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Popular Piano Lessons: Fundamentals - How to Practice

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Several years ago I was working at
a music camp, and at this particular camp,
they were trying to encourage the students
to practice as much as possible.
So they instituted this competition.
This marathon practice session
to see the student who
would practice the most hours in
this marathon would win some prize.
And for me that was the worst
thing [LAUGH] that you could
apply to these students.
The worst thing you could
do is to spend eight, ten,
12 hours practicing the same
thing over and over again.
Why is that a bad thing?
Isn't it always better to practice more?
In my experiences,
usually better to practice less.
[LAUGH] I bet you'll never come
across a piano teacher like me,
who will ever say to you, practice less.
What do I mean by that?
The problem with overextended practicing
is that more likely you are going to be
ingraining whatever
mistakes you are making.
I can guarantee you we all make mistakes.
I still make mistakes as a professional,
but if you just mindlessly repeat
whatever you are doing, you are going to
be embedding those mistakes in concrete.
And by the time you've kind of extract,
figure it out that you're
still doing something wrong.
Well if you've spent ten hours doing it
exactly that way, you're gonna need to
spend at least twice that time to
relearn not to do it the wrong way.
So my advice is always practice less,
not more.
Practice quality time,
not just in quantity.
I would rather that you practice for ten
minutes, but really accomplish something
in those ten minutes than force
yourself to practice half and hour, or
an hour or so.
It's silly to spend more time,
if you're finding that you're making
the same mistakes over and over again.
The next really important
thing that you want to do
in your practice session is to make
your mistakes your best teacher.
Don't get frustrated, don't just bang
your head against your piano and
say why can't I get through this.
Try to learn from your mistakes and this
is where the video exchange is gonna be so
Of course, we all being human,
we wanna send up and post up
our best performances, and we don't like
airing our mistakes [LAUGH] to the world.
But really this is the best way
that we can learn from each other.
In fact the performances I recorded here
at Artist Works, we didn't edit them.
We kinda went through them and there
are little mistakes here and there, and
that's okay.
And that's intentional cuz I want
you to know that hey, I'm human too.
Yes, we could of gone in and
digitally fixed a few notes here and
there, but we didn't.
We purposely said no, these are gonna
be honest, live performances.
And I purposely said,
there's a couple little dings in there.
That's okay, I'm human, you're human.
So, I want you to feel comfortable
posting your mistakes because that's
the only way that we're gonna be able to
say,ah here's how we're going to fix them.
So, your mistakes are gonna be
your best teacher, I promise,
I will not beat you up,
we're gonna actually learn from them.
I'll be very grateful for
the mistakes that you share and
hopefully we will solve them together,
but only if you can share them with me.
And finally, from those mistakes I'll be
helping you to find strategies to fix them
and you're gonna hear me saying this, say
these a lot during this these lessons, we
wanna make sure we fill in your potholes.
Pothole practicing.
In other words, find the mistakes,
identify them, focus on them.
And then we're gonna come up with very
specific strategies to fix them and
then smooth out the music right before and
right after.
So, a great practice strategy for you as
you're learning to play in instrument is
to really apply the principal
of learning a language.
You're really not gonna learn
a language if you only say a few
words in French once a week.
It's not gonna happen.
You need to say that phrase that
you're memorizing everyday,
even if it's just a few words.
When I was learning Korean,
I couldn't speak any of it.
And the way I learned it was
to memorize five words a day.
I didn't try to memorize
the whole dictionary at once.
I just said, here are five words
that are things that I'm working on.
I'm gonna memorize them each day.
And, by the time, five days the first,
five words the first day,
then it was,
I could grow up to ten the next day.
But having that small, little bit each day
was much more effective in the long run,
and helped you to learn the language a lot
faster than if I had just tried to cram it
all in in a course or something.
So start with small sections
that you can work on.
Practice less, but practice consistently.
I would rather you practice
ten minutes a day everyday,
then two or three hours once a week.
So find that ten or 15 maybe even
30 minutes that you can focus and
the moment your mind starts to wander and
you're not getting anything done or
making progress in your practicing, stop.
Just take a break and
your done for the day.
And you can return to it the next day, and
after a day of kind of being away from it,
you'll find that your brain has already
started to solve those problems.
But again, a little bit every day is far
better than a lot just crammed in once or
twice a week.