Practice Tips and Videos

Sitting Properly at the Piano

  • check distance from the keyboard—straight arms thumbs up should touch the back of the black keys

  • check height on the bench—be sure forearms are parallel to the ground

  • sit tall on the front half of the bench with feet flat on the floor

  • use a footstool if feet don't touch the ground

  • consider making an investment in a good adjustable bench

  • young students may do better standing at the piano

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59QAilHTHsc

Hand Position

  • hold a ball, orange, rock to curve fingers into position

  • be sure that all 3 joints in each finger are visible - no "dents"

  • keep fingers relaxed and resting on the keys - if fingers start to stick up, straighten or curl tight when playing, please stop, shake out the hand and arm and reposition

  • make a strong "bridge" on the keys with thumb and pinky finger - don't let thumbs hang off the keyboard

  • practice away from the piano -tap curved fingers on a desk or countertop to build strength and finger independence

  • https://youtu.be/-736MaXh55Y

Practice Boxes

  • use a pencil or colored pencil to "box" a group of notes

  • in early levels this might be just a few notes, a few measures or a complete phrase

  • breaking the music down to bite-size pieces makes learning an entire piece of music less daunting

  • practice boxes set an easily achievable goal for the practice session

  • students can learn, polish or perfect a certain part of music

  • students can identify repeated patterns in the music

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w0YvLmQaCk

Setting the Right Environment

  • make sure the basics are in place: a good bench (an adjustable one is best), a sturdy music stand (if your keyboard didn't come with a stand), and an in-tune piano

  • contact Jeff Stickney for instrument tuning/maintenance/repair: https://www.stickneypiano.com

  • place your piano in an ideal location, not an abandoned corner of the basement, and not right next to the TV

  • keep a consistent practice time each day

  • choose a practice time when your student isn't too tired or too hungry

  • have a practice helper (parent, grandparent, older sibling etc.)  to offer guidance, support and a listening ear

  • contact us with any questions, or if you just need a quick "check in" over zoom/Facetime to be sure your student is on the right track

  • https://youtu.be/QOKXthNbVoc

Setting Practice Goals

  • setting goals for each practice session is more valuable and productive than setting a practice timer

  • create a short "to do" list for each practice session (ex. 1. warm up with Discovery Book Finger Drills, 2. master first line of Happy Birthday, 3. play Rainy Day left hand only 3 times 4. memorize Midnight Mist)

  • use sticky notes to jot down goals for your student for a certain piece (ex. a note on Parallel Motion Duet might say "learn first phrase hands together")

  • make a video to send to us at Play so we can assess your progress between lessons and provide helpful feedback

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr4BRNT61rc

Practicing the Same Thing 5 Different Ways

  • Tap the rhythm using the correct hand, i.e. tap right hand notes with right hand, tap left hand notes with left hand

  • Play while "tah-ing" the rhythm, i.e. tah tah half-note whole-note-hold-it etc.

  • Play while saying the finger numbers

  • Play while saying the letter names

  • Play while singing the words

  • https://youtu.be/I3LOJBLwtic

Using a Metronome

  • this is the most important tool in your practice toolbox to develop good listening skills and a consistent steady beat

  • you can purchase a metronome at Morgenroth Music or online, or download a free app - electric keyboards generally have a built-in metronome

  • in primary levels we generally set a metronome so students play one click per quarter note (tah)

  • set a metronome to a slow speed to work on accuracy then gradually build up speed to the recommended metronome marking

  • https://youtu.be/pQJfxu4784I

Practicing Away From the Piano

  • you can still study music when you’re away from your piano!

  • listen to the pieces you’re playing - students in our 6 primer levels can listen on the piano express app; more advanced students should find a good recording

  • practice naming notes in your music

  • clap/tap/say the rhythm of your pieces

  • invest in a set of flashcards (or make your own) to reinforce key concepts

  • explore some music education apps

  • work on developing finger strength and independence by holding hand in a relaxed, curved position and tapping 1 finger at a time 

  • https://youtu.be/q3fZCoU7_yw

The Importance of Performing

  • preparing for a performance always sets the bar high

  • perform regularly for family, friends, classmates, stuffed animals or pets, and/or make a video to send to family far away, or to your teacher at Play

  • sit correctly with the bench in the right spot, and have your music memorized or open and ready to go

  • mentally prepare before you play - sit still and take a few breaths, hear the music in your head

  • play beautifully!

  • finish by dropping your hands into your lap

  • always bow to your audience to say thanks for listening

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vm4ajXzcec

Stuff to Have Near Your Piano

  • a good bench and light

  • pencil for writing in fingering, the odd note name, dynamics, phrasing, articulation 

  • colored pencils for marking practice boxes and repeated patterns

  • practice counters (little erasers, shopkins, Lego) - practice a passage 3-5 times, each time moving a practice counter from one end of the piano to another

  • flashcards to reinforce concepts and note reading

  • metronome

  • stamps or stickers for rewards

Keeping it Fresh

  • tackle the challenging music at the beginning of your practice session when you are fresh

  • have a parent/sibling/practice partner play along with you

  • work backwards

  • try different sounds on your electric keyboard

  • try playing a piece or passage in a different octave or transpose to a new key

  • finish each practice session with a favorite piece so students leave on a high note

  • https://youtu.be/-Mu3JcVQuAA

Using The Piano Express App

  • visit app.thepianoexpress.com - using Chrome as a browser is your best bet

  • use your student's personal QR code to log in - code is taped to the inside cover of their songbook

  • click on your student's level, select the song title from the list then choose one of the 3 practice speeds

  • please read your music from the songbook as fingering, phrasing and articulation are not included in the app

  • use MIDI cords to connect your laptop or tablet to your electric keyboard to use the app to its fullest extent

  • play along with the app as you would a metronome if you are playing on an acoustic piano or do not have the cables to connect your keyboard to your device

  • check out the video tutorials embedded in the app to assist with learning notes, rhythms and hand position

  • use the app at least 1-2 times a week - students who work with this regularly progress noticeably faster through the level

  • https://youtu.be/4bJe8LnQJW0