Easy Brain Hacks to Upgrade Your Piano Playing

Easy Brain Hacks to Upgrade Your Piano Playing

Do you ever feel stuck in your piano playing? You feel as if you put in the practice time but just aren’t making the progress you’d like.

Or maybe you do feel like you’re making huge strides in your playing but want to take things to the next level.

As a lifelong pianist, I’m always looking for that slight edge to take my skills to the next level. And I’m ecstatic to present you with a few easy brain hacks to upgrade your piano playing!

This post may contain affiliate links, and as affiliates of SkillShare and Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information. All images on this page courtesy of Canva.

Background on Brain Hacks to Upgrade Your Piano Playing

I’ve written a bit about my academic background in other posts but will mention it again for readers new to the blog. My first degree was in music, but I have since obtained a doctorate in nursing practice.

This means that I LOVE to research and pass along credible information to my readers, especially as it pertains to the science of playing the piano. In other words, I am constantly looking for the crossroads between art and science.

And because there’s an absurd amount of inaccurate information out there, my goal is always to cut through the crap to present you with only the truly useful stuff.

The Book

With all that being said, I recently stumbled across a fantastic book written by a development molecular biologist named John Medina. His mission in writing the book is to bring forth simplified research findings of how the brain works to the general public.

The book is called Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School. And although the book is not written specifically for pianists, I feel it is both relevant and crucial information to anyone interested in upgrading their piano skills.

The Research

For me, one of the very first things that struck a chord about the book is Medina’s equal attention to quality. All research he presents must first be published in a peer-reviewed journal. This means that it must pass an extremely rigorous process to make sure the information is scientifically accurate.

Medina then requires the research to be repeated, meaning it wasn’t simply some type of fluke. He then takes it further by boiling the research down to information that anyone can understand.

As someone who has read countless peer-reviewed articles, believe me when I say that researchers don’t write for clarity! Deciphering this type of writing is an art in itself. And so, I appreciate Medina’s mission to present high-level research to anyone in plain English with a side of humor.

The Brain

This sounds crazy, but despite massive research advances over the past century or so, we still understand little about the brain’s inner workings.

To put it into perspective, Medina makes this comment, “In truth, if we ever fully understood how the human brain knew how to pick up a glass of water, it would represent a major achievement.”

Take a minute to process that statement. We still don’t even understand the fundamental task of how the brain takes us from thirst to drinking. Mind-blowing, isn’t it?

And if we don’t understand something as simple as picking up a glass, we are lightyears from a solid understanding of something as complex as playing the piano.

Although I don’t promise a complete understanding of the complex interplay between cognition, memory, muscle, and emotion that occurs when playing piano, my goal is to present a few of my aha moments from the book.

And as the title suggests, my goal is to present brain hacks to upgrade your piano playing. But keep in mind that Medina’s brain rules apply to life in general.

So take this gift of knowledge and apply it liberally, both at and away from the keyboard. And if you’re thirsting for more, make sure you pick up the book for yourself. I promise that it’s both exciting and informative, and you will come away with tips to improve your life and relationships.

And so, without further ado, let’s dig into brain hacks to upgrade your piano playing!

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Brain Hacks to Improve Your Piano Playing: Exercise is Key

I promise to come back around to the piano in a minute but first, let me take you on a detour with my alter ego in the healthcare field. My career in healthcare started in the nursing home. And to this day, my practice continues to be based in this setting.

What this means for you is that I have extensive experience working with a population heavily impacted by cognitive decline. So much so that up until a few years ago, I never realized the significant bias I had developed by my work in the nursing home.

You may be asking yourself what cognitive decline has to do with playing the piano. My response to you would be that it has everything to do with it. Playing the piano begins and ends with cognition.

And by understanding the factors that impact healthy cognition, you can understand how to become a better pianist.

My Anecdotal Evidence

Until a few years ago, my only frame of reference for people older than 80 had been exceptionally frail people who seemed to show a steady pattern of physical and mental decline.

