Time and Place

Last Updated on 2022-11-27 | Originally Posted on 2022-03-10

Introduction

Time and place can often greatly influence practice. It depends. For some, they are tightly linked, but for others, they may not be. If you’ve been finding it difficult to get a practice routine established, or your old routine doesn’t work any longer, make this powerful combination your best friend.

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Track Your Practice Time

Last Updated on 2022-11-27 | Originally Posted on 2022-01-05

Introduction

You’ve decided to learn piano, but do you have a practice goal? I talk about how to Set a Practice Goal in a separate blog post. Once you set a practice goal, it can be helpful to see if you’re meeting that goal. I can guarantee that you won’t be able to meet your goal without sufficient practice. I’ll start by showing you how I track my practice time.

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Good Enough

Last Updated on 2022-11-27 | Originally Posted on 2021-11-22

Introduction

“Never good enough” was the original title I proposed for this post. That along with “How to discourage and demoralize a piano student” as the short description. I hope it’s obvious I don’t endorse any of this “never good enough” stuff. However, I experienced it first hand during my first two years of piano study at music school. I noticed a lot of this, across many students and teachers, during the six years I spent earning my BFA and MM degrees.

I realize that I had a lot to learn and that constructive criticism is key to learning how to make a piece better. However, spending an inordinate amount of time on a piece and picking it to death is not the road to success.

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Terrific Technique

Last Updated on 2022-11-30 | Originally Posted on 2021-10-25

Introduction

What is terrific technique? It’s an aspiration for any pianist at any level because it makes playing easier. What’s not easy is talking about it. I realized there must be a reason that I hadn’t covered this topic previously in my Practice Corner articles. Is it because technique is a given, and doesn’t merit discussion? Or is it just a harder topic to flesh out? I think it’s both!

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Going the Second Mile

Last Updated on 2022-11-30 | Originally Posted on 2021-09-19

Introduction

I remember seeing this expression on a motivational poster decades ago, where a runner is shown in full stride with no one else in sight. The others gave up before going the second mile. I’ve known both mid- to long-distance runners, and most of them wouldn’t bother to lace up just to do a mile. But what the expression originally refers to has nothing about recreational runnning.

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Train Your Ears

Last Updated on 2022-11-30 | Originally Posted on 2021-09-18

Introduction

Ear training isn’t something that I do enough with my students. It’s really difficult trying to fit so much into a half-hour lesson, which is the length of time that most of my students choose. I use the phrase train your ears, because I’m going way beyond the discipline of listening for intervals. It also involves listening to styles of music. You need to use different types of articulation. Hearing with precision is an important part of playing with precision. Let’s get the dissonance out of the way first!

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Sharpen Your Pencil

Last Updated on 2022-11-30 | Originally Posted on 2020-07-25

Introduction

One of my memories of public school is whether the teacher required a pen or pencil for class. Once you got past early elementary school, pretty much every class except for math required a pen. So it’s always been a surprise to find that kids don’t bring either to lessons. In case your kids missed the onboarding notice, here’s the announcement once again: Sharpen your pencil!

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Feel That Beat

Last Updated on 2022-11-16 | Originally Posted on 2020-03-01

Introduction

I was tempted to call this post Hear the Beat, not Feel That Beat. See the pullout quote below if you’re unfamiliar with the lyrics of the title song of the musical 42nd Street. However, there’s a big difference between hearing and feeling. When you hear good musicians, you can feel that beat because they do, too.

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Sight Reading Is a Priority

Last Updated on 2022-11-16 | Originally Posted on 2020-02-04

Introduction

When I write my practice corner articles, I typically think about my students’ struggles in their learning. In many cases, I struggled with the same issues when I was a piano student. However, not in this case, since sight reading always came easy to me. Rest assured I struggled in other areas of playing like technique, sound projection, and memorization.

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Law of the Farm

Last Updated on 2022-11-16 | Originally Posted on 2020-01-01

Introduction

Sometimes it pays to relate the complex world that we create for ourselves to simple principles. Stephen Covey did this when he discussed the Law of the Farm in his manual on life, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Learning a piece of music is not much different than planting a tomato. You have to be attentive from the beginning to the end of the process. I’m sure you’ve seen the difference between a tomato that is scrawny and one that is a spectacular celebration.

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