Are you trying to become a better pianist but aren’t sure where to start? Maybe you’ve been faithfully playing and practicing for years but feel a bit stuck. Or maybe you’re simply looking for inspiration to keep going.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to become a better pianist, I’ve got something for you! From podcasts to equipment to courses, you are guaranteed to find something unique and helpful on your own piano journey.
Let’s get started!
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Track Your Practice
If your goal is to become a better pianist, practice is key! And although this post is full of helpful tools to get you there, nothing can ever replace consistency.
Small actions repeated over and over again add up to big victories.
Victories such as flawlessly playing that piece which once seemed hopelessly out of reach. Successfully sight-reading all types and styles of music. And performing the piece you absolutely adore from memory.
Victory looks a little different for everyone but the common denominator is consistent practice.
Staying consistent has its challenges, especially if you have a busy life. As a mom of 3 who also works full time, I know firsthand how difficult it is to fit everything in. Between homework, housework, and your actual work, life can feel pretty overwhelming. And when you’re a mom, putting your goals and dreams on hold often feels like the path of least resistance.
But is it really easier to simply ignore who you are beyond wife and mom? Is it easier to give up those things which excite you and make life worth living?
Don’t get me wrong. There are times in your life when your focus needs to be on your family. But it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your own goals entirely. It may simply mean you have to shift how you go after those goals.
And if consistent practice is what you’re after, I’ve got the perfect solution for you!
1. The App Designed for Musicians by a Musician
Practicing consistently has been a struggle for me as long as I can remember. I would go through stretches where my practice was extremely consistent however these tended to be few and far between. And my playing suffered for it.
A couple of years ago, I was listening to a podcast and was introduced to one of the most helpful apps I’ve ever come across. An app designed by a musician to assist fellow musicians in not only achieving consistency but in getting the most from each session.
The app is called Modacity and it has tons of features to help you become a better pianist. From a metronome to a tuner to recording features, this app has it all!
It even has the ability to track the amount of time you spend practicing each day, a huge incentive to achieve consistency. Adding even 5 minutes a day to your practice total is extremely motivating. And for me, adding more time is enough to overcome any internal objections I may have to sitting down in front of the keys on any given day.
In fact, my back-to-back daily practice record was a few days over 365 this summer when an emotional incident derailed my efforts. I’m happy to say that my practice consistency has now gotten back on track and I am again going after any time I can get at the keys.
Other than the practice counter, the feature I love most about Modacity is the recording feature. There are many times when I’m practicing that I want to record and critique a section of my playing. Modacity allows me to quickly and easily record without any interruption in my practice session. It then gives me the option of whether to save or delete the recording. A truly useful feature which has definitely helped me become a better pianist!
2. Up Your Practice Game
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”Mark Twain – The Musician’s Way, pg. 6
Aside from consistent practice, one of the best ways to become a better pianist is to analyze your practice sessions. Are you playing with purpose or simply playing to play? Do you have a goal whenever you sit down to play? And do you know the steps you need to take for improvement?
I will be the first to admit that for most of my piano playing years, I was under the mistaken impression that more practice time = instant improvement. It never occurred to me that the quality of that time makes a huge difference in whether you linger in obscurity or whether you actually become a better pianist.
And it may sound strange but there were so many times I would sit down to practice and had no idea where to start. How should I allot my practice time? What are the best ways to resolve technical difficulties? How do I get rid of tension in my playing? What are the memorization tactics which result in the strongest recall?
I felt completely and utterly stuck.
Despite my frustration, I continued to love playing and desperately wanted to become a better pianist.
My desire to improve led me on a search for answers. Answers for how I could maximize my practice time and actually become a better pianist.
And then one day, I stumbled upon the book that changed everything for me.
The Ultimate Guide to Practice
“We first make our habits and then, our habits make us.”John Dryden – The Musician’s Way, pg. 20
The Musician’s Way, written by Gerald Klickstein, is a comprehensive guide to practice and performance. This book breaks down nearly every practice-related topic into small, easily understood concepts. From defining practice to creating your ideal practice space to preventing injury, this book covers it all.
- Wondering how you can solve your own technical issues even if you’re not working directly with a teacher?
- Curious about the habits of musical excellence?
- Looking for answers on how you can stay motivated to practice?
- Struggling with memorization?
- Are you searching for the key to fearless performances?
It’s all covered in this one resource which I consider essential for all musicians.
To say that this book took my playing from ordinary to extraordinary would be an understatement. It revolutionized the way I approach practice and inspired me on a deeper level.
In short, this book gave me tangible strategies to make my practice not only more effective but more efficient. And who doesn’t love efficiency???
Give yourself the gift of The Musician’s Way by clicking here.
Click here for tips on improving your piano practice.
3. Get Inspired with a Podcast
If you’re a busy person who also wants to learn, podcasts are the best! Not only are they packed full of great information but they are also typically free.
And in the quest to become a better pianist, there are some truly great podcasts out there!
The Bulletproof Musician
Learning to play an instrument generally involves performance at some point. Whether it’s in front of your teacher, a crowded auditorium, various family members, or your dog, there are times when you will have an audience.
