The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Kids to Practice Piano

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Kids to Practice Piano

You’ve signed your kids up for piano lessons. Everything was going smoothly in the beginning. Your kids were excited about starting, and getting your kids to practice piano was effortless.

But something shifted.

Suddenly you find yourself begging, bargaining, and pleading to get them to practice. Or yelling. And maybe the yelling is as mutual as the frustration surrounding the topic of practice.

What gives? Your kids were thrilled at the prospect of learning to play the piano. And you, being the well-informed and conscientious mom you are, were eagerly awaiting their transformation into brilliant, well-rounded tiny humans.

Was enrolling your kids in piano lessons a mistake? Maybe you’re questioning your parenting abilities and secretly fear their practice aversion is somehow your fault.

As a pianist and a mom, believe me when I say that getting kids to practice can be as much art as creating music. But you can do it! You can guide your kids into the opportunity of a lifetime WITHOUT tears and screaming.

And it all starts with understanding why your kids avoid piano practice.

This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the photos appearing on this page. All photos courtesy of twinsterphoto and FamVeld from Getty Images via Canva.

Why is getting your kids to practice piano so difficult?

I will go out on a limb and say that most kids hate piano practice for two reasons. The first is that it can be tedious. For the most part, kids are constantly overstimulated. Flashing screens, bouncing cursors, and billions of on-demand videos seem way more exciting than a piano, a book, and a pencil.

I’m not here to deny the many benefits that come with being constantly keyed into the online world.

But I will point out that our attention span is now around 6 seconds. According to several sources, this is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish.

Maybe this article should instead be about teaching your pet fish to play the piano?

But in all seriousness, piano practice requires focus, which no longer comes naturally to most people. It’s instead something that must be trained.

The second reason kids hate practice is that they have no idea how to spend their practice time. Your kids know they need to practice because you and their teacher tell them to, but they don’t actually know how.

And because your kids don’t know how to practice, their piano practice time often becomes monotonous.

Practice: Stuck on Repeat

Between the boredom and uncertainty of what practice should entail, it’s no wonder piano practice gets such a bad rap. And it’s no wonder kids instead gravitate toward other activities and learn to dread practice time.

But at its core, music is about creativity. It’s about the expression of human emotion. And it’s about individuality.

Music is the exact opposite of boredom.

So how can you convince your kids that piano practice is a really fun and exciting way to spend their time?

We’ll get there, but first, let’s explore what practice is and what it is not.

Somewhere along the line, piano practice became synonymous with repetition. In other words, practice means you play something repeatedly until you can suddenly play it correctly. And then you come back the next day and simply repeat what you did yesterday all over again. You do this day after day until you go back to your lesson, at which point your teacher assigns new songs, and the cycle continues.

And so on and so forth until the end of time.

Seriously. How boring does that sound?

Repetition vs. Practice

On the surface, repeating something until it’s perfect seems to make sense. Isn’t that why they say, “practice makes perfect?”

But let me ask you something. Does simply repeating something mean you will automatically get better?

Let’s say I want to dunk like Michael Jordan. I decide to “practice” by making 500 shots. But by the end of my session, I’m still nowhere near his skill level. What gives?

Repetition does not guarantee improvement. Actual progress comes first from identifying exactly what you want to improve. You then must find a specific tactic to get better at that thing.

I realize that this may seem far into the weeds on a post about getting your kids to practice piano. But I think it’s important to understand both the barriers to and significance of practice.

At that point, you can help your kids find excitement and meaning in their practice sessions. And you can kiss the tantrums goodbye!

If you’ve fallen into the repetition as practice trap, please don’t feel bad about it! There are far fewer resources out there on effective practice than there are about playing an instrument.

Teachers everywhere expect students to practice and somehow assume students know what that means. I’ve been playing piano for nearly 30 years and will be the first to say that I associated repetition with practice for far too long.

I still fall into the repetition trap from time to time. But thanks to this post, you have the resources to help turn all that around for your kids!

A Controversial Practice Philosophy

This next section may seem contrary to everything I’ve said thus far, but it still deserves telling. Piano lessons are about introducing your kids to new skills and an outlet for their creativity.

The right kind of practice is essential for growth, but every kid is an individual. And chances are, your kids will not grow up to be concert pianists.

But could every kid who takes piano lessons foster a hobby they will enjoy for the rest of their lives? Absolutely.

The art of practice is valuable in and of itself. It’s an opportunity to teach your kids how to improve at something. It teaches them about persistence and creative problem-solving.

And these are lessons that are applicable beyond the keyboard.

Many piano teachers out there have mandatory practice requirements. And I agree that practice is vital for improving. But not every kid needs the same amount of practice to make improvements.

And depending upon the goals your kids have for themselves; their practice sessions may look different.

Let your kids explore piano in a way that excites them. Make practice something they look forward to instead of something they dread. Now let’s dive into getting your kids to practice piano!

Get Your Kids to Practice Piano by Setting Reasonable Goals

My very first recommendation for getting your kids to practice piano is to sit down with them and talk about practice goals. Their teacher may have a weekly practice expectation, but how do your kids feel about this requirement?

And how does this requirement fit into their current obligations?

Many piano teachers would love to think that kids devote themselves to the piano at the exclusion of all else. But this kind of thinking isn’t realistic in today’s world.

Kids are involved in many activities, and why shouldn’t they be? Life is about exploration and learning new things. The truth is that you can fit regular practice into any schedule, regardless of how busy that schedule is.

