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Piano Lessons: How to Practice: FERN

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FERN is the way you
should practice every time you're learning
a new musical piece for the first week.
FERN stands for F, fingering.
E, expression.
R, rhythm and N, notes.
So you'll play your section of your piece
whatever part you're learning five times
using a different part of FERN each time.
So the first time you play through, you'll
focus on F, fingering.
That means you'll make sure that you're
playing with the correct finger numbers
and that your hand position is correct.
That your fingers are curved.
That your thumbs are on the key or under.
So that your hand position is correct and
you're using the correct finger numbers.
You'll play the piece again, this time
focusing on E, expression.
So any musical details that are in the
section you're learning,
dynamics, wrists, phrasing, this is what
you'll focus on.
You'll make sure that all of these details
are there.
You'll play the piece a third time
focusing on R, rhythm.
This is a great time to actually play with
a video or
with a metronome to make sure no matter
what, even if you hit wrong notes, or
miss details, or play with incorrect
fingering, that your rhythm is correct.
If the piece is too difficult to play the
first day with the correct rhythm,
you should either really slow it down or
just clap the rhythm for
that part of your practice in FERN.
N is for note, so you play the piece a
fourth time focusing on notes.
That means you have to play that entire
passage playing all of the notes
So in this instance, if you have to make a
pause to play the note correctly,
it's okay because you're just focusing on
the notes.
The fifth time, you play through the
section you, you're going to give
yourself an evaluation and determine which
parts of FERN you did really well.
So you'll play through the piece and then
on the last part you'll write in, or,
or X out, depending on what your practice
chart looks like,
the parts of FERN that you did perfectly.
So, say you played it through, and your
hand position was great, you did the right
fingering, you remembered all your wrists,
but you had pauses, or
you did the rhythm incorrectly, and you
made some mistakes on your notes.
So in this case, you did F and E well, so
you'd mark that.
And then you made mistakes on R and N.
So you would leave those out.
By the end of the week,
your goal is to be able to do all steps of
FERN perfectly at the same time.
That's not expected at the beginning of
the week, but as the week goes on, you'll
see your progress, and that you're getting
more parts of FERN perfectly each time.