Tips to get the Most Out of Your Time at the Instrument

Most challenges that students face can be traced to their habits when at their instrument. These are just a few  tips I'd like to share that can make each of your  sessions much more productive.

Set Goals.... When you sit down at the piano, have a clear sense of what you'd like to accomplish. Maybe it's a certain scale or maybe a particular passage that has been giving you trouble. Focus on accomplishing a particular task!

Warm Up...I find it amazing how many people just sit at the piano and and just dive in. Think of playing as the equivalent to working out; you need to warm up and stretch the muscles, You fingers will respond much easier with a little bit of warm up. Let's say you're working on a song in Eb. Then run an Eb scale or do a few Hannon exercises, but DO warm up!
 

 Slowly...It is definitely harder to play slowly then it is to play fast. Through a slow and focused approach comes a full understanding of the material you are learning. With understanding, we are able to work through passages or fingerings. Eventually the speed will come and it will be much more precise and expressive!

Scheduling Time with your instrument... This can be one of the most difficult things to accomplish, especially in adult students. We all have lives going on around us and it is not always possible to have a scheduled time to sit at our instrument. However, if it is possible to designate a certain time each day, this will increase your productivity. A certain time daily sends a message to our brain that this is what i do now. You become mentally prepared and actually start looking forward to your play time!

Consistency...Whether you spend 30 min a day or 3 hours or more, consistency is the key. A regular play time coupled with a routine schedule can make a huge difference in your progress. Don't think doubling up on days when you skipped is going to make up for it. It's like trying to make up sleep. It never really happens. Try your best to put in what time you can on a daily basis. I've seen students who seriously dedicate 15 min a day make more progress than someone who does an hour one day, 10 min another and 2 hours another!

Keep A Journal...Keeping a journal or log is a GREAT tool for both student and teacher. It allows a teacher to see what a student has been spending time on and how they are playing through things and what type of time they are spending on materials. It also keep the student accountable for their times at the instrument and allows them a visual record of how much progress they are making!

These are just a few basic tips on how to structure your time at the instrument What have you found that works best for you? Have any of personal experiences you'd like to share? Please do so below. Keep up the great work!!

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