Developing a great system for practice is really important not only for learning now, but sticking with your piano learning journey. Developing a great piano practice routine for beginners or intermediate players isn't one size fits all, but there are some important components that you'll want to include.
Before we start though, it's important to note that practicing the piano is not just about mindlessly playing through pieces or exercises. I'm sure that's not why you're learning anyway.
But practicing does require focused work and dedication. Let's get into what to include in your piano practice routine.
Every good piano practice session starts with a warm-up. To begin your practice session, warm up your hands with technique. The technique you choose depends on your level and learning goals. You may want to include:
All of these will help you loosen up and prepare your fingers for playing. But let's get a little more specific as to what to practice.
For beginners, you only need to do one basic scale and that could be the C major scale.
Start with going up only and if that is comfortable and easy enough, go back down again.
Then move onto a variety of major and minor scales. I'd suggest starting with scales that use basic scale fingering for beginners or major scales and minor scales that you don't know yet to extend your knowledge.
Use a metronome to track your speed so you can steadily improve.
Intermediates can play 2 octave scales - major scales and natural minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor scales.
Then play that chord in its inversions going up and back down again. Here is more on how to practice inversions.
This is the order of difficulty you can use:
Arpeggios are more intermediate to advanced and can be frustrating for beginners. I'd recommend focusing on scales and chords for beginners and leaving this section for further down the line.
Play arpeggios in simpler keys first (C, G, D, etc) and then move onto more difficult key signatures. You can learn more about arpeggios here.
Do this for both major and minor keys.
Remember for all technique that speed is not the goal here. Instead, concentrate on precision, even tempo, and clean sound.
Now, it's time to focus on the pieces or songs you're learning.
Break your pieces into sections and focus on one section at a time if needed. Use slow practice, hands separately then together, to tackle challenging sections. Don't forget to spend time on interpretation, dynamics, and expression.
For beginners, your repertoire may be simple tunes or exercises from a method book.
Intermediates may have several pieces of varying difficulties in progress. Regardless, the key is to stay patient and to not rush through your pieces.
If you are taking piano lessons, there's a good chance you're getting theory homework. So spend some time doing that.
If you are focused more on learning on your own, taking some time to practice naming notes and remembering what things are called is a great idea.
This isn't something you need to do every practice session. Once or twice a week would be a great amount.
Depending on what your piano goals are, there are a few things you could also include as part of a great piano practice routine. This all depends on if you want to be great at reading music, playing be ear, or improv.
One of the keys to becoming a proficient pianist is to become comfortable with sight-reading. To help with this, one optional part of your practice routine could be practicing sight-reading new material.
Beginners should start with simple pieces that stay within a five-finger position, while intermediates can challenge themselves with more complex pieces.
Try to play through the piece without stopping, even if you make mistakes. This builds the crucial skill of maintaining rhythm and tempo, even when the going gets tough.
You can get sight reading books or sight reading exercises to help you practice this. Or you can just try playing music you have around.
Playing piano by ear is a skill the same as learning to read music. So if this is something you'd like to develop, take time to practice.
Pick a song, and try to play it. Either work on melody or trying to figure out a bass line or the chords.
If playing by chords or learning jazz piano or blues is high on your priority list, give yourself some to just play around and make stuff up. It's the only way you'll get better at it and all you need to do is do it.
So give yourself some improv or musical exploration time.
Remember, while this piano practice routine for beginners is a great start, you don't need your practice to be perfect or exactly the same every time.
Maybe one day you'll want to play by ear and another do some theory work. Starting with a warm up - at least a small one, and then practicing a few songs or pieces are the foundational elements.
The most important thing to do is actually practice. If you can be consistent and keep going that is most important.
If you haven't done the scales challenge yet, that would be a great place to begin working on your technique.
Sign up for the scales challenge here. (It's free.)
Subscribe below and get free access to the (printable) Ultimate Chord Cheat Sheet.
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