Making the Habit: Piano Practice

Whether you are the parent of a 1st grader or are an adult who wants to learn piano, the biggest hurdle will always be practice.

Or more specifically, making practice time a priority.

Taking the time to practice is vital for any piano learner, regardless of age or skill set. Even professionals spend hours a day practicing to make sure they are constantly improving their skills.

But practice is just as important for beginners.

Where can you find the time, though? Life is busy, schedules are hectic, and finding time to sit down at the keys for a half hour of piano practice time can be challenging. But without practice, you will never get any better at the piano (or any other skill, for that matter).

Building a habit takes time and perseverance. It’s no easy feat, especially as you get older. That’s no reason to give up, though.

Instead, focus on this five tips to help you build that piano practice time.

Build The Habit Gradually

You’ve finally decided to get started on piano lessons, and you’re excited. You’ve got all your books, a fresh eagerness, and you are ready to go. So you practice for as long as your fingers can hold out.

The next day, your practice time is a little shorter, because of the long practice the day before. By the fourth day, you’re pretty much done for the week.

What happened here?

It can be tempting to jump right into 45-minute practices from the beginning. For one thing, not even professionals usually practice for that long in one sitting.  If you do this, you’ll burn out too quickly.

Practice should be finished when you start to feel mentally tired. For most piano students, 20-30 minutes of daily practice is more than enough. Even with that time frame, though, avoid jumping all in too quickly.

Instead, start small. If the student is a child, start with only five minutes of practice for a week. Add two minutes the next week, then two more until they are practicing for 10-15 minutes, twice a day. If the child has a good attention span, you can even get in the whole 20 – 30 at once.

For adults, start with 5-7 minutes, and gradually build from there, adding 3-5 minute increments each week.

Piano practice should be fun, not a chore. This method will help make piano practice a habit without overwhelming you or tiring you out.

Get to 21 Days…Or So

Ever heard that it takes 21 days to build a habit? While that’s true for many things, it’s not necessarily true when you’re working to build a skill.

Making something a habit takes time, and the more complex the habit, the more time it takes. For instance, the 21-day rule might ring true for drinking a glass of water every day. However, it might take a bit longer to do ten pushups every morning.

Playing piano is an admittedly complex habit, and so may take you more than the traditional 21 days to really call it a habit.

Instead of feeling discouraged if you still haven’t made it a habit, instead, think of 21 days as one of many milestones.

Make it a goal to go 21 days practicing each day. The set a new goal. Perhaps 50 days, or 100. Each time you reach one of these goals, you are another step closer to making your piano practice a daily habit.

Find a Motivator

This doesn’t necessarily mean a person who screams motivational phrases at you while you throw down some Czerny practice exercises. Although if that works for you, by all means.

Instead, find something that does motivate you. For some people, this can be personal accountability or a friend who checks on your progress.

Set yourself a personal 100-day challenge. Compete against other students to see who can go the longest without taking a practice day off. Eat a cookie after each practice (or reward yourself in another way.)

Whatever helps motivate you to practice, incorporate it into your routine. This will help keep you going.

Make the Most of Your Piano Practice

Making your practice meaningful and effective will not only help your skill level, but will also keep practice engaging and fun.

When you are first beginning your practice journey and doing very short practices, it’s important to ensure you are making the most of them. In a five-minute practice session, every minute should count.

Set goals for each practice so you go in knowing exactly what is to be done. Otherwise, you may end up plunking keys for twenty minutes without actually getting any practice done.

This is going to help you make piano practice a real habit.

Effective, planned practice feels far more regarding than haphazardly throwing together twenty minutes of scales. Making your practices goal-oriented and meeting those goals consistently (make sure you are setting reasonable ones!) will help you leave practice feeling fulfilled and ready to do it again.

Shift Your Focus

Remember that you are still in the early days. Making a habit doesn’t happen overnight, and you won’t be learning any earth-shattering concertos just yet. Instead of trying to polish every skill you repertoire, shift your focus just a bit.

During this time, focus only on building the habit of playing every day. Obviously, you want quality practice, and that will come. But for now, your sole focus should be on making piano practice an integral part of your everyday life, rather than a chore.

So let go of expectations for your skill level or frustrations over hand placement. Instead, just play. Play every single day until the idea of not playing for a day is strange to you.

Once you’ve gotten into the rhythm of everyday piano practice, you can begin to watch your skills blossom.

Practicing piano is the key to building the skills necessary for playing beautifully.  But finding the time to practice and building the habit can be a challenge.

Building a habit is not an easy task, but the rewards for doing so are innumerable.

How did you solidify your practice routine? Let us know below!

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