Helping Piano Students Towards Successful Practice


Competitions, festivals, and music college entrance casting calls are just around the corner. This is a moment when dedicated students usually spend more hours on training in preparation for these significant events. When I was a pupil, I seldom practiced more significantly than 5 hours a day regardless of eminent deadlines, though lots of my classmates said that they practiced more than the main hours a day.

It has been revealed in educational and mental health research, as in Sloboda perfect al’s (1998) study of musical giftedness, that there is a constructive correlation between hours invested in practice and overall fulfillment. For instance, attaining internationally improved performance requires approximately an amount of00 about 10000 hours connected with the practice.

My question remains to be – Is it accurate that the more hours, the better? If one reaches the diminishing return instructions where more practice for a long time does not equal better results. Over-practice may lead to weakness, loss of perspective toward the new music, or even injury.

Practice is undoubtedly an essential part of musical progress, and it is vital that wholesome and efficient practice behaviors are cultivated from the oncoming. In my teaching, I guide my students to develop a confident sense of awareness in the direction of practice from a very early age. I believe that it is essential to use a clear understanding of what is involved in meaningful practice from the very beginning. In practice, efficiency is significant as time is a thing for most students. Skills to get practice need to be developed; hence the most can be achieved within a confined time frame.

I often strain the difference between “Quality vs . Quantity” in practice. By this, I am referring to two ways of working – spending so much time and working smart. Spending so much time is a given, but this does not guarantee good results. On the contrary, working smart will assure that one paves the way to get optimal results. Coupled with perseverance, and clarity of mind, in addition to self-control, students probably achieve their goals a great deal more effectively without having to suffer splits of inefficient practice. You will need much more time and effort in rear tracking and rectifying flaws incorporated into the train. Time misspent is, in substance, time wasted.

I offer my students apparent targets for their practice, and I define to young students the particular goals they need to achieve from one lesson to the next. Ultimately, it’s the results that count.

Audio practice is both any cognitive and physical method. It involves troubleshooting and problem solver. Once a problem has been determined, one needs to strategize to get a course of action to rectify the situation. This is a reflective and introspective process that requires active attention, sensitivity, and awareness of the particular physical body. Repetition will only be fruitful when an option has been found for a particular technical or musical trouble. The danger in many instances is that pupils repeat passages before they may have found any solutions to their particular problems. In this case, repetition is performed haphazardly and, consequently, will become counterproductive.

I have identified about three stages of practice regarding my students:

(1) Trouble identification – This is a period where problems and problems are identified. It is only following isolating the specific problems and also difficulties can one effectively think of a solution – whether it be technical or musical.

(2) Problem-solving – This involves an amount of experimentation, common cognitive sense, active listening, and adaptive physical adjustments. In this process, one has to be informed, as one needs to continuously produce dynamic auditory, visual, natural, and aesthetic judgments of whether confident choices or treatments are appropriate and effective.

(3) Reinforcement- The actual process of natural reinforcement of motor coordination through repetition to arrive at a level of physical automatization. This will only be useful if a proper solution has been known to be.

Musical practice is a re-iterative process. Once a level of automatization has been achieved, the student might want to re-evaluate their performance desired goals for the next level. So, ways 1 to 3 will be re-iterated multiple times for further refinement.

Nurturing healthy and valuable habits needs to start from an exceptionally young age. Many teachers still find it practical to write down practice desired goals for elementary students, to make sure they will be reminded of the information covered in the lesson. To invest provides a pre-defined design for students to adhere to during their training. While this prescriptive approach could be effective in the short term, it does not explicitly cultivate introspection, and none help students make vibrant judgments during practice. The moment students have developed a certain higher level of musical awareness, it is important to coach them to learn on their own. They have to develop the ability to critique their performances, seek their play voice, and find treatments for achieving their desired goals.

During lessons, I consult my students on many issues about their playing. The point is to encourage them to evaluate their performances, identify problematic parts and propose suggestions for artistic refinement. This schooling also sensitizes students to become objective and vital listeners so that they become better suited to evaluate weaknesses in their performance. In this process, they also can become more resourceful in creating solutions to rectify problems. That engages students fully in an active and self-motivated finding-out process. They also become significantly less reliant upon external responses. Instead, they develop a higher level of astute musical awareness from the inside, which accelerates the learning practice.

I like to use this analogy having my students. The electrician uses paint as his / her medium, and artistic reflection is recorded on canvas. With photography, light is medium-sized and the film is paper. For musicians, sound is our medium, and the moment is our canvas. Artists are sculptors of noise in time – creating the intangible while shaping the hidden. As Michelangelo said, his or her artistic process involves chiseling away the excess to expose the statue hidden in the marble block. In the process regarding musical practice, likewise, we could continuously craft out the excessive to unleash the actual sound graphic from within themselves. The course remains a life-long process of discovery…


Howe, M. J. A., Davidson, J. W., and Sloboda, J. A. “Innate abilities: Reality or myth? Inches Behavioral and Brain Savoir, 21, 399-442 (1998).

Simply by Angela Po Yiu Chan

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Email to contact creator: angelachan@LambdaArts. ca

Author: Angela Po Yiu Chan

Biographical Information:

Dr . Chan provides given solo and duet piano performances in Canada, European countries, the USA, and Asia, and possesses been featured on the Finding Channel (Canada), Global TV SET, PBS, CJNT, Australian Tv set Network, Maclean’s magazine, the particular Gazette as well as various r / c.

She has adjudicated in several tournaments, including the Concours de Jeunesses Quebec- Ontario, the Youthful Music Explorers Videotape Violin Competition and the Young Audio Explorers Piano Scholarship Levels competition. Dr . Chan has led many workshops and masterclasses inside Quebec and Ontario and also hosts a column in piano pedagogy in Musifax, a publication of the Quebec, Canada, Registered Music Teachers’ Relationship.

Dr . Chan is the originator and director of the Commun School of Music and Fine Arts in Montreal, where she also minds the Lambda Piano Educator Accreditation Program. Since 08, Chan has formed a joint piano studio having renowned Montreal-Korean concert pianist Wonny Song with whom she is also co-authoring a whole new piano method book set. Dr . Chan also more than likely is many music associations such as Quebec Registered Music Teachers’ Association, the National New music Teachers’ Association, and the North American Liszt Society.

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