What to practice?

Getting into a practice routine is not an easy thing, especially if you are a beginner when most of the time you do not know where to go or what to practice among all the available and existing content in books, on CDs, DVDs and the Internet.

Have you ever felt that you have been stuck in the same place for a long time? Like when you feel that your playing sucks, no creativity is flowing, you play the same piano licks all the time and sometimes you don’t even feel like playing the piano anymore? I have, and it sucks badly; however I discovered myself that getting into a new practice routine can be all it takes to get out of that “black hole”. Getting into a routine will kill all those concerns and bad feelings about your playing and it will make you improve a lot, you will be hippier, sorry, Happier!

I am not gonna talk about how to get a routine, if you need some help with that, you should check out this Rocket Piano Blog post.

What I’m wanting to talk to you about is what to practice. In other words, asking yourself where your playing is at? What does your playing need? What do you want to learn? Do you think you need to focus on your playing technique, speed, or maybe introduce a new groove.

There is no one better than yourself to know where your playing is at and then find out what you need to work on.

Finding out what your playing and soul needs.
Play your piano for a while, as you normally would or listen to some music you are currently into, get a feel for it and see if there is something you would like to learn from it, something new that you want to be able to play, something that inspires you or something that gives you shivers.

Something that I found really good to include in your “what to practice” is basically one or two warm up exercises. I have found this to be an important part of any practice session. Scales and arpeggios are good for building speed, but remember to start at a slow tempo and gradually increase the speed… this of course involves the use of a metronome.

And of course, there is one last resource on what to practice which is probably the most common – learning to play songs. Songs that you like, songs that everytime you listen to you say, Man, I wish I could play that! Those types of songs are what you need to get into.

I would love to hear what your practice routine looks like, what you start with, how long you spend warming up and how often you practice. Share your training regime with us and with other Rocket Piano users who might need some extra help getting started.

14 thoughts on “What to practice?

  1. I normally practice at least an hour a day, but when I’m learning a new song it could be 3 – 4 hours a day. If I don’t feel like practicing at all I’ll still try to play something even if it’s for only ten minutes.

    I’ve been playing for about 3 1/2 years, and taught myself how to play by watching piano tutorials. Unfortunately, I’ll never be any good no matter how much I practice because I have a degenerative neurological
    condition called Cerebellum Ataxia which affects my balance and coordination.

    It took me almost three years just to decide if it would it be worthwhile to buy a keyboard because I had no idea if my fingers would even stay on the keys. I finally bought an inexpensive Casio for around $150, and 3 1/2 years later I have 11 songs in my Repertoire which I play from memory.

    My girlfriend, who plays piano and organ for her church, thought I’m playing well enough to upgrade, so two weeks ago I bought a Kawii EP3 digital piano.
    I’m starting to get frustrated all over again because the EP3 has a different feel and sound. It just seems too bright compared to some of the mellow sounds I hear from other digital pianos, and now it feels like I’m playing a real piano which has a differnt key compression. Because I can’t play smoothly I need to add the strings to compensate for my jerky fingering.

    I absolutly love playing the piano, I started because I thought it would be good eye/hand coordination. I just wish I could play better, but that’s my world.

    Dennis
    Sheboygan, WI

    • Hi Dennis,

      Great to hear from you, your experience and life in general!
      I do the same thing as you do, when I don´t feel like practicing hard, I play for 10 or 20 minutes and simply play anything, whatever comes to my mind first. It is always good to keep in touch with your instrument, no matter what.

      RE: from Casio to Kawai. Big difference between those two keyboards. The EP-3 is great, I think you will get used to it pretty quick. Key feel and brighter sound can be a big shock at first, but after a few weeks of using it you will be fine.

      Good luck and keep up the great playing!

  2. Hi Luis,

    Thanks for the reply, and your encouragiung words.

    I think your right, that after a couple of weeks I’ll start getting use to the EP-3.
    After almost two weeks since I first got it, It’s already feeling more comfortable to play, but I still need to get use to the bright sound it makes.

    Also, because it’s new, the keys seem more slippery which is more difficult to play because of my coordination problem, but I think that will improve too.

    Dennis

  3. I have a light-touch synth keyboard and once a week I have a lesson on an acoustic upright. The more I use the acoustic, the more I know I want the heavier hammer-touch, rather than the light-touch. My new keyboard is on its way to me as I write.
    I too think you’ll get to prefer the Kawai after a while.

    If you don’t get to like a sound from the EP-3, it has MIDI and USB connections, so you could connect the keyboard to a PC and use a software piano on the PC and the EP-3 as a controller. That’s a much clumsier solution than an all-in-one piano, though. FWIW, I have Pianoteq.STAGE. There are many others.

  4. I practice at least 3hrs on average per day four times per week.
    I begin with the most difficult pieces then followed by easy stuff.
    I have about 15 to 20 pieces being practised simultaneously (95% classical and 5% hymns & jazz) . I do finger & piano techniques always when practing.
    I have been studying piano since November 2010 (one and half years ).

    • Awesome job Isaac! It sounds that you are on top of things.
      Your practice routine only reminds me that everything is achievable only if we really make a good effort and practice everyday – In other words, constancy and hard work.
      Keep it up!

      Luis

  5. Thank you for the artical on positive practice habits – I have printed a copy and have it in my music folder along with my “goals” and reminders on anything on which regular attention.
    I read through these on a regular basis, and find it helps keeps me focused.

  6. I practice my every day. I started with just internet videos and moved to Rocket Piano after some frustration and I was looking for a guide. I have been playing for about 4 months and I am halfway thru the first book! That might not seem too far along BUT I read up on chunking and mastering before moving on. I have the gold edition and love it but I’m not sure when to move on to some jazz or Gospel as again I’m down to master what I currently practice. I love the warm up lesssons. Also, the greatest thing that I have gotten from piano practice is a belief in myself that I’m not sure if I have ever really had. I can hear myself getting better each and every day!

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