But everyone has to be on the same page about the goals your piano kid has for themself.

Start with the following questions to get the conversation started with your kids:

  • What other activities are you involved with, and how much time do you realistically have available for practice?
  • Does your teacher have a minimum practice requirement?
  • When is the best time to get your practice done?
  • What are the barriers you see to getting practice done daily?
  • And are there strategies you can use to overcome those barriers?

The keyword here is REASONABLE. There’s no room for guilt, and if you have 5 minutes a day for practice, it’s better than nothing!

Stick to a Consistent Daily Practice Time

Once you’ve had the practice discussion with your kids, it’s time to set a consistent daily practice time. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve decided on 5 or 50 minutes of daily practice time; the key is consistency.

Consider whether your kids may benefit from multiple short practice sessions rather than one long one. Research shows that keeping sessions short promotes more effective learning. As an example, if your goal is 30 minutes a day, try to break it up into three 10-minute sessions.

Try to attach practice time to another established habit. An example of this might be sitting down at the piano immediately following their afterschool snack every day.

Some families find that practicing before school works better than after. Our family is not quite that evolved yet, but it’s something I’m considering for the future.

Again, the key is consistency. Your kids will take more away from multiple, short daily sessions than one long session once a week.

Help Your Kids Structure Their Practice Time

Now it’s time to get creative! If you take one thing from this post, I hope it’s that practice should be anything but dull repetition.

Have a conversation with your kids’ piano teacher about what should happen during practice. Get ideas for how you can help your kids spice up their practice time.

Send a notebook to lessons so their teacher can write down weekly practice goals.

Find out what drives your kids to learn the instrument. Are they really into pop music? Do they love classical? Or do they adore video game music?

Whatever your kids are into, I guarantee there’s piano music for it out there. Ask the teacher for recommendations on music that’s level appropriate and accessible.

Incorporate the music they love into their practice routine. Use it as a reward for getting through the stuff that’s important but not as fun.

Find out whether they can use apps or websites during practice time to beef up their musical knowledge.

I know this sounds like a fair amount of work but staying active in the process will help your kids have a better experience. It shows that you’re invested in their learning.

Get Your Kids to Practice Piano by Learning with Your Kids

And speaking of learning, have you considered taking piano lessons along with your kids? Sharing the experience of learning is a great way to bond with your kids.

It gives you more patience and empathy for your kids when you come home tired from a long day at work and aren’t necessarily enthused about practice either.

And it allows you to show your kids that you’re never too old to learn something new.

Whether you’re a total beginner or dabbled as a child, now is the best time to get back into it!

If you’re intrigued by taking lessons, make sure you check out my post about how to learn piano as an adult.

Reward Their Efforts

Help your kids feel good about their efforts by rewarding them for a job well done. Maybe it’s a small weekly reward for hitting their goal time. Or perhaps it’s a larger reward for mastering a particular piece.

Many parents find success with practice charts. I use an app to document practice and find it both motivating and rewarding.

Whatever the reward, it’s important to teach them the art of celebrating their wins.

Perhaps fidgets or stickers from Amazon will be enough to entice them?

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For information on the practice app that I love, check out this post.

Connect with Other Learners

Some of my most memorable musical experiences have come from performances with others. Music is not meant to be a solitary pursuit, so look for ways to help your kids get involved with other musical kids.

One of the major benefits of learning piano is countless opportunities to collaborate. From chamber music to choir to solo accompaniment, the possibilities are endless!

I even recently discovered how fun worship band playing could be.

Introducing your kids to the world of musical collaboration may be just the secret sauce you need to spark their learning!

Many teachers have performance requirements built into their studio policies and encourage collaboration with other kids.

And if your kids are shy about performing, a friend may be vital to helping them have positive performance experiences. It’s truly a win-win situation that will hopefully foster a lifetime of teamwork and collaboration skills applicable outside the realm of music.

Student/Teacher Fit

I’ve mentioned piano teachers here and there throughout this post, but if your kids are quite opposed to practice, it’s worth a conversation with their teacher.

There may be a mismatch between the teacher’s expectations for your kids and the expectations your kids have for themselves. Piano teachers have a reputation for being rigidly type A, and although not all teachers are that way, many are.

Personality clashes can result in and make lessons a drag for your kids. And I’m not saying lessons should be all rainbows and sunshine, but the mark of a good teacher is how your kid feels when they leave lessons for the day.

Do your kids feel inspired to reach new musical levels? Or are they guilt-ridden about not achieving some hypothetical practice requirement?

To minimize practice resistance and maximize learning goals, you must have a good fit between the teacher and the student. If your goal is to expose your kids to music and foster a love of music, it’s crucial that the teacher understands and supports these goals.

But if your kids have a more serious goal of achieving mastery of the instrument, you must find a teacher capable of guiding their journey.

Neither goal is right or wrong. And there are all kinds of teachers out there. Make sure you find one who fosters the type of learning most beneficial to your kids.

Don’t Sweat It

Although this has been a post all about the ins and outs of getting your kids to practice piano, don’t sweat it if none of the above advice works. All kids are individuals and take different things away from their learning experiences.

Will the teacher become frustrated if they have to guide your kids through something they should have practiced at home? Possibly.

But there’s no way of knowing the future impact continuing lessons will have on your kids. This is true whether or not they practice.

