When you are learning how to play the piano, it can be difficult to find and manage the time outside of your lessons to practice. Time and time again you may find yourself going to your next lesson without having practiced at all, which doesn’t help you to advance, and you will end up needing to work on the same piece of music over and over.
You should never be going to your lesson and using that as your practice time; it is essential for you to set aside some time to practice prior to your lesson, so you go to it feeling more prepared and ready to tackle the piece of music you have been working on. It can be difficult, but here are some great pieces of advice to help you set the most realistic schedule for practicing piano on your own time.
Start with the Fundamentals
Whether you take lessons online or you go directly to your piano teacher every week in person, the basic fundamentals are still the same for when you are practicing. You need to make sure first and foremost that your fingers are warmed up beforehand so that you are ready to play. According to Vincent Reina, a music school founder in New York who teaches Music to Your Home Piano Lessons, “the best way to do this is through practicing scales or similar fingers exercises you can find in piano books. This should not take you more than five minutes to work on, and the more advanced you are, the less of a warmup you’ll need. However, if you need to work more with your fingers, extend this to about seven minutes.” This is a quick piece of your piano regimen and you should plan to carve out this time in your busy schedule at least a few times a week.
Write It Down!
Neuroscience states that if you write a commitment, goal or a statement down then you are almost 1.4 times more likely to do it. This is so important to help you with setting your schedule. Whether you think you should or not, it is the best idea for you to schedule the time to sit down and practice, even just for fifteen minutes on a really busy day for you by writing it down. In fact, block out some time every day, each week. Take one day a week (usually a weekend) and go through the whole week, finding the time you will dedicate to your craft. Get yourself a simple planner and block out a mere 10 minutes, promising and committing to yourself that you will dedicate all of that time solely to playing. Identify problem areas within your music during your lessons, and focus your practice time on them so that you can get better. Take your time playing through the piece slowly until you can build up your skills to memorize, build upon and play more accurately.
10 Minutes a Day is Easy; Keep It Consistent
Some people think that you have to push yourself to practice for hours at a time. If you actually have hours at a time to practice, then sure, go ahead and practice for hours.
You really don’t have to practice for hours.
If you want to get better, however, you will have to find at least some time to practice every single day. Half an hour is a more realistic timeframe to work with. Be true to yourself and evaluate your day-to-day activities. Determine where you can fit a 10-minute session, but also when you know you will focus the best. Do you work better in the mornings? If so, try to schedule accordingly so that you can fit in practice earlier in the day. Are you more of a night owl? Maybe if you have children you can wait until their bedtime to practice.
However you decide, you should try to make it the same time every day. This makes it easier on you in the long run because it creates a consistent routine for your practicing, and as the days turn into weeks and months, you continue to utilize that same time since you’ve ingrained it in your brain. It also lets other people that are in your life acknowledge this time is for you to practice, so it doesn’t get interfered with.
Minimize Distractions for Better Focus
Along the same lines of waiting until the kids are in bed, you should also be eliminating any or all distractions if you can. This will be the most effective use of your time. It’s not just about blocking off your 10 mins of practice, you have to be sure you will actually sit down and practice the entire time. You need to be honest with yourself: Does having the TV on in the next room keep you from focusing on your arpeggios? If so, just turn it off. If you are practicing with a keyboard, you can simply move the keyboard into a quieter location. It is possible that you may be able to effectively practice with background noise, and that is fine too, but most people probably will want as much silence as possible so that they can focus on their fingers and work on those trouble spots.
To be realistic, we all have busy lives, but if we want something badly enough we will make time for it. If you really want to see an old friend, you will carve the time out to do so, and the same goes for your practicing. Self-discipline is hard, but it shows true dedication, commitment, and loyalty if you can achieve it. Make the time you need for yourself to practice your art. Keep your fingers warmed up, write it down in your planner, keep the same time for your practicing every day and make sure you can focus. Then all you have to do is play until you have mastered your next piano piece. Good luck!