Piano Practice

What do you imagine when practicing piano? Is it about losing yourself in the music in a state of perpetual inspiration… or waiting for inspiration to strike? Flashbacks of nasty piano-teaching sadists bringing grown men to tears? Hours of hair-splitting, nail-biting drills? Or worst of all: not knowing what to do? Practicing piano is our single most important activity as pianists, yet the vast majority of piano students have barely the vaguest idea of how to practice. Read more »

Making Mistakes in Practice

Learning a piece of music successfully requires avoiding mistakes in practice. How we practice is how we learn, and how we learn is how we perform. If we make mistakes in practice, we teach ourselves to make mistakes in performance. It’s a simple equation. What exactly is a mistake? Mistakes are more than just wrong notes. We may be dealing with mere semantics here, but it would be possible to call anything that is not exactly what you want a mistake. Read more »

My Practice Routine

Question: Hello Albert, I often read about practicing on your website, and you write a lot about how to practice efficiently, and how you get the best results. But if someone (like me) tries to focus on all the things you tell us on your website, it can be kind of hard to keep everything in mind. And another thing is, that your website isn’t the only one with tips and so on. Read more »

How to Practice Polyrhythms

Question: What is your advice for playing polyrhythms? For example, simple polyrhythms like triplets against duplets or quadruplets and odd ones (Chopin’s favorite) like 4 notes against 35 or 13 notes. My approach is lots of practice hands separately with the metronome but the odd ones seem impossible to be subdivided. Thank you for the wonderful insights on this website! Christopher Cheng (Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia) Albert’s reply: First it’s important to master the most basic of polyrhythms, 2 against 3. Read more »

Are Editorial Fingerings Compulsory?

Question: Is it essential to play or to require my students to play all indicated fingerings in early advanced pieces, i.e., Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu Op. 66, or Mozart’s Fantasia in D Minor? Although I can play and also teach pupils all of the indicated fingerings, I don’t understand why they are needed in some of the simplest of places, as in the latter example’s measures 20 and 35, especially while using the pedal, and in some of the more challenging places, like in the left hand of the second ending in the allegretto section. Read more »

Counting Rhythm

Question: Just a quick question re: counting notes… timing. I’m immediately interested in finding help in proper counting of various notes. I struggle with this more than anything. Reading notes is not an issue… playing correct timing of notes is. Can I expect to find this sort of help in your lessons? Just a quick paragraph on me & my background… As a child I had approximately 4-5 years of piano training from a very excellent teacher, much of this based in classical music. Read more »

Different Rhythms in Different Hands

Question: Okay, so I haven’t taken piano lessons for 5 years and I stopped as a beginner so I’m not very good and I don’t know all that much. But for whatever reason I have been playing random songs lately and I’ve been trying to play music where my right hand and left hand are playing two different beats and my left hand always refuses to do so…. Is there some trick to doing this or do it just take practice? Read more »

Effects of Age on Piano Practice

Question: I used to play when I was younger. I am 52 now but still love to play (it’s innate). Unsupportive family members restricted me from practicing as much as I wanted. So I stopped for a few years but can’t get rid of it. Can I catch up to a speed of just an average piano player? I have a regular non-musical job, but just love to play the piano. Read more »

Efficient Piano Practice: 10 Expert Tips

10 Expert Tips Everybody is under intense time pressure these days, and musicians are no exception. In reply to the many requests about efficient piano practice, here are some expert tips that can help you make the most of your practice time. Get organized. Practicing the piano efficiently is really about how to organize oneself to get the best results from the effort expended. It’s essential to be very clear about our daily practice objectives. Read more »

Emotions in Practice and Performance

Question: Hello Albert. A performer’s emotion(s) play an essential part at every performance. What can you say about managing moods (good or bad) during practice and performance? Leo (California, USA) Albert’s reply: First and foremost, emotions must be cultivated during practice. I’ve encountered many amateur musicians who have espoused the practice philosophy, “First the notes, then the music.” I cannot stress enough how self-destructive is this attitude towards learning music. Read more »