I’m a firm believer that even if your kids are not fond of practice, there’s value in the experience of taking lessons and learning something new. I don’t believe that kids should quit lessons because they don’t practice.

I believe that there is an opportunity to explore goals and have a conversation about the value of the experience.

And maybe your kids decide that they really hate the piano.

That’s ok too. Maybe you can use this opportunity to get them involved with a different instrument.

And maybe they will discover an instrument they are deeply passionate about, and you will never need to have the practice discussion ever again.

All this to say, never guilt yourself about your kids not putting in the practice time. There is a massive range of reasons why daily practice may be unrealistic. And it’s pointless to take a turn to negative town for things beyond your control.

Know that by enrolling your kids in lessons, you are opening them up to a world of new experiences and possibilities. And isn’t that, in and of itself, enough?

It’s Your Turn

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. What are the barriers you face to consistent practice? Are there ways you have found to spice up your kids’ practice time? And have you pursued piano lessons for yourself?

Whatever your feedback, I’d love to hear all about it!

More great piano inspiration is to come but, in the meantime, make sure you check out one of the following posts:

Why You’ll Never Regret Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

Why You’ll Never Regret Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

If you’ve been a mom for more than 5 minutes, you know parenting comes with its share of choices. Some are easy. But others are hard and come with the looming threat of regret.

Like when you let a particular word slip one too many times and learn that your little exhibits his expanded vocabulary at daycare.

Or when you needed 10 minutes of peace and quiet only to discover your munchkin used the time to try her hand at dog grooming. And now your poodle is sporting what can only be referred to as the “dog vs. lawnmower” cut.

Let’s not forget when you let the kids talk you into getting a snake. It was all fun and games until someone left the cage open. And now you have a snake loose in your house. Just waiting to make his appearance when you least expect it.

Parenting is full of fun little life lessons.

But there is one decision that, when made, you’ll never regret. And that decision is enrolling your kids in piano lessons.

This post may contain affiliate links, and as an affiliate of Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. I take no credit for the photos appearing on this page. All photos courtesy of Ivan-balvan, rfranca, and yanukit from Getty Images via Canva.

At a Glance: Top Reasons for Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

At this point, you may be asking yourself why I dare to make such a bold statement. You’re likely asking yourself what I’m trying to sell. Or whether I have ulterior motives behind convincing you to enroll your kids in piano lessons.

And the simple answer is that I am the product of being enrolled in piano lessons as a child. I started piano lessons at the age of 7 and continued through college.

Of all the decisions my parents made on my behalf, I am most thankful they decided to sit me down in front of the piano. It’s been the blessing of a lifetime and one I encourage you to consider for your children.

And since I know you’re busy, here’s a bulleted list of the top reasons you should consider enrolling your kids in piano lessons:

  • Spark their creativity
  • Teach them how to solve problems
  • Boost their confidence
  • Inspire them to view failure as an opportunity to learn
  • Ignite a passion they can pursue for the rest of their lives
  • Ensure they will reach their full potential

And if you have a few quiet minutes to yourself, please know how much I appreciate you spending them with me! Silence is a precious commodity in parenthood, and your support means the world. 🙂

I promise to make the time worth your while, so let’s dive right in!

Spark Their Creativity

When you hear the word “creativity,” what comes to mind? In the context of your kids, maybe macaroni art and Crayola scribbles come to mind. My brain automatically travels to cut and pasted creations hastily stuffed into backpacks at the end of the day.

But did you know that creativity has broader applications beyond hand-eye coordination and the ability to follow directions? According to an article written by Paul Patrone on LinkedIn, creativity is the most important skill in the world.1

Patrone explains that creativity is widely valued because employers want innovation. They want people who can approach old problems in new and exciting ways. Jobs that can be automated are typically on the lower end of the pay scale or have been eliminated thanks to AI.

Success in work and life, therefore, demands creativity.

And although glue, crayons, and construction paper have taken creative credit for years, learning a musical instrument is another fantastic way to introduce creativity.

Learning to play the piano simultaneously stimulates multiple areas of their brain and encourages alternative forms of creativity. And expanding creativity is only one of many life skills gained by enrolling your kids in piano lessons. Let’s move on to the second.

Teach Them How to Solve Problems

“Life is a continuous exercise in creative problem-solving.”

Michael Gelb

One of the most exciting parts of having kids is watching them figure stuff out. And when kids are young, they LIVE to do things independently! It doesn’t matter how simple the task; kids love self-reliance.

How many times did you stand outside in the rain so little Addison could buckle her own seatbelt? Or watch Logan spill milk all over the counter because he insisted he could pour it all by himself?

If you think about it, life is about solving a never-ending series of problems. And as we get older, the problems tend to become more complicated.

So, wouldn’t it make sense to equip your kids with as many tools as possible to help them overcome life’s obstacles?

Piano lessons give kids a completely different set of skills. And with a different set of skills, there’s no limit to the type of problems they will eventually be able to solve with confidence.

Boost Their Confidence by Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

And speaking of confidence … is there anything better than watching your kids proudly display a newly mastered skill? Whether it’s spelling “mom” for the first time or scribbling their first Mother’s Day card, you LOVE seeing their confidence soar!

Imagine seeing the joy in the eyes of your kids when they can play a familiar song for you. Or their excitement when they ask their music teacher to play something they’ve learned for their classmates.

By enrolling your kids in piano lessons, you’re giving them unique skills. And the opportunity to showcase those skills.

