Ten Tips for Piano Practising

So many big articles on piano practising. I don’t have time to write those! A few tips I actually use:

  1. Count how many pages in the piece, know the average number of pages you can learn in a session, and book off enough slots in your agenda to ensure learning them. if people ask you for this time, say “I’m not available”.
  2. Compare tempi of each section. Identify all similar phrases/ sections and learn them back to back memorizing and starring each slight difference.
  3. Don’t write in most finger numbers, just make shapes around groups.
  4. Learn the harmony, rhythm, and left hand. Right hand last.
  5. Star top corner of the most difficult pages. Don’t have a technique warmup, but instead, learn those pages in creative ways that mine them for musical meaning.
  6. Do not bring screens to practise room. Set a time when you’re allowed to check them.
  7. Know what you’ll wear to perform, and try practising while wearing it.
  8. Take out a book about the life and times of the work – especially if you’re not the soloist and the soloist isn’t inspiring you. Know for your own sake what this is about.
  9. Compare editions using IMSLP.
  10. Take a day off at least once a week.

To say, don’t indulge in unnecessary playthroughs and repetitions while angsting about your playing, is not on my list because it is not a tip but a preliminary axiom, like remembering to breathe.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Heather,

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful insights! I am/was Fran Gray’s student, and I know your sister Maggie because I used to play violin in the symphony. Both of them suggested to me to take lessons from you, oh, and even Simon your nephew said that. I knew about your concert in Belle River last summer, it was the day before my birthday, also just 2 days before I left for the music festival that’s held at Wildred Laurier. (What a coincidence.) I should have gone to the concert, but I am sorry that I didn’t go because it’s quite a long drive out there.

    I LOVE all the tips that you’ve given here, they’re so concise and and clear. And I think it’s so incredibly generous for you to share them. I was already doing some of them, but some are new to me. After many errors and trials, I finally seem to know how to practice more efficiently, but I have already wasted so much time indulging on the so unnecessary playthroughs! Teachers had never really taught me how to practice, I think that’s quite a problem. I bet you’re a great teacher!

    Again, thank you for sharing! Btw, I also LOVE your improvisations! They’re totally amazing and inspiring…!!

    Best wishes,