How to Practice Piano: 7 Tips to Upgrade Your Piano Practice

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Playing the piano is an exciting creative process that brings us a lot of joy, pleasure, happiness and inspiration. But playing piano is not only fun. In order to achieve success in music, you need many hours of regular practice.

Daily practice is the most important key to mastering the piano and making great progress in music.

This raises important questions: how much practice do you need? What exactly should be in every lesson? How to organize your piano lessons? How to build a practice routine for fast and effective progress?

The main problem that every student faces is the lack of time for music lessons. In the modern world, we are always in a hurry somewhere and we always have more important things to do than the piano. Therefore, piano lessons often fade into the background.

Many people make a common mistake. They think that if today I don’t have time for a 2-hour practice session, then today I won’t practice at all. This is absolutely wrong!

In order for your lessons to be useful and for you to quickly progress, you do not need many hours of practice. The most important thing is to correctly build a program for your practice.

In this article, we answer the question of how to practice piano effectively and share 7 tips to improve your piano playing.

Piano Practice Routine. 7 Tips to Upgrade Your Piano Practice

First, let’s see what each practice should consist of? I strongly do not recommend to play only your favorite pieces, or only those pieces that you learn with the teacher in the lessons.

What should each practice session consist of?

The daily practice program should consist of three parts: exercises or scales – 20% of your practice time, reading sheet music or sight reading – 20%, and learning your music pieces – 60%. Of course, the time indicated is approximate and depends on your level of training.

Let’s look at 7 top tips to make your practice even more effective!

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Tip 1: Mental Practice

Yes, yes, you were not mistaken! Learning a new piece is not only playing that piece on the piano. You can learn music even when you’re away from the piano!

Start practicing piano without piano! The work begins with mental work away from the piano. How to do it?

  1. Explore your piece of music! Who is the composer? What era does he belong to? It can be Baroque, Classicism, Romanticism, etc. In what country did the composer live?
  2. Listen carefully to your piano piece. Also, listen to other works by the same composer and works by other composers of the same era and country. Don’t limit yourself to piano music only! You can listen to works for other instruments, symphonies, and operas.
  3. I also recommend paying additional attention to painting, literature, and architecture of the same era and country. For example, if you play Debussy, be sure to look at the paintings of the French Impressionists – Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Edouard Manet.
  4. Study the score. What is the tempo of your piece? What character? Should it sound melancholy or dramatic, joyful or tragic? What are the dynamics? What are the technical difficulties in the play? You can see all this in the sheet music and it will help you in your further practice. Knowledge of music theory will help you with this.

Tip 2: Stay Focused

For effective classes, the right attitude is very important! You should be rested, relaxed, and focused only on the piano.

You need to be concentrated on the right movements and on the right extraction of the sound. If during class you think about something else, not focused, it is more likely to do harm than good.

Successful practice requires full concentration! But don’t worry, at the beginning your lessons are short and it won’t be too difficult. And in the future, with experience, you will be able to concentrate on playing for much longer than 30 minutes.

Tip 3: Practice Technique

The proper practicing technique is the key to your success in learning the piano. Without the right technique, your practice will not bring the expected benefits.

What must be done during your practice time? There are some very important points to pay attention to!

Warm Up First!

At the beginning of each practice, there is an obligatory part – a warm-up. Without it, it is impossible to start working on musical works. This is important for the development of your technique. Warming up will help you avoid tension in the future when practicing difficult pieces.

There are 5 different exercises that you can play to warm up. Ask your teacher for advice and choose the best option with him. Regular exercises will become good habits for you.

1. Basic FIVE-FINGER Exercise

This exercise is a good practice for the right hand positions.

2. Exercise for Flexible Wrist

It’s an important exercise for very beginning piano students.

3. Exercise for Arm Weight

Another indispensable exercise for beginner students. Try to pay attension to every note.