With each new piano challenge they encounter, your kids have the chance to triumph. And once they learn that they can triumph in the music room, your kids will know they can triumph in life as well.

Does it honestly get any better than that?

Inspire Them to View Failure as an Opportunity to Learn

Do you have perfectionist tendencies? If so, have you noticed these same tendencies in your little ones?

Thanks to a combination of nature and nurture, perfectionism tends to be a trait easily passed from one generation to the next.

Perfectionism has its perks, but for the most part, it’s a debilitating mindset. It’s often accompanied by procrastination and low self-esteem. And it can be incredibly difficult to correct, especially if not recognized and addressed at an early age.

I was an adult before I realized how much perfectionism held me back. If I had a time machine, I would go back and tell my younger self to chill out. That everything would be ok. And that mistakes are part of life.

But since I can’t go back in time, I’ve made a vow to help my kids with perfectionism. And I’ve found that introducing them to piano lessons has been the perfect medium to make mistakes.

I encourage my kids to have fun with music. We sing, clap, and talk about how music relates to life during lessons.

And when they become frustrated, we sit with those emotions. We explore frustration and talk about creative ways to channel it. But most of all, we talk about how learning can’t happen without failure.

Through piano lessons, my kids learn that failure means you’re trying. And that the only way you lose is by not even trying in the first place.

Ignite a Passion They Can Pursue for the Rest of Their Lives

Passion is a funny thing. Some kids are born knowing what lights them up inside and then spend their lives pursuing that thing. Other kids bounce around from one interest to the next. They never spend too much time in any one area but seem to excel in a variety of areas.

Regardless of which type of kid calls you “mom,” one thing is certain—your never-ending love and desire for them to lead fulfilling lives.

Today’s world offers a limitless array of activities in which to enroll your kids. You can get them involved in soccer, 4-H, theater, or karate at any given time.

And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with involving kids in a wide range of hobbies.

But I will ask you to consider how many of those hobbies can be pursued well into adulthood. The list narrows a bit, doesn’t it?

By enrolling your kids in piano lessons, you give them the gift of a lifetime hobby. They will have skills applicable for years and years to come. Even if they end up playing pop songs for themselves at home, I guarantee they will consider the time well spent.

Click here to read more about why people with multiple interests have limitless potential.

Ensure They Will Reach Their Full Potential by Enrolling Your Kids in Piano Lessons

Your goal as a mom is to raise creative, well-adjusted, and well-rounded kids. It’s not an easy job, but it is fulfilling. Especially when you can move forward knowing you’ve given your kids the tools they need to succeed in this crazy, messed-up world.

There’s a ton of scientific, research-based evidence out there about the benefits of piano lessons in childhood. By enrolling your kids in piano lessons, you’re helping them improve their visual and spatial skills. You’re also helping them with memory and math skills. There’s even evidence out there that playing the piano wards off dementia in later years.

But for those of us who love the instrument, learning piano in and of itself is enough.

I would have never considered myself a serious player when I was younger, but I’ve always loved sitting down and playing. And I still do. The piano has opened up a world of opportunity for me, and I’m thankful every day for what I’ve learned from the instrument.

The piano has taught me about persistence. It has taught me that learning never ends. And practice, the right kind of practice, always means progress.

It’s for these reasons, and so many more, that I make the bold statement that you will never regret enrolling your kids in piano lessons.

And if you’re ready to move forward with lessons, make sure to check out my Resource page for a listing of piano teachers currently accepting students. Many teachers now offer online lessons, a convenient option for busy moms and kids!

Don’t forget to leave a comment below with your thoughts on this post. What challenges do you face as a mom with kids in piano lessons? Did you take lessons as a child? And if so, do you still play?

Stay tuned for more upcoming posts geared towards parenting piano kids!

Make sure to check out the following posts for more piano inspiration:

1. Petrone, Paul. (2018, Dec. 31). Why creativity is the most important skill in the world. LinkedIn. Retrieved January 2, 2022, from https://www.linkedin.com/business/learning/blog/top-skills-and-courses/why-creativity-is-the-most-important-skill-in-the-world

Become a Better Pianist with These 5 Simple Tools

Become a Better Pianist with These 5 Simple Tools

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!

Click here to read about the benefits of learning piano as an adult.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

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 that has definitely helped me become a better pianist!

Take advantage of an exclusive offer from Modacity by clicking here.

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.

Record yourself!

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.

Check out the Blue Yeti USB microphone in action

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.

5 Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult

5 Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult

Have you thought about learning piano as an adult but are not sure whether it would be worth your time?

Maybe you attended lessons when you were younger but never took it seriously and have since forgotten everything.

Or maybe you stuck with lessons for several years and still remember a bit but are now confused about where to pick up again.

I have had countless conversations with adults who tell me they would love to be able to play piano but feel that it’s simply too late to learn.

Each and every time I encounter this situation, my advice is the same.

It’s NEVER too late!

In fact, there are several benefits to learning piano as an adult versus as a child. (I believe there are way more than 5 but for purposes of keeping this post at a manageable length, I had to limit myself!)

In this post, I will be sharing benefits of learning the piano as an adult and address common roadblocks keeping you stuck. Make sure you stick around until the end for the awesome bonus resources designed to jumpstart your piano journey!

And for those of you who are ready to start your piano journey, check out this post.

