram it all in at one study session. You should break it up into smaller pieces and learn each of them in order so you will be prepared and ready to play the whole thing through.
As you break down each section in the piece, you should play through them slowly at first, making sure that each note, pitch, melody, tune, and rhythm is right and in the right spot. There is no need to study that piece if you play the same mistakes over and over. By practicing each work correctly, and slowly, for a few times, you're fingers will know where to go and what to do when they get there.
When you have a good study session, you should reward yourself by playing something that you already know and love after something new and hard. By playing something that you are already good at, you will bolster your self esteem and let you know that you are a good piano player, and practice will have you playing this new, hard piece in no time too.
You should take your teacher's suggestions and tips home with you. By using their advice, you will find all sorts of new avenues of study and play that you didn't know before. After all, it took them years of practice and study to get where they are, so they have done something right!
Find a musical dictionary. This will help you study your pieces the right way by telling you what each Italian term on your music means, such as Allegro vivace, so you don't get confused while practicing or playing. Knowing what the original composer meant and wanted that particular line to sound like will help you become a better player.
Experiment. Use different study techniques until you find some that work for you. Everyone has different ways of learning, whether it's by reading all about the piano and the work that you are trying to learn, or whether it's sitting down and playing it over and over until you get it right and can play it in your sleep, each different piano player will have to experiment to find that perfect study technique for them.
Listen, Learn, and Play
While you are in class, you should always listen to your piano instructor. This means that you should soak in everything you possibly can, from new techniques that you need to master to where the next good piano concert will be and when. By knowing new techniques that you can use, you will find that you'll be able to get these new techniques into your routine and help you on the road to becoming a better piano player. By attending some of the better piano concerts around your area, you will have time to study each different piano player and see how they play, read, study, and much more. When you are able to watch the better piano players, you will become better as well, as you should learn something from each different performance.
Once you have found a few new techniques for studying the piano, you can take them all home and try them out on your instrument. Make sure that you either memorize the techniques or that you write them down before you stop your practice for the day. By memorizing or writing down the new technique that you have learned that day, you are less likely to forget it the next morning.