And so, imagine my surprise when I began my outpatient clinical rotation and was suddenly introduced to a whole new world of older patients. These were patients well into their 80s and 90s who continued to lead full and vibrant lives. They were driving, working, and even functioning as (gasp!) organists for large congregations.

I distinctly remember almost falling off my chair when one particularly delightful 90 something-year-old told me that he continued to mow his own 1+ acre lawn. With a push mower.

Mind. Blown.

This was the moment when my curiosity around the distinctly different outcomes in aging was first sparked. It left me questioning whether there are distinct actions people can either take or avoid to preserve cognition over time.

And although countless factors ultimately contribute to cognitive function over time, something deep inside whispered that this 90-something push mowing his lawn was on to something.

The Research

It turns out that my hunch was correct. According to Medina, “A lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary.”

And he goes on to describe research-proven time and again that points to an improvement in areas including long-term memory, attention, problem-solving, and even fluid intelligence in people who consistently exercise.

If you’re thinking those skills are suspiciously similar to those needed for playing piano, then you too are on to something!

You may be asking yourself what this means if you haven’t exercised regularly up to this point in your life. Hang on because I’ve got some great news for you!

As a whole, research supports the idea that even if you haven’t been a regular exerciser in your life, it’s never too late to start. And bumps in cognition come with even relatively mild exercise regimens.

Exercise has proven to preserve cognition over time, and there is also research to support its effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression.

I’m not sure about you, but this might be one of my favorite brain hacks to improve your piano playing!

Brain Hacks to Improve Your Piano Playing: Make it Exciting!

Would it surprise you to learn that our brain ignores boring things? And yet, how much attention do we give to making our learning experiences, including piano practice, interesting?

Zero.

Up until recently, I’ve had a very dull approach to practice. My practice sessions start with a scale warm-up or two, move on to some technical practice, and finish with one or two repertoire pieces.

Repetition has historically been at the core of what I do in the practice room. And I suspect many (if not most!) pianists have been conditioned to take the same humdrum approach to their practice.

It does leave you wondering whether all this boring practice does anything to advance your skills.

The Research

The short answer is no. According to Medina, “The more attention the brain pays to a given stimulus, the more elaborately the information will be encoded – and retained.” In other words, “Better attention always equals better learning.”

Not only does improved attention translate to better retention, but our attention spans have a very short expiration date. As a general rule of thumb, sustained attention is only maintained for about 10 minutes before our mind starts wandering.

Given that my practice sessions typically last around 30 minutes, how much am I actually retaining? Most importantly, how can I improve retention to make the most of my practice time?

Improve Retention With Short Practice Segments

My first thought comes straight from Medina’s lecture model as described in the book. Given our short attention span, chunk material into 10-minute sections.

Spend the first minute on a broad concept and the next nine looping in details related to the larger one. Once the 10 minutes are up, start with another broad concept.

For example, spend 10 minutes on a very specific task, such as improving rhythm in section A rather than attempting to improve all aspects of an entire piece over that same time frame. And once the 10 minutes are up, move on to the next clear-cut practice task.

Incorporate Emotion Into Practice

Any time you can incorporate emotion into learning, retention will be enhanced. To demonstrate this phenomenon, think back to a song that holds special meaning for you.

I’m willing to bet that every time you hear that song, you’re flooded with a very specific emotion. Whether it’s your wedding song or a break-up anthem, you probably go right back to a distinct time in your life whenever you hear it.

My suggestion for you is to attach emotion to your playing. Hone in on a unique feeling with every section. And get creative with this. Don’t limit yourself to happy, sad, or mad.

Try incorporating euphoria, despair, and angst into your playing. Maybe spend time differentiating between just how different you can make “boredom” and “apathy” sound.

Find the Meaning

Our brains love patterns. And any time you can make a connection between new and previously learned information, retention becomes both more accessible and potent.

My previous post lists a couple of resources for creating meaning in playing the piano. One involves creating a visual map of a piece, and the other consists of brushing up on music theory. Both are fantastic ways to transform tiny figures on a page into a compelling musical performance.