This post may contain affiliate links and as an affiliate of both the Amazon and Modacity program, this means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult

Music has the ability to transport us to a completely different place and time. It has the power to evoke a long forgotten memory or bring out emotions we have tried our hardest to avoid.

Try to imagine watching a movie without music. Pretty tough, isn’t it? Music is the unseen character adding life, passion, and humanity to each and every scene.

Music inspires and motivates on a deeper level than can be achieved in other ways.

And the ability to make music? To breathe life into the melody running through your mind? That is something else entirely!

1. Anxiety and Stress Reduction

I will be the first to raise my hand and admit I have anxiety.

Give me some type of vaguely hypothetical situation and I will concoct a compelling reason why you should be afraid. Very afraid.

Unfortunately for me, anxiety + creativity = excessive worry about completely ridiculous situations.

My tendency to allow anxiety to slowly creep in and eventually take over is one of the reasons I love playing piano the most.

When my brain is busy transferring notes from the page to my fingers, it doesn’t have space left to perseverate.

The integration required between the instrument, my brain, and my body is too complex to allow for any extraneous thoughts to creep in and take over.

And when I’m not fixated on anxiety-provoking thoughts, relief from the sometimes all-consuming anxiety follows.

Interestingly, research has shown that the act of making music is enough to interrupt the normal stress response which is triggered by anxiety.

Even beyond the physiological effects of the stress response is the fact that making music is simply fun!

You may also enjoy reading Elegie in Eb Minor.

2. Playing Piano Boosts Cognition

Playing the piano is a complex task which requires integration of the motor system and multiple senses.

The pianist’s main goal in balancing all of this is to convey emotion through their artistry.

I don’t say this to intimidate you in any way but rather to encourage thought about the complexity involved in translating writing on a page to an emotional idea.

And where there is complexity, growth follows.

Multiple studies have shown differences in brain structure between people who study music and those who don’t.

This has most dramatically been noted in studies of cognition in the aging population.

In short, cognitive function is better in adults who study piano in comparison to adults who do not. If you’re curious and want to learn more, check out the study results yourself here.

Memory also improves among adults who play the piano.

Although adults typically aren’t taking math and reading tests on a regular basis, studying piano has also been shown to boost scores in these areas.

It may just be the compelling reason you need to inspire your kids to start learning piano as well???

3. Playing Piano Instills Discipline

Getting better at any type of activity requires doing more of that activity. The more we do something, the better we get at it.

Learning to play the piano is no different.

It requires a certain amount of dedication.

Consistent, high-quality practice results in progression of your skills.

The good news is that learning piano as an adult often requires a degree of discipline that you already have.

Chances are good that you have learned how to excel in various areas of your life. In order to excel, you have already figured out how to put in the work to see the pay-off.

And if discipline is an area you struggle with, there’s good news for you too!

Setting a practice schedule (and sticking with it) can set the stage for discipline in other areas of your life.

Once you have figured out consistency in this area, it’s easier to apply to other areas.

If you are looking for more tips on piano practice, check out this post.

4. Improved Ability to Handle Feedback

Getting feedback from someone else can be hard!

If you struggle with emotional vulnerability, the natural response to feedback often comes across as defensiveness.

And nothing shuts down open communication quicker than being defensive!

But sometimes we need the perspectives of others to make positive changes.

We need input from employers, spouses, and friends to become better versions of ourselves.

Unfortunately, daily life often doesn’t provide a safe space to practice receiving feedback.

Unless you’re learning a new skill under the direction of someone who is more advanced.

A new skill like learning to play the piano.

Learning a new skill takes the pressure off getting feedback.

As a beginner, you’re not expected to know anything. At the same time, feedback is exactly what you need to improve.

Piano lessons are a great way to practice getting feedback in a low-pressure situation. You can then apply this skill to other areas of your life and watch your ability to communicate with others improve as well!

5. Playing Piano Increases Confidence

Although it may seem contradictory, learning a new skill can actually increase your overall confidence.

Learning something new encourages a sense of curiousity. When we are curious, we are far less likely to be overly self-critical.

Our energy is instead focused on learning and growing. As we begin to see improvements, we become more and more confident.

The confidence from one specific area of our lives can spill into all other areas.

Especially if this new skill involves an element of performance.

And whether you are by yourself practicing, playing through a piece for your teacher, or giving a recital, music is performance.

Confidence is an essential aspect of musical performance and is incredibly useful in daily life.

Roadblocks Keeping You Stuck

Now that we’ve covered the top benefits of learning piano as an adult, let’s talk barriers.

Despite the benefits, I know there are a few things still holding you back from getting started. Let’s break them down, one-by-one.

Piano Lessons are for Kids

Although it is true that many people begin lessons as kids, learning as an adult actually has several advantages.

The first is that as an adult, you are choosing to learn piano. No one is setting a practice timer for you. You’re not getting grounded for skipping your lesson.

You call the shots.

It’s up to you to find a teacher you mesh well with. You also get to decide the instrument if you don’t already have one. It’s also entirely up to you whether you take in-person or online lessons.

Your success with the instrument rests entirely in your hands.

And speaking of hands … the second advantage to learning as an adult is that your hand-eye coordination and muscles are fully developed.

Learning certain pieces and specific techniques is now possible. Although kids may progress rapidly in their study of the instrument, they can be held back on further progress due to development.

The third advantage involves attention span and critical thinking skills. Both are much more advantageous to effective learning in an adult versus in kids.

