Playing yourself out

Pianists and other musicians understand that it can be very easy for your playing to plateau. Often it is more of an emotional plateau than an actual physical halt in progress but everybody who plays experiences this sooner or later.

For beginners it usually occurs shortly after they have managed to put their initial chords together and established their first rhythm patterns. The strange thing is many people become discouraged during this period because it feels like they are just playing the same thing over and over and not getting any better, when in actual fact it is in those moments that the real progress takes place.

Here is the crucial point where you have to keep practicing and playing the same chords or patterns over and over again without getting frustrated, or worse, bored of playing the piano.

But how can you do it? How can you keep going?

Keep these three things in mind:

1. Remember. Always remember why you started to learn to play the piano.

2. Inspiration. Search for your best source of inspiration; keeping track of your favorite pianists and composers and always listening to all kinds of music to get inspired.

3. Routine. Build your own practice routine, a routine that best suits your needs and what you are wanting to achieve.
Good luck with this!

Posted by Ben Edwards

Using a metronome for practicing

Boys and Girls let me introduce you to your best practice mate, a Metronome!

That’s right Rocket Piano fans, friends and followers, a metronome is an essential tool to have, it doesn’t matter what color is it, what shape it has, if it’s your Grandma’s old school metronome or the most modern digital metronome ever created… You have to have a metronome!

Improving your timing also means improving your playing!

A band won’t hire you if your timing sucks; you could play the most difficult jazz chords or patterns if you want to, but if you don’t play them in time, you’re out, it’s as simple as that. Time in music is everything!

If you own a keyboard, it’s a sure bet there’ll be a built in metronome, so start using it! For those of you who don’t have a metronome yet, let me introduce you to it.

A metronome is a device that makes a sound to indicate beats so you can keep in time when you are playing the piano or any other instrument. A metronome keeps perfect time so that you can learn the songs you love properly. Metronomes are also adjustable, meaning you can make them beat faster or slower depending what tempo your song or exercise is at. It also lets you learn a song at a slower pace before building it up to full speed.

Older metronomes were like wind up clocks that had a swinging pendulum and were generally powered by a spring. On the end of the pendulum was a weight that could be moved to change the tempo (tempo is a musical term that basically means speed). Modern metronomes are electronic and generally battery powered. They are operated by pressing buttons or turning a dial. Older metronomes make a clicking sound like a clock whereas more modern metronomes generally make a pinging sound to denote each beat.

Metronomes are very important for all musicians because they will keep a steady beat while you play helping you to play in time. Nearly all modern recordings are made with a metronome (or click track) and most dedicated professionals practice with one. The reason for this is that without a constant beat it is easy for a musician to go out of time. By that I mean, play too fast or fall behind the beat. This also applies to practice as you should be trying to play in time as much as possible.

Newer metronomes can do some pretty amazing things like playing different time signatures like 3/4, 6/8, and 7/8 for example. They can also be set to make different sounds depending on the beat. For example you can set most newer metronomes to have a different sound at the start of a bar so you always know where beat one is. They also have more complex things like the Latin claves so you can practice more Latin Jazz and Salsa oriented patterns.

When using a metronome you should always be aiming to push yourself. Work within your speed range and build on your speed range gradually. This will make you a better player — though you may find it difficult at first it is something that will pay dividends in the future.

Using a metronome is very important when you are practicing but there are times when you should play without it. When you are trying to be creative or if you are experimenting with different things there is no real need to use a metronome.

If you would like to have one, you can go to your local music store, they will have tons of them. But you can always use online resources too, so here are a couple of options:

Metronome online
Web Metronome

So, No excuses to start using one!