Check out the post here.

Other Thoughts on Brain Hacks to Improve Your Piano Playing

It’s difficult to articulate all the valuable information contained within this one book. But if there’s one thing to take away, it would be that our brains are designed to solve problems by exploring.

In the (admittedly somewhat morbid) words of my favorite Downton character, Violet Crawley, “All life is a series of problems which we must try and solve, first one and then the next and then the next until at last, we die.”

Our brains have been helping us navigate complex problems for centuries. We learn by doing. And by exploring.

So I would encourage you to keep trying. Keep searching for ways to improve. Look for unconventional ways to improve your piano practice. Experiment. Play what you love. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to be creative.

If you’re a classical pianist, try jazz. Or improvisation. You could even try your hand at composition.

And get some sleep! Medina has an entire chapter devoted to the massive impact sleep has on learning.

Most importantly, you can conveniently get your copy of Brain Rules by clicking the picture below.

It’s Your Turn

I hope you have found a few brain hacks to upgrade your piano playing after reading this post! If you’re looking for more inspiration and piano playing resources, make sure to check out my previous posts:

And that’s it for this week. As always, I wish you all the best in the practice room and beyond!

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SkillShare for Pianists: 2 Classes Guaranteed to Advance Your Skills

SkillShare for Pianists: 2 Classes Guaranteed to Advance Your Skills

Do you long to advance your knowledge of music theory without breaking the bank? Maybe you’d love to get better at jazz, improv, or compose your own piece someday.

Or perhaps you’ve struggled with memorization. You’ve tried over and over again, but somehow you can never quite seem to master a piece entirely from memory.

Or, if you’re like me, you’ve periodically struggled with both throughout your musical journey.

Today I’m ecstatic to introduce you to an online learning platform that has classes guaranteed to advance your piano skills!

The platform is called SkillShare, and it offers diverse classes ranging from cooking to photography to productivity. I recently learned of the platform in a podcast, and the concept immediately struck a chord.

Although I had heard that there are a huge variety of niches on the platform, I was especially eager to explore SkillShare for pianists!

And after checking it out, I was so impressed with the quality of the instruction and the range of videos that I immediately applied to become an affiliate.

I knew that I had to share this gift with others interested in self-improvement, whether specifically at the keyboard or in life. Enjoy the post but don’t stop there. I invite you to take the next step toward reaching your goals by clicking the link below.

Now let’s get to SkillShare for pianists!

This post may contain affiliate links, and as affiliates of SkillShare and Amazon, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

SkillShare for Pianists: The Secrets of How to Memorize Music

Does watching videos of people playing piano completely from memory make you feel jealous? Have you always wanted to play the piano from memory but can never quite pull it off?

If you’ve always fantasized about learning how to memorize but continue to struggle, then this class is for you!

Taught by Jeeyoon Kim, The Secrets of How to Memorize Music goes behind the scenes of memorization. Kim, a classical pianist and teacher, covers various topics designed to help you master memorization. She gives insight into the tips and tricks that will take you from beginner to confident memorizer throughout the class.

This course is of particular interest to me because I have a love/hate relationship with memorizing music. Throughout my college years, I struggled with memorization. And as a piano major, I was expected to perform without music in front of me. Shaky memorization led to even more unstable performances and, ultimately, significant anxiety at the mere thought of performing.

Flash forward to my post-college years when I desperately wanted to retain my identity as a pianist. I re-dedicated myself to the art of piano playing. But along with a commitment to the craft came memorization.

I believe that there are aspects of musicianship that no one can ever fully master in a lifetime. And some skills are always more accessible than others. But for me, memorizing has become more attainable thanks to this class. Read on for the specific transformations I believe are possible for you, too, thanks to this class.

Develop Memorization as a Skill

Watching a truly great pianist perform from memory feels magical. Their command, stage presence, and skill feel amplified by their ability to play challenging repertoire entirely from memory. It can leave you wondering whether you have the talent to memorize music.