And performance opportunities may very well mean performance anxiety.
Performance anxiety has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember but hit its peak for me in college. A couple of years ago, I began searching for answers on how to finally conquer my stage fright and found The Bulletproof Musician podcast.
One of the most compelling aspects of the podcast is that creator Noa Kageyama has personal experience with performance anxiety. Having learned to play violin at a young age, he began to notice inconsistencies in his performances as he got older. While studying at Juilliard, he had the opportunity to take a sport psychology class geared toward musicians. The class changed everything and propelled his career into a new direction.
Noa has spent years helping others overcome performance anxiety and the podcast is full of his very best advice. Although he has the experience to back up his knowledge, he relies strongly on research evidence, an aspect which lends further credibility to his advice.
He also frequently interviews prominent musicians about their own experiences. Listening to personal stories about performance challenges is incredibly inspiring and normalizes the performance anxiety experience.
If performance anxiety is holding you back, I highly encourage you to check out The Bulletproof Musician!
The Mind Over Finger Podcast
“Practicing is not forced labor; it is a refined art that partakes of intuition, of inspiration, patience, elegance, clarity, balance, and, above all, the search for ever greater joy in movement and expression.”Yehudi Menuhin – The Musician’s Way, pg. 4
All musicians know that practice is the path to mastery. But practice is only effective if you are actively engaging in the process. Mindless repetition and practice without goals gets you nowhere.
If your goal is to become a better pianist, you MUST understand how to make practice work for you.
The Musician’s Way helped me master the basics of efficient and effective practice. And to advance, you first have to understand the foundational aspects of practice.
The Mind Over Finger Podcast transformed my basic understanding of practice into true mastery. It has been a constant source of new inspiration and motivation for me in my own practice.
Host Dr. Renee-Paule Gauthier hones in on most useful practice elements, dissecting each into bite-sized pieces which can immediately be implemented in your own sessions. She also explores a variety of music-related topics guaranteed to propel your musicianship to the next level.
One of the more compelling aspects of her podcast is the interviews she conducts with a wide range of musicians. From conductors to authors to musicians, her interviews run the gamut and guarantee that you WILL discover something useful!
4. Become a Better Pianist with this Essential Tool
The intriguing thing about making music is that it’s simply one moment in time. One tiny sliver of emotional expression in life similar to a ripple in the ocean. Once you play the note, it’s forever gone, never to return again.
Unless, of course, you capture that moment.
I spent so many wasted years trying to critique my playing in real-time. My vain attempts only resulted in mindless repetitions and frustration because the truth of the matter is that you can’t play and critique simultaneously.
Playing and critiquing require two entirely separate thought processes and trying to do both simultaneously mean you’ll do neither very well.
Luckily, there’s an incredibly simple solution which virtually guarantees you will immediately become a better pianist.
And if you’re looking for ease and quality, look no further than the Blue Yeti USB microphone.
After I became serious about improving my piano skills a couple years ago, I searched high and low for the absolute best in recording. My goal was to find something which was both easy to operate and of the highest quality. This particular microphone checked off both those boxes.
The Blue Yeti USB microphone requires no complicated set-ups or adjustments. Simply plug the USB cord into your computer and begin recording. It’s that simple.
The one piece of advice I will give is that you want to make sure there are a set of headphones plugged into the microphone itself to cut down on background noise. Do this and you will be amazed at the sound quality you’re able to capture with this incredibly reasonably priced equipment! This microphone has hands-down been one of the best investments I’ve made for my own playing.
5. Invest in Yourself
If you’ve been trying to become a better pianist but have limited access to one-on-one piano coaching, this next one is for you! I would never try to suggest that an online course can replace the value of working closely with an instructor. But there are times in life when you are simply unable to participate in regular lessons.
Maybe you live in an area where the closest piano instructor lives several hours away. Or maybe between work and kids, you simply don’t have time to both prepare for and attend weekly lessons. Maybe there’s a global pandemic and you are hesitant to attend in-person lessons for fear of getting sick.
Ok … if you had asked me about that last one a year ago, I would’ve told you that you were straight out of crazy town. But somehow, here we are. Who knew???
Regardless of why instructor-led lessons are a barrier for you, I’ve got the perfect solution!
Josh Wright is an internationally acclaimed pianist with a passion for helping others on their own piano journeys. He has an array of helpful courses perfect for anyone who wants to become a better pianist.
I have seen incredible leaps in my own pianism after joining his paid course. So much so that I immediately began spreading the word to others about how valuable his courses are. You can read my story of finding his courses and why I recommend others check it out here.
It’s Your Turn
I truly hope you have found this post inspiring on your own journey to become a better pianist! Give something new a try today … you just might be amazed at how far it will take you!
As always, I would love to hear what you found most helpful and whether you have any helpful tips or advice to share with others. Until next time … happy practicing!
Become a Better Pianist Resources
In case you missed them, here are links to the resources discussed above.
Click here to check out The Musician’s Way book.
Go here to check out the Blue Yeti USB microphone.
Click here to check out Josh Wright’s online courses.