The art of practicing: Broad principles

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Have you ever thought that, from a young student's viewpoint, practicing is counterintuitive? Think about other skills you learned as a child: tying your shoes, for example. An adult shows you how to do it (I used the "Bunny Rabbit Ears" method with my nephews), you practice clumsily at first, then with increasing mastery, until finally there is no...
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The art of practicing: I really should be practicing well

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I do apologize to Gary Graffman for filching his title as blatantly as I have, but let's face it—although the quality of one's practice may be just one factor in determining how fast and far one progresses at the piano, it's a critical one. In the studio lessons and piano classes I teach, a large percentage of the time is devoted to how to practice...
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DIGITAL-ONLY CONTENT: 20 reasons students don't practice, part two

​Bonnie Blanchard set out to discover the reasons students don't practice in the last article. Here are some of her remedies!
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DIGITAL-ONLY CONTENT: 20 reasons students don't practice, part one

Here are the reasons. Click at the bottom of the page for Bonnie's superb ideas for engaging students! ​​ They didn't sign up to practice. They don't think you care. They don't believe they can succeed. They don't know what to do. They don't know where to start. It doesn't work. They can't figure out how to fit it into their already busy ...
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Putting it all together: Creating a great lesson

I've recently been inspired to think about the essential elements of a successful lesson, prompted in part by Pete Jutras's column "Quality Ingredients" (Clavier Companion, July/August 2015) and a superb 2012 workshop that Marvin Blickenstaff presented at Nazareth College, just outside of Rochester, NY. Jutras's points—that every lesson should have...
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Practicing with backing tracks

Most young musicians learn to play their instruments with peers in a student orchestra, concert band, or group class. Student pianists, on the other hand, because they typically practice and perform alone for many years may miss out on learning essential ensemble skills such as: Steady beat—keeping a steady pulse and avoiding pauses to fix notes; L...
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Piano teaching programs reviews: Practicia

Overview Price: Free for now. Subscription pricing will take effect when beta period ends, date and price to be determined. Technical Requirements: High-speed internet connections, iPhone or iPad. Android and desktop versions currently under development. Website: practicia.com Customer support: Excellent communication ...
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First Looks: Apps for Teaching

Paper leaves a trail, and usually the trail leads to the trash can. For that reason, I prefer to avoid paper and ink and offer virtual lesson assignment sheets. All my notes for student lessons are written in Pages, a word processor app similar to Word and available for all iOS devices. The notes are emailed as a PDF (portable document file) after ...
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January/February 2017: Keyboard Kids' Companion

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To print, use the PDF below. Just click on the black bar at the top and click on the print icon!  Alternatively, you can use the down arrow and save it to your computer for sending to your favorite local office supply store for printing. Download PDF File Here
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Pencil Practice 101

Recognizing chord symbols is one of the biggest obstacles faced by beginning improvisers learning to play from lead sheets. Just as foreign language students write conjugations to become better speakers, pianists can improve their chord fluency with pencil practice away from the piano. Writing chords by key Follow these steps together with your stu...
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The challenges and joys of intermediate teaching

Intermediate Students are Different from Elementary and Advanced Students Intermediate-level piano students present unique and greater challenges than do students at other levels and ages. Elementary-level students are constantly learning new concepts and skills. Their curiosity and imaginations are aroused. They are amazed by their abilities ...
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Preparing the mind and body for performance: Conquering stage fright through effective practice

The brain is a complex organ. It controls our systemic functions and sparks our moods, thoughts, and actions. Physiologically, the brain registers fear differently, depending upon the threat. People suffering from panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a "flight or fight" response, but those grappling with performance anxi...
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Building Better Practicers

One of our greatest responsibilities as teachers is to provide our students with the skills and strategies to practice and improve independently. In working to attain this goal, we carefully plan our students' course of study, meticulously analyze their pieces, and walk our students through detailed workouts of their new repertoire in their lessons...
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Of Robots and Clones

 "Motivating students to practice and developing students who know how to use their practice time wisely is our biggest single challenge as teachers." – Frances Clark It seems quite simple: We teachers give our students excellent practice guidelines, our students practice in precisely the way we have painstakingly communicated via assignment s...
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The "How-Tos" of Practicing

Probably the most important thing we can teach our students is how to practice. And, one of the most challenging things we teach is how to practice well. When we teach practice strategies that instill attention to detail and develop problem-solving skills, we help students understand how to organize life's challenges into daily, weekly, and longer-...
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Practice Steps for Successful, Independent Learning

Recently, I interviewed a prospective student; a delightful, curious, 5-year old boy. Prior to the meeting, his mother informed me that he had been studying privately for two years already, at first taking three lessons per week, and more recently, two lessons per week. I was intrigued to see what he had learned. When they arrived for the interview...
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Productive Practicing: The hidden part of the iceberg

The demands of playing the piano at an advanced level are varied and complex. The list of skills pianists need to learn seems endless, and many of them are subtle and time consuming to master. How long does it take to understand the pedal (Anton Rubinstein's "soul of the piano") and its possibilities? How much practicing does it take to absorb the ...
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Driving practice home

by Shirley Penzi The first piece of furniture my husband and I bought for our new home was a fine Mason & Hamlin piano. We placed it prominently in the sunset room and cared for it meticulously. But it sat mostly idle, beckoning to be played for several years. When our daughter, Summer, was three-and-a-half years old, we began to feel she was r...
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Proverbs for Pianists

There is a great deal of wisdom encapsulated in proverbs. While they are meant to apply to life in general, they also have specific applications to piano playing and teaching. I enjoy using these aphorisms while teaching, and they often become a quick way of reminding students of a principle that is eluding them at the moment. "A chain is only as g...
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What is the "practice toolbox" you use with your students?

Helping our students learn how to achieve expression, ease, and accuracy in their playing requires that we impart effective practice procedures. Some of these involve the how of playing, what we commonly call technique: awareness of how we move and use our bodies; how to prepare, execute, and follow-through when creating gestures; when to relax, wh...
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About Piano Magazine

Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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