You can stop all that wondering and second-guessing because I’m here to tell you that you absolutely CAN memorize music!

The truth is that memorization is a skill. Similar to learning scales, dynamics, or key signatures, it’s a skill that requires practice. And as such, there are ways to make memorization easier.

Throughout the class, Kim gives you the memory hacks no one else talks about. Her inspirational message is that regardless of your skill level, you can successfully memorize music. It all starts with a solid understanding of how memory works and a great example of SkillShare for pianists!

Gain a Deeper Understanding of Memory

Your journey into memorization starts with the different types of memory, and Kim specifically mentions sensory, short, and long-term memory.ng-term memory. The memorization process always begins with short-term memory, and short-term is the most fleeting type of memory and therefore not particularly reliable for any length of time.

Your goal is to transition memories from short to long-term storage where they are more secure. This is the type of memory from which musicians playing from memory are drawing from.

And once a piece is thoroughly explored and secure in your long-term “bank,” you can play from a place of freedom.

While we’re on the topic of memory, I will mention a fantastic book written by Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist. The book is called Brain Rules, and it outlines 12 foundational principles for how our brains work.

In his chapter on memory, Medina echoes tenets outlined by Kim in her class. More specifically, each touts the importance of short practice sessions and constantly working on memory retrieval.

In other words, it’s not enough to simply remember. You must also practice bringing forth that memory. I won’t give away Kim’s secrets but believe me when I say that Kim does an incredible job of illuminating how to work with, instead of against, your brain. SkillShare for pianists doesn’t get much better than this!

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Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Music

I’m not sure about you, but my previous efforts at memorization focused solely on playing something over and over and over again. Although I’m not going to argue that repetition is important, there are ways to make it enjoyable and effective.

And one of the best ways to do this is through pattern recognition. Your brain loves patterns!

Make it Meaningful

And according to Medina, the more meaningful you can make the information, the easier it is to remember. This recommendation is also echoed by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool in their book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. Ericsson spent his entire career studying people at the top of their fields, and his most exciting work involved studying people who could hear a long string of unrelated numbers and repeat them back.

Ericsson found that people who are the best at reciting back unbelievably long number chains do so by attaching some type of extra meaning to those numbers. In other words, they did not simply memorize by rote. They came up with an alternate way to remember sections and then wove them back together again.

Make it Creative

And in her class on memorization, Kim recommends attaching meaning by creating a visual map. She guides you through looking at a piece and creating a short-hand visual representation of the piece. By engaging your creativity around the piece in this way, your memory becomes robust and resilient. It allows you to recall specifics that may otherwise fall by the wayside when trying to memorize solely from rote.

Even beyond learning the mechanics of memorization, Kim proves to be an encouraging and engaging teacher. She continually emphasizes the point that memorization is difficult for everyone. But at the end of the day, memorization is crucial to a higher level of creativity and freedom than could ever be achieved otherwise.

And speaking of higher levels of creativity and freedom, let’s move on to music theory!

SkillShare for Pianists: Music Theory Comprehensive

Ok, ok. Music theory may not immediately come to mind when I say “creativity” and “freedom,” but stick with me for a minute.

Music, like most things in life, comes with its own set of rules. Rules to organize melody, harmony, and rhythm. These rules provide guidelines for how music works, and they give you a deeper understanding of how music is constructed.

And with understanding comes meaning. The type of meaning that makes memorization easier because there are fewer options from which to choose once you understand the rules. Fewer options mean stronger memory retention and recall. And stronger memory recall means creativity and freedom.

See how it all works together?

Whether your music theory knowledge comes from your hometown piano teacher, college courses years ago, or somewhere in between, be assured that you can conjure it forth once again.

Even if you’ve never gone in-depth with theory before, it’s never too late to start. And Jason Allen’s course is hands down the one with which to begin! It’s yet another outstanding SkillShare for pianists option.