4. Exercise for Finger Independence

I recommend including this exercise in every practice sessions. It will help both beginners and advanced students if they notice a lack of finger independence and difficulty in playing passages.

5. Scales and Arpeggios

Scales and arpeggios should be present in the practice sessions of both beginners and advanced students. They offer us a huge variety of difficulty levels. Everyone will find for himself what is necessary to improve his level.

Practice in Sections

Divide your practice into small parts! If you are studying a large piece, look at what sections it consists of. You don’t have to play from A to Z! Take a small episode and study it separately. This way you can learn the piece much faster.

You can take for example 2 lines and practice them. When they start to look good, move on to the next 2 lines. Just do as much as you can without getting overwhelmed.

You can just focus on two lines for 20 minutes of your practice. Do not rush, slowly repeat all the notes and rhythms.

But I know it’s really tempting to play the whole piece. I recommend rewarding yourself with this at the end of the practice. If you have practiced well, the last few minutes just enjoy your playing!

Practice the tricky parts

Usually, in every music piece, there are some more difficult parts. Don’t ignore them, these are the parts you need to pay more attention to! Be sure to learn the difficult episodes separately, starting at a slower pace.

Practice the ‘Boring’ Things to Improve Technique

Yes, classes are boring! But it is they who subsequently lead to virtuoso piano playing. Scales and arpeggios, chords, exercises, learning at a slow pace, playing with a metronome – all of these are not very fun, but are very important for quickly progressing on your music instrument.

If you find it difficult to do boring things, ask your teacher what it is for. It will be easier for you to play the exercises if you know the end goal and understand what benefits they bring to you.

Tip 4: Practice Slowly

Slow practice is very important for muscle memory. Slow muscle movements train the brain and muscle memory. You will make progress faster if you first teach your muscles to move slowly and accurately. Be sure to concentrate on all your movements.

Start learning each part at a slow practice tempo. Use the metronome to make sure you are not speeding up or slowing down. It is also useful to count the beats out loud.

If you play without errors at a slow tempo, gradually increase the speed until you reach the desired faster tempo.

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Repetition is a very important part of practice, especially at a slow pace.

Find difficult passages in your piece. Take one difficult episode, maybe a few lines or bars, or just one measure, and repeat it several times at a slow tempo, achieving a clear and correct playing.

Divide one tricky section into its smallest pieces and study it in the following steps:

  1. Play the part for each hand separately. Repeat the score for each hand several times.
  2. First, learn just the right hand in a small area, then the left hand.
  3. Then put both parts together. Рlay slowly and listen to each note.
  4. Gradually try to play faster. It will get easier each time!

Repeat all these steps with each difficult place in the piece.

Listen while you play

Yes, this may sound strange. But it is important not just to listen, but to listen carefully to your playing! Pay attention to the rhythm, to the dynamics, to the beauty of sound production, to every note!

Pay attention to any errors, wrong notes, or inaccuracies. Frequent play with mistakes leads to the development of bad habits. This is a signal that this episode needs to be improved. This is especially important when preparing for concerts.

Constant listening helps us play beautifully!

Pay attention to dynamics and enjoy yourself

Be sure to make time for dynamics. Playing forte or piano, making crescendo and diminuendo – all these skills also require practice.

You need to play with dynamic shades both at a slow pace and at a fast pace. Try to match the dynamics to the nature of the piece. Usually, composers put dynamic designations in notes and we must follow them. But if there are no signs of dynamics, try to come up with a dynamic plan for a music piece yourself.

Tip 5: Create a Practice Schedule

Planning and scheduling practice sessions will allow you to control your progress. Think about what goal you want to achieve. It can be a concert performance or some special piece of music. If you have a specific goal and a plan for how to achieve it, it will be easier for you to plan your classes.

Do not set too global and elusive goal! If you are a beginner and you want to play a Chopin concerto with an orchestra, it will be very difficult for you to achieve this.

Imagine your path to that goal and divide it into a large number of small pieces, and each piece should have its own small goal. You will achieve your goals and move forward without losing motivation and enjoying the lessons.

