Rob Healey Keyboard Tuition Specialist

Practice Tips

Persistence 

"NOTHING IN THE WORLD CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF PERSISTENCE.
TALENT WILL NOT; NOTHING IS MORE COMMON THAN UNSUCCESSFUL MEN WITH TALENT.
GENIUS WILL NOT; UNREWARDED GENIUS IS ALMOST A PROVERB.
EDUCATION WILL NOT; THE WORLD IS FULL OF EDUCATED DERELICTS.
PERSISTENCE AND DETERMINATION ALONE ARE OMNIPOTENT."

THOMAS WATSON (FOUNDER OF IBM)

In other words, If you do something a lot, you get good at it.
This applies to almost everything in life; Golf, Swimming, Sailing, Reading, Singing, Video Games and of course, playing the Keyboard !

Daily practice is far more effective than one or two big practices during the week.
Songs being learnt should be played through at least six times a day

 

The Basics . . .

1. Set a time each day for practice.

2. Switch on and warm up with scales and exercises, 2-3 Minutes

3. Play a favourite song, 3-5 Minutes

4. Work on new pieces, 10-20 Minutes

5. Play some finished pieces to keep them fresh 5-10 Minutes

6. Songs being learnt should be played through at least six times a day

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE !!

 

Keyboard Position . . .

Set your keyboard at the correct height, where there is good light, and no interruptions.

The correct height is when the underneath of your elbow is level with the top of the keys. This is VERY IMPORTANT - failure to do this results in poor hand position and reduces the speed you can play notes.

I can usually tell when a student is sitting too low at home, just by their poor hand position.

Don't use cushions to adjust the players height - it's not comfortable to sit on 2 or 3 cushions and is impractical long-term.

Good light, shining directly on the music and not into the students eyes, is also very important. Poor light affects our reaction time and slows the learning process.

 

Your Music Bank . . .

Put a sticky label beside the pieces you are working on and place a tick for every time you play the song.

By the end of the week there should be many ticks in your music bank.

YOUR 'BANK OF LEARNING'

Post-It Labels are good for this

Headphones let you practice a piece over and over without disturbing others

 
 

Some Useful Practice Tips

 

Play Every Day !

When you don't play, everything you have worked hard to learn will slowly disappear, just like water in a leaky bucket !

Avoid Mistakes !

Every time you repeat a mistake, you learn how to go wrong a little better. Go slow and stay in control. Practice difficult parts over and over slowly. Teach your fingers the right way to go, before going faster. Only
' Perfect practice makes perfect'.

Always read the music

When you stop looking at the music you stop learning. Playing a song by memory is a sign of musical talent, but at an early stage it stops your progress.

Always play the song with chords.

Playing a single melody line uses a different part of the brain that's not used when we play with both hands and is a waste of time. It's very frustrating to add the chords and then make mistakes, so combine the hands as soon as possible.

Counting is essential for every song

Many players ignore timing and think they 'know how the song goes'. Long notes get cut short and hard parts are extended - the player might not notice but the listener always will. Learn the note values and play in time.

Work extra hard on a new song the first few days.

If something is really difficult at first, a few days extra effort will always make a difference. As you begin to master the new song, start to play your other songs to keep them fresh. It's easy to lose songs that aren't played.

Never go to sleep without playing.

If you haven't time for a practice, at least play your favourite song for a few minutes. Doing this helps to maintain your skills.

 

Don't look at your hand when playing

It's Ok to look at your hand sometimes but if your fingers are in the correct position, there's usually no need (or time) to look at your hand. Practice playing with a towel over your hand - see how much of the song can you play without mistakes.

Learn to read music

If you can read music, you can play any song ! Don't try to learn the song by memory or work it out 'by ear' which will take a lot of time and not help you with the next song. It's much faster to read the music. Once you have learnt the song, go ahead and memorise it for a great performance.

Record yourself playing.

When we play we don't always hear what others hear, so recording is a valuable self-teaching aid.

Stay synchronised with the rhythm

You and the Auto Accompaniment are a team. Listen carefully and check that you are always on the same beat as the keyboard.

The best way to master timing is counting aloud

Counting aloud is a skill that is best developed on easy pieces so that when you have a difficult part you can use your counting aloud skill to discover the timing. Counting aloud develops our brains in a way that counting silently does not. There is NO SUBSTITUTE for counting ALOUD.

Start slowly

Study a new song carefully, check the Time Signature (beats per bar), check the Key Signature (look for sharps and flats). Practice the chords in order. When you can play the piece easily, add the Rhythm and when you can stay in time, gradually increase the Tempo.

It's fun when it's easy

Learn the basics - note reading, counting and fingering. If you can play the correct note at the right time and have a finger ready for the next note, then you'll find playing the Keyboard is easy - AND FUN.

 

The best shortcut is to do it properly the first time

The start is so important - lifetime habits are begun - for good or bad.
Each song is an important lesson. Accomplish one thing at a time and enjoy your music.

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2006 by Rob Healey, ABN 59 588 931 915