The Class

Although there are many ways to learn music theory, learning from a reputable instructor is arguably the best. And Allen has the reputation to back up his instruction.

With a Ph.D. in music composition, Allen has not only composed for the Minnesota Orchestra but was a semi-finalist for the 2014 Grammy Foundation’s Music Editor of the Year. He’s been teaching music theory at the college level for years and truly knows his stuff.

The course itself is, therefore, his entire music theory curriculum presented in 17 separate parts. The first part covers the absolute basics of reading music, such as note names, clefs, and dynamics. Later classes cover harmonization, composition, and every music student’s favorite topic … modulation. It’s difficult to come up with a topic a pianist would need to know that’s not covered somewhere in this course.

When Allen says comprehensive, he truly means it!

Benefits of Learning Music Theory

I’m going to throw a bit of honesty your way right now. Despite studying music theory in college for 2 years, I’m embarrassed to admit that relatively little has stuck with me.

And although it’s true that as a nurse practitioner, I don’t often have to harmonize melodies or compose SATB pieces, I love music and want to expand my horizons. For quite some time now, I’ve had this nagging feeling that memorization would be simpler if I had a more solid grasp on the subject.

After reading Brain Rules and completing Kim’s class, my suspicions are confirmed. A better understanding of music theory will help me form more secure patterns and enhance my recall, thus streamlining memorization.

And according to Ian over at Thrive Piano, learning theory strengthens sight reading skills, accuracy, and improvisation. I don’t think anyone can argue with those benefits!

Why You Need This Class

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I strongly believe in mastering music theory as a way to boost your piano skills. And this class is the perfect answer to your question of how to learn music theory because it’s divided into sections. You have the freedom to pick and choose which sections would most benefit you and skip the rest.

Allen has even created a variety of projects throughout the course to strengthen your theory skills.

And his interactive style makes the class engaging, so you’ll never worry about your mind wandering off halfway through a video. Videos are typically concise, so you don’t even need a huge daily commitment to start making progress.

And lastly, I’m a huge believer in self-directed courses. Especially when they’re taught by experts in the field and accessible at a reasonable price. It’s truly a win-win!

Why You Need SkillShare for Pianists

Now it’s your turn to dish. What skill have you been longing to improve? Maybe you’d love to learn jazz piano. Or perhaps you’ve been looking for advice on upping your freelance game. Maybe you’re struggling with productivity and time management.

Regardless of what’s lacking in your life at this moment, SkillShare has a potential solution for you!

SkillShare has an incredible range of courses taught by highly qualified instructors, and more are added every day. The site offers the opportunity to advance your knowledge in everything from cooking to photography to drawing. Even if you’ve completely mastered music memorization and theory (no small feat!), there’s something for you.

Whether you’re looking for SkillShare for pianists or something a little different, give it a try! Click the link below to get started.

And if you were intrigued by the books above, check them out on Amazon:

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If you’re looking for more piano inspiration and resources, check out any of the following posts:

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post or your piano journey in general. Have you been struggling with something that you just can’t seem to overcome? And what have been your recent triumphs? Drop a comment below with your thoughts!

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An Authentic Review of the Modacity App

An Authentic Review of the Modacity App

Are you a musician who loves to play but struggles with practicing? Maybe you understand the basic concepts of effective practice but staying organized is challenging. It’s hard to focus on the music itself between the tuner, metronome, and your practice journal.

Or perhaps you love practicing but always seem to lose track of time or can’t stay focused. In other words, it’s challenging to identify your practice goals.

Maybe the entire concept of practice mystifies you a bit. I will be the first to raise my hand to that one!

Although I began playing piano at the age of 7 and continued through college, I struggled with practice. My sessions were inconsistent and sporadic. Despite having weekly lessons, I was always unsure how to effectively apply information from my lessons to the practice room.

Unfortunately, I was also too embarrassed to ask tough questions. The type of questions that would have transformed my concept of practice and elevated my playing.

Having a poor grasp on practice ultimately contributed to performance anxiety, frustration, and low self-confidence.

