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TIPS FOR ADULT PIANISTS

Most piano teaching practices are based largely on children, but many of the most interesting students are adults who are very committed to learning the piano as best they can. 

Here are some basic tips on how to practice, regardless of what you are playing. 

Remember that practicing the piano is in reality simply repeating the hard parts until you know them. The trick lies in how to repeat them. Here's what to do: 

  1. Don't repeat and practice the parts you know, play the parts you don't know, the hard parts you avoid.

  2. Break each part down into little bite size sections, perhaps 1-4 bars. Nothing longer than 4 bars is a good rule, and repeat that section until you are tired of it, and then do something else.

  3. Play each section hands separately. It's a good rule that if you can't play the part with one hand, you won't be able to play it with two. Break down the physical motion into what each hand does separately.

  4. Look at your hands when you practice. Memorize the music and then look at your hands. Think of any famous pianist: do you see them looking anywhere else but the maze of piano keys?

  5. Play each section slowly, far slower than the song goes, far slower than you can stand. Play it so slowly that it becomes impossible to make mistakes. Slow practice reveals things to the eye and ear that are invisible at the proper, standard tempo.

  6. When you have finished the above five steps for each section, try the section with two hands, very, very slowly. You will see some improvement. Repeat these steps until the section is comfortable.

This describes the steps for working on a difficult section you don't know. After that, go back and play all the sections, the easy and the difficult, and see what needs work. 

Distinguish between playing a major section all the way through, and working on a small section intensively. 

After you work hard for a little while, walk away, do something else, and come back later. 

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2008 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved

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