Many kids can only sit and concentrate for ten minutes at a time. Their practice is therefore somewhat limited.

Adults on the other hand can focus for much longer stretches of time.

They also have a greater capacity to integrate music theory and analysis to more effectively learn music. This is one aspect of playing where I continue to feel somewhat disadvantaged.

Although I did have elements of music theory in my lessons from a very young age, I didn’t fully appreciate it until I was older. By that time, I feel that I had already developed my own specific way for learning pieces without the theory component.

I continue to accommodate for this deficit today and am making progress but feel that learning piano as an adult is a major asset in this area!

Time (Or Lack Thereof)

I get it. Your day is busy. Maybe even crazy. I’m sure there are days which pass so quickly you are left wondering where the time went when your head hits the pillow at night.

I have those days too.

But do you really want to spend your days wondering where the time went?

Or would you rather use the time you have been given to pursue your biggest goals and dreams?

Learning piano as an adult may seem like it will take an enormous amount of time and energy.

Depending upon your goals, it will.

Guess what though?

You don’t have to expend all that energy in one day. Practice is actually more beneficial if broken into small, very intentional, chunks of time.

There are days when I only have 10 minutes to devote to practice.

But I make the most of it and look forward to the days when I’m able to practice more.

Every minute adds up to better and better playing.

The time will pass anyway. You might as well make the most out of it!

You may also enjoy reading this post about how to find more time in your day.

Finding a Teacher

Thanks to technology, the days of traveling to your piano teacher’s house for lessons are gone.

Maybe.

There are still plenty of teachers who continue to offer lessons this way.

And learning this way continues to be the preferred method for many people.

But what are your options if you don’t have a teacher nearby? Or if you don’t have time to drive to lessons?

You could choose to attend lessons online or subscribe to a membership website dedicated to helping people learn to play piano.

The Membership Website Dilemma

I’m not sure whether you’ve looked into membership websites or not but there are a million out there. Whether you’ve been playing 3 months, 30 years or whether you have any actual knowledge of how to teach someone else to play, you can create your own course. The bottom line is that whether someone has any credibility or not, they can create a website and pass themselves off as an “expert.”

I, for one, do not want to pay for some random course created by someone without any actual authority in the piano world.

This is one of the many reasons why I carefully vetted multiple courses prior to finally making the decision to join this one. I was looking for credibility and authority. And I found both and so much more in the ProPractice course created by Dr. Josh Wright.

Dr. Wright is a critically acclaimed pianist and gifted instructor. Check out his performance of the 3rd Rachmaninoff Concerto here. And if you’re looking for another incredible performance, here is the Chopin Ballade No. 1 in G minor. Each performance is absolutely inspiring!

Created and taught by Dr. Josh Wright himself, this course is perfect whether you are a complete beginner or have played for years. It also comes with access to an incredibly supportive Facebook group of fellow pianists.

As a result of joining the course, my technique and artistry has dramatically improved. I’ve learned so much about interpretation and even how to manage the sometimes quite limited practice time I have. I have seen such positive changes in my playing that I became passionate about sharing this course with others looking to improve their own playing.

This course has absolutely made me a better pianist and is well worth the investment!

Click here to check out all this course has to offer!

Finding an Instrument

Not having an instrument is an obvious barrier to learning piano as an adult.

In order to make progress, you will need consistent practice. Practice will require an instrument.

Luckily, you also have several options in this area.

Many people prefer an acoustic piano. Acoustic pianos come in several different sizes and in quite variable price ranges.

You can find a spinet (a smaller acoustic piano) for free on Craigslist. There are also many perfectly acceptable instruments out there for less than $1,000. Keep in mind that in many instances, you get what you pay for.

In the beginning of your studies, you can make progress with a lower quality instrument.

Investing less up front can also take the pressure off later if you decide that piano isn’t for you.

I definitely recommend working with a piano tuner to find an instrument within your budget. They will be able to give you an accurate estimate of the instrument you are considering. Piano tuners can also tell you whether any major work on the instrument is required.

An electronic keyboard is another option if space is limited. A great advantage of these is the option to plug in headphones. You can then practice any time of the day or night.

Keyboards also offer many different setting and recording options. They also come in a wide range of features and prices.

Bonus Resource Section

Hopefully by now you’ve been inspired to either start or continue your own piano journey. Here are a few of my favorite resources to further your journey!

Practice Secrets

Let’s face it. Practicing is the only way to improve but sometimes it can feel a bit monotonous. Ignite your passion for practice with this book!

Full of both practical and useful advice, this book is guaranteed to freshen up any stale practice regimen. I truly cannot say enough good things about this book so I highly encourage you to check it out for yourself!

And if you’re looking for the ultimate practice app, look no further than Modacity! It’s helped me approach practice from a completely different perspective which has resulted in a dramatic improvement in my piano skills. You can read more about my experience with the app here and you can even access an exclusive offer for Only Getting Better here.

Recording Success

Even during my college years, my piano teacher encouraged me to record regularly. In those days, I wish I would have had something as easy and effective as this microphone!

A quality microphone is one of the best ways to learn to listen and make improvements when working independently, either between lessons or with a membership website. And you won’t find a better quality microphone or one that’s easier to use in this price point. This microphone has been one of the biggest keys to my own piano success.