After college, I started getting serious about practice. I began searching for ways to practice more consistently and effectively. And my search eventually led to the Modacity app.

Read on for both my experience with and my review of the Modacity app.

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

What is Modacity?

Modacity is an app designed to promote thoughtful practice over meaningless repetition.

You start by entering the names of pieces you’re working on into the app. The pieces can then be arranged into playlists. I’ve seen people organize playlists by upcoming audition, recital, or even according to the day of the week.

The act of creating a playlist fosters intention by allowing you to plan out your practice session in advance. You can set specific goals for each piece. And if you’re unsure of how to improve a piece, it gives you a wide range of suggestions to try.

The app also enables you to set a timer for each piece, so you know exactly when to move on.

Modacity allows you to save practice notes with each piece. It also provides convenient access to a metronome and tuner. The app then saves the settings under each piece so you can always pick up exactly where you left off.

The app also comes fully equipped with a recording feature that permanently saves recordings to the app.

One of my favorite features of the app is the practice counter. It adds up the number of consecutive practice days and total minutes spent practicing. It’s a highly motivating feature for those out there who find motivation in statistics.

Although there are ways to piece together the various elements of effective practice, there are no other apps out there quite like this one!

And to prove the point, let’s dive into principles of genuinely effective practice.

What are the principles of effective practice?

I’m fascinated with the topic of effective practice! And I’m passionate about unlocking the secrets of the most effective and efficient practice. How do musicians (or anyone else) improve at their craft and rise above the rest?

This question led me to a book called Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise written by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. Ericsson spent his life pursuing that very question and documented his findings in the book.

And after researching the world’s best athletes, musicians, and memorizers, he had several striking revelations. One is the importance of deliberate practice.

In other words, simple repetition is not enough. When trying to improve at anything, you must have a deliberate plan for improvement. And ideally, the plan includes immediate feedback of attempts. At the bare minimum, deliberate practice consists of a shot at something, analysis of whether you hit the mark, and a plan to modify as needed.

The second striking revelation resulting from Ericsson’s research is that practice is anything but fun most of the time. Truly effective, meaningful practice is tedious and not inherently motivating.

And thirdly, excellence requires you to leave your comfort zone. You can’t expect to get different results from doing the same things you’ve always done.

How does Modacity support effective practice?

Although the topic of effective practice is enormous, let’s consider how Modacity fits into the above three principles.

Review of the Modacity app: Deliberate Practice

Effective practice requires a plan. It requires intention and a deliberate approach to improvement.

Through the creation of playlists, Modacity encourages you to make a practice plan. And it helps you move efficiently through the plan with the timer function.

The app also helps with feedback by encouraging you to record yourself. In other words, Modacity provides you with a framework for deliberate practice.

Review of the Modacity app: Practice is Tedious

Practice will never be exciting 100% of the time. Repetition can be monotonous. But Modacity encourages you to put thought into each repetition. It does this by providing you with ideas for positive change. The app then prompts you to consider whether you achieved your goal.

Modacity helps you avoid mindless repetition and keep things as efficient as possible by providing a framework for analysis.

And the practice counter gives you extra incentive to put in the practice time.

Review of the Modacity app: Leave Your Comfort Zone

If you’re stuck in a practice rut, Modacity helps you break free. It does this by combining a range of tools and concepts into one helpful app.

Similar to a new recipe for an old favorite, Modacity calls for a unique combination of flavors. It includes all the old ingredients but adds that little touch of something extra to spice things up.

The app invites you to consider practice from a new perspective. It proposes a thoughtful, deliberate approach to improvement over the black hole of mindless repetition that leads nowhere.

Are there drawbacks to using Modacity?

This review of the Modacity app wouldn’t be authentic without the addition of a few drawbacks. And the biggest one for me is the inability to export your recordings out of the app. Once you record something within the app, it’s stuck there.