Consistent practice, regular lessons – this is the key to achieving all your goals. Build your practice schedule according to your goals.

Practice Consistently

Consistency is important both in class and in achieving your goals. Regular practice, even if only 30 minutes a day, will guarantee you progress, as opposed to the occasional ill-conceived long practice once a week or just before a lesson with a teacher.

Try to make a schedule for your classes and stick to it as much as possible.

Tip 6: “Chunk” Your Practice Session

Learning piano is a difficult process. It requires the simultaneous execution of many actions – reading sheet music, coordination of movements, hearing, and attention. This can be quite difficult, especially for beginners. Therefore, I do not advise spending too much time on daily practice. It is better to divide a long practice into parts.

Spread out your practice if necessary

Don’t overload yourself! If you are already at an advanced level and you are learning a lot of pieces, you do not need to learn everything at once. For example, if you want to study two or three hours a day, you can divide that time into 2 or 3 shorter periods.

Tip 7: Record yourself

While playing tour pieces, we are not always able to be concentrated enough to hear and remember all the mistakes or inaccuracies.

I advise you to sometimes record your playing on video. You can ask your family member to help you. You will be able to notice what you missed while playing. This will help you improve your playing faster, and help you choose the right pace and dynamics in musical plays.

Well, recording good options will be an excellent family memory!

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Piano Practice FAQ

Should You Practice Piano Every Day?

Yes, it is advisable to practice the piano every day. If you are a beginner and your lessons are short enough, I suggest you play the piano every day. It is advisable to devote some time to playing the piano even on weekends. Small daily lessons will give much more benefit than long lessons 1 or 2 times a week.

If you are an intermediate or advanced student and your classes already take more than 1-2 hours a day, I advise you to give yourself rest on the weekends. This will give you the opportunity to mentally take a break from difficult activities and give your arm muscles a chance to recover. Yes, playing the piano is something like training athletes!

How Long Should a Beginner Practice Piano?

There is no hard and fast rule that tells us how long we need to play. Professional pianists spend 5-7 hours at the instrument! But, of course, for a beginner, it takes much less time.

For a young beginner, 30 minutes a day is enough. For an adult beginner, I would recommend 45 minutes.

It is very important to monitor your well-being and fatigue level. If you feel tired and find it hard to concentrate, it’s time to stop exercising and take a break!

How many hours a day should you practice piano?

It depends on your goals and your level. I recommend practicing every day. I consider the minimum required time is 30 minutes for beginners and up to 7 hours for professionals for practice sessions.

What should I practice on piano for beginners?

Each effective practice should consist of three partswarm-up (exercises for fingers and hands, scales, chords), learning notes and reading sheet music, and learning musical pieces.

For children, about 10 minutes is enough for each step. For adult beginners – 15 minutes each. And for continuing students, I recommend allocating time in the ratio of 20% + 20% + 60% of practice time.

How can I practice piano by myself?

For self-study, you can use online programs or YouTube courses. You can find a large number of videos with exercises, scales, arpeggios, and learning easy songs. I recommend that you find a personal teacher or group classes and attend them at least once a week, and preferably 2 times a week. In combination with daily self-practices, this will give a good result.


Regular practice is an integral part of any pianist’s life. In this article, we have given you 7 practice tips on how to best organize your lessons. Playing the musical instrument requires a lot of support, patience, and diligence.

I have one more piece of advice. If you learn music, try to organize your practice during the daytime. If you are practicing in the evening, pay attention to the lighting. When you sit practicing, make sure your sheets are easily accessible and visible. Proper lighting is the key to good concentration during classes and practice and your health.

Don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal! Remember that every activity brings you closer to your dream.

I hope that you have found useful information in this article and will be able to organize your piano practice in the best way. Believe in yourself, enjoy the music and your playing piano and you will succeed!

Best regards, your Lucy.

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