The Best Piano Membership Site

If you’re looking for a high value course led by an expert in the field, Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course is the one to check into. He also offers courses based on individual pieces if there’s a specific one you’re interested in learning. Check out what he has to offer because it’s comparable to nothing else out there!

Finding a Piano Teacher

If you’re ready to get started but are looking for type of 1:1 guidance only a piano teacher can offer, make sure to check out this list of online teachers accepting new students. Each of the teachers listed has a truly unique background and approach to teaching so stop waiting and get started now!

Let’s Get Started!

And there you have it! Five benefits to learning the piano as an adult and the common roadblocks holding you back. For even more information on getting started, check out this post on how to learn piano as an adult.

I truly hope this post inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and go for it! You never know where this one decision will take you. So get out there and get started!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and whether it inspired you to take the first step!

Music Memorization For Pianists

Music Memorization For Pianists

Can we talk shocking revelations for a minute? Despite studying piano from the age of 7, I had never memorized a single piece of music until college. Not “Hot Cross Buns” or “Jolly Old St. Nick.” Not even Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique which I played at state solo and ensemble when I was in high school. No music memorization whatsoever for this gal.

In no way do I blame my beginning piano teacher for missing anything in my early musical education. I have always been very headstrong and I’m sure that I met attempts at encouraging music memorization with resistance. And I honestly did not take lessons seriously when I was younger. I loved to play and learn new music on the instrument! I never gave much thought to truly developing my skills or the incredible benefits that memorization brings to overall pianism. In fact, I had never considered a career in music until I entered college.

Check out this post to learn more about my musical journey.

This post may contain affiliate links, and as a member of the Amazon affiliates program, this means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see our full disclosure for further information.

Sight Reading and Music Memorization

I am also a strong sight reader which often translates to less reliance on memorization. I could simply play the notes written on the page so there was no need to memorize. At the time, I saw no reason to go further in-depth into music memorization than that.

Flash forward to college and suddenly I was expected to memorize my pieces for periodic performances and evaluations every semester. When first confronted with this information, I had absolutely no idea where to even begin this seemingly monumental task. At one point, I vividly remember my professor handing me a sheet of paper with tips for memorization. Although some of the tips made sense, I still found the information disjointed and unclear.

Even after reviewing any information I could find on music memorization, I still had a ton of questions. “But how do I go about transferring the written notes on the page to technically accurate and emotionally compelling performances?” It all seemed so vague. I honestly felt that I would never excel at memorization because in all my 18 years, I had never before done it. Surely it was too late to learn now.

Challenges with Music Memorization

Somehow I pulled myself through my degree, painfully memorizing as required. Despite fulfilling the requirements of the degree, I never fully grasped the bigger picture of memorization. Memorization enables learning a piece to the point where it truly becomes a part of you. In those days, I relied heavily on muscle memory. As discussed below, this is a technique which often fails when in the midst of a high pressure performance situation. At the time, I had no understanding of the different types of memorization. I also had no understanding of how different types of memorization work together to truly solidify memory and strengthen performance. Even though I eventually succeeded at memorization, it remained a task which I despised and I never felt as if I truly mastered it.

After my college graduation, I continued to freelance as a church organist. I also accompanied for everything from high school choirs to singers and instrumentalists competing in solo & ensemble. Accompanying doesn’t require music memorization and as my life became busier, I put it on the back burner.

Benefits of Music Memorization

About a year ago, I decided to once again expand my solo pianistic skills. I absolutely love pieces from the Romantic period, especially composers such as Frederic Chopin and Sergei Rachmaninoff! I therefore focused on these pieces. After all, what’s the point of learning a piece if you’re not absolutely in love with it? Check out this post for a piece that steals my heart every time! As beautiful as I find these pieces, they are incredibly difficult. In most cases, memorization is required to deliver a performance worthy of their distinction.

Once again faced with the prospect of music memorization, I began searching for any information I could find on memorization. My ultimate goal was to facilitate more solid music memorization and therefore better performance.

First things first … let’s talk about different types of memory.

If you are also looking to get back into playing after a break, check out this post for advice on how to do it!

Muscle Memory

Repetition leads to muscle memory. Creating muscle memory requires a great deal of time and many repetitions. Our brains are constantly looking for ways to automate activities in order to use as little energy as possible. Muscle memory is a great example of automation in action and was the type I solely relied upon in college. Unfortunately, this also resulted in my very tenuous grasp on performance.

Automation does allow for increased attention to the other aspects of creating music however there are also drawbacks. This is especially true if this is your sole form of memorization. The biggest is that if anything impedes your muscle memory during a performance, you’re stuck. If you have no other forms of memory, picking up again with only muscle memory is incredibly difficult. It can be nearly impossible to resume where the slip occurred and continue on as if nothing happened. Unfortunately this is also the least secure type of memorization. It is the first type of memorization to vanish under pressure.

Visual Memory

Looking at information creates visual memories. It is this type which allows you to hear a word and form a picture in your mind.

Visual memory is similar to muscle memory in that it is subject to high rates of recall error. This type of memory is also especially prone to errors in the face of contradiction. Imagine you’re playing through a section of a memorized piece. Suddenly, you question whether the melody travels up to the C or C#. Doubt begins to creep in. You then make a note error two entire measures prior to the note in question. Unless you have a photographic memory, it is nearly impossible to use strictly this type of memorization. Despite the drawbacks, visual memory can be a useful type of music memorization in combination with the other types.