I get around this by simultaneously recording practice sessions, complete with video, on my computer. Using both recording modalities offers the benefit of alternate feedback. The app is typically easier to use for immediate feedback on small chunks of music, such as one or two measures.

On the other hand, going back through and watching my entire practice session enables me to take a larger view of my sessions. It helps me determine whether I’m using time efficiently or whether my posture is relaxed.

Although slightly annoying, the inability to transfer recordings off the app isn’t a dealbreaker for me.

Another drawback I’ve heard about the app is the poor recording quality. My response to that is sound quality is only as good as the device on which you’re recording. If you’re looking for high quality, I suggest buying a microphone to sync with your computer rather than relying on Modacity. By doing so, you have the bonus of capturing both audio and video.

Again, in terms of forming the habit of listening back to yourself while practicing, this app can’t be beaten.

Click here for the affordable and effortless microphone I use.

Who should try the app?

I believe there is a wide range of musicians who would benefit from using Modacity. From beginning musicians learning how to practice effectively to adults struggling to grasp the concept of practice, there is value in this app.

Whether you are a high schooler preparing for a jazz band concert or an adult amateur serious about upping your piano game, this app is for you!

Is the app for a specific instrument?

Modacity is an app that can be used with a wide assortment of instruments. As mentioned above, it comes with a variety of built-in tools useful for an array of instrumentalists. The tool I use most frequently is the metronome which also can subdivide beats.

As a pianist, I don’t use the drone function, but I can see how it would be helpful for instruments that require tuning.

Beyond the tools are the features that promote effective practice and are beneficial to anyone.

Is there a cost to using the app?

One could categorize this next one as another drawback in this review of Modacity because there is an associated cost to using the app. On the other hand, I’ve had terrible experiences with free apps, so having an associated cost often means a higher value product.

Modacity offers a low monthly cost option. You could also snag this exclusive lifetime offer and waive the monthly fees. It’s a pretty sweet deal for such a transformative practice tool!

Is there access to an expert if I get stuck during my practice session?

Although the app itself cannot tell you whether you played something correctly, it does have access to expert musicians. I have yet to submit a question, but according to their website, you can ask general questions and expect feedback from someone knowledgeable in that area.

Are there similar music practice apps out there?

The short answer is that, yes, other music practice apps exist. Unfortunately, I had been searching long and hard for an app to promote better practice habits when I stumbled across Modacity.

That was over two years ago, and I still use the app daily. From the instant I downloaded Modacity, I recognized its value and never bothered to check out any other apps.

I was so impressed with the positive changes I saw in my practice sessions that several months ago, I became an affiliate partner with Modacity because I wanted to share the app with the world.

Although you could say I’m a bit biased, believe me when I tell you that I’ve never been more motivated to practice. And that includes my college years when I had access to the best practice and performance instruments out there. Not to mention a mountain of free time and very little daily responsibility.

It’s a huge accomplishment to be at a place where you prefer practice to Netflix and are seeing almost unbelievable results from your efforts. All thanks to a shift in practice mindset triggered by an app.

Review of the Modacity App: Additional Resources and Links

In summary, I hope you found this review of the Modacity app useful. If there are additional questions, please leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to update this post accordingly.

I will leave you with a few additional resources to further your musical journey!

  1. Interested in learning to play piano as an adult? Check out this post.
  2. Curious about whether there are benefits to learning piano? Browse this post.
  3. Ready to leap into piano lessons? Read this post.
  4. Inspired to transform your habits? You’ll love this post.
  5. And don’t forget to take advantage of this exclusive offer from Modacity!

The #1 Piano Practice App to Skyrocket Your Success!

The #1 Piano Practice App to Skyrocket Your Success!

Are you looking for ways to improve your piano practice sessions but aren’t sure how? Do you want to make the most of your time in front of the keyboard? Does the whole concept of practice secretly mystify you a bit, but you don’t want to admit it to anyone?

I completely understand because I’ve been there before too. Despite having studied piano since the age of 7 and obtaining a baccalaureate degree in music, practice baffled me.

And maybe it’s the analytical side of my brain trying to control the creative side. After all, I have a doctorate in nursing (emphasis on science) and a passion for playing piano and writing (focus on creativity). My life, therefore, often feels like a constant battle between the scientific and the innovative.

Still, I consistently had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t practicing the “right” way. This feeling stemmed from the fact that my performances were hit or miss. There were times when I performed brilliantly but others when I questioned whether I was sight-reading in front of an audience rather than performing a piece I had practiced a billion times before.

The seeming unpredictability of my playing inspired a deep dive into the art of practice. And although the concept of effective and intuitive piano practice is a puzzle I’m still piecing together, I’ve discovered a mind-blowing piano practice app that changed everything for me.

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

The #1 Piano Practice App

My desire for a better way led me on an exhaustive search for reputable resources on effective practice techniques. Eventually, I discovered podcasts. More specifically, I stumbled upon an interview with Marc Gelfo.

Although I don’t remember the specific podcast, I do remember Marc, a French horn player, discussing his passion for the art of practicing. He also talked openly about his challenges with practice. These challenges led Marc on a journey of discovery. And eventually, the development of an app to help other musicians improve their practice techniques.

The app is called ‘Modacity,’ and after hearing how it came about, I was intrigued. I was so fascinated by Modacity that I decided to try it for myself.

It’s been over two years, and I continue to use the app on an almost daily basis. And thanks to Modacity, I’ve overcome several key practice challenges which previously held me back. Such challenges include what to do when motivation fails and establishing better practice habits, active listening during practice sessions, and being more intentional when practicing.

Read on for all the juicy details and an exclusive offer from Modacity, hands down the best piano practice app out there!

Motivation

If there’s anything that being a working mom of 3 has taught me, it’s that sometimes putting the “I should” in front of “I want” is all too easy. I’m not saying this is entirely a negative quality. After all, our kids need our love, attention, and their physical needs to grow and thrive.

But there comes a point at which self-sacrifice becomes a narrative that carries you off into a sea of obligation and resentment.

And becoming a mom did not diminish my passion for the piano or the desire to improve my pianistic skills. Yet shuffling aside my desire for quiet practice time was starting to become all too routine.

Although I love practice time, my tendency to prioritize it behind other activities (including Netflix bingeing) proves passion isn’t enough. And neither is motivation because it fails to inspire regular practice sessions.

I needed something else entirely to up my practice game. Something that would help me overcome my tendency to put everything else first.

My desire to establish a more regular practice routine eventually led me to a deep dive into habits. And I ultimately discovered four essential books which answered my questions about why motivation isn’t the key to consistency. And, most importantly, how to achieve consistency in whatever it is you’re trying to do.

From Motivation to Habits

The four highly thought-provoking books that revamped my thoughts on motivation include Indistractable by Nir Eyal, Do Less by Kate Northrup, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.

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Although each author addresses habits from a slightly different angle, my main takeaway was how individualized habit formation could be. And for me, tracking is critical.

Tracking wasn’t an entirely new concept to me. An avid runner, I’ve consistently tracked both my time and distance, finding satisfaction in making comparisons between days, weeks, months, and even years.

Being able to input my time and distance to increase my overall mileage encourages me to get out of bed in the morning. It makes those early morning workouts entirely worth it!

And so, when I discovered that Modacity tracks statistics, including the number of consecutive days and hours, as well as the number of improvements made thus far, I was ecstatic! Tracking offers the perfect incentive to sit down at the keyboard even when my kitchen is a disaster or I have five baskets of laundry to fold.

The small endorphin rush I get from ticking those stats upward is enough to overcome the excuses I constantly conjure up about why I shouldn’t practice. Even if I only have 5 minutes to practice, it feels worth adding to my total practice tally.

If you also struggle with motivation, I highly recommend checking out the tracking feature on this app!

Plan Your Practice

How many times have you sat down to practice with zero plan for how you will spend your time? You then find yourself aimlessly playing repertoire you’