Auditory Memory

Auditory memory is similar to the other three types in that it relates to one of our senses. In this case, it is the sense of hearing rather than those of touch or vision.

This type of memory allows you to recall the piece even when you are not actually playing it. Auditory memory also enables you to anticipate your sound prior to even playing a note. Developing this type of memory is an incredibly useful skill beyond its function in memorization. It does, however, require time and a great deal of practice. Having a solid auditory memory of a piece in conjunction with the kinesthetic and visual aspects solidifies your memory. It is also extremely helpful when engaging the next type of memory, analysis.

Analysis

Although music theory is not always the most engaging subject, it provides an excellent foundation for creating memory through analysis. Knowledge of key signatures, harmonic structures, and cadences can all be helpful beyond passing a music theory test. It can help with memory of a piece through enabling you to improvise a section if your memory does falter.

The ability to find your way through a memory slip contributes in a huge way to confidence on stage. Take just a minute to think about the different types of memory we have discussed. Consider approaching a performance guided only by your finger memory of thousands of repetitions. But suddenly, a baby in the audience starts crying. How would you know where to start up again once distraction strikes? The same can be said of memorizing music strictly through vision. With analysis to back you up, you have the confidence of knowing you could improvise through any potential slip-ups!

Let’s Get Started!

Combining various aspects of each of the four types of memorization creates solid memories of the piece. It also facilitates better performances. Below, I outline the process I use to create solid memorization of a piece. If you’re new to music memorization, start with an easy piece below your current playing level. Memorization can be challenging! Take this opportunity to become proficient in memorization by downgrading the difficulty of the piece.

Your first task is to analyze the piece starting with form. Chunk the piece into sections and determine whether any of the sections are repeats. Do key signatures or time signatures vary through the sections? What about tempo? Does the piece remain in the same tempo throughout or does it have contrasting tempos? How should dynamics you shape dynamics? Spend some time analyzing the harmonic structure as this will make memorization easier.

Engage your auditory memory by listening to the piece several times and write down the emotions it evokes. Dig into the history of the piece to determine the deeper meaning behind its composition. Was it composed for someone in particular? Or perhaps to commemorate an occasion? Are there political undercurrents? What was happening in the composer’s life at the time? Consider the historical context in which the piece was composed. All these details can work together to enhance your understanding of the piece. This information later transforms your performance from mediocre to memorable.

Click here for tips on how to improve your piano playing.

Break it Down to Small Sections

Once you’ve analyzed the various aspects of the piece, it’s time to choose where to focus your memorization efforts first. I typically pick out the most challenging part of the piece to focus on first. You may decide to start at the beginning or even the end. The key to memorization is only attempting memorization of small pieces of information at a time. When first starting out and depending upon the difficulty of the piece, this may only be a note or two. Break the entire piece into smaller chunks of between 2-8 measures and work to memorize each individually. Memorization solidifies over a period of time. Attempting to shove too much in your brain in a short time period only results in a jumbled mess.

I simply cannot over-emphasize the importance of attempting to memorize only small sections per day. The other alternative is to work in short time increments repeatedly throughout the day. The most important concept is to allow your brain to rest in between sessions. If you don’t, your hard work will be for nothing. Your brain will simply jam the information into a jumbled mess instead of creating usable memory.

The Temptation to Read vs. Memorize

If you are the pianist who sight reads well, this is where the challenge really begins. I struggle so much with memorization because my tendency is always to read the notes written on the page. Producing the notes on the piano without written notes in front of you requires different thinking. You therefore have to employ different tactics to bring forth a completely new type of thought process.

When I first began memorizing again, I had to put the music I was memorizing away from the piano. It’s otherwise too tempting for me not to look at! This tactic forced me to visually remember the note pattern to play it. It otherwise forces me to get up and look at it. And let’s face it … we all have a slightly lazy side which prefers to continue sitting whenever possible! While looking at the notes you are memorizing, try to hear in your mind how this will sound. When you go back to the instrument, focus in on how the part sounds. Continue to visualize the notes while you play so you can further solidify your memorization.

Life Hacks Useful for Music Memorization

Track your memorization progress by putting check marks behind each measure as your memorize. When you have tough practice sessions, look back at all the progress you have made. This will motivate you to continue making progress!

Never under-estimate the importance of sleep on your brain’s ability to assimilate this information into your working memory. Memorization is an incredibly active process which requires your full attention. It will therefore be infinitely more difficult if you are not well rested.

In line with this is choosing a time of day when you are most alert. As a working mom of three, I can’t always practice during my ideal times. If you also find yourself in this boat, be patient. Lower your expectations about how long this process will take you. You’re juggling so much right now! Does it really matter whether it takes one month or five to memorize that piece you love so much? The only thing that really matters is that you keep making progess in your goals.

And speaking of making progress … I’m always looking for other great resources on the topic of musicianship to propel me forward. I stumbled across this book a few years ago and have taken an incredible amount of knowledge away from it! From practice tips to performance anxiety to musician wellness, there’s a wealth of information to be gained in it!

Memorization is a skill much like learning to play an instrument. The more you do it, the better you become at it. When you do it correctly, the reward is elevation to a level of musicianship not otherwise attainable. It also comes with a sense of pride in that you are accomplishing something which is meaningful and fulfilling.

Now get out there and start memorizing something! Drop a comment below on what you’re working on and whether you have also struggled with memorization. I’d also love to hear whether you have your own tips and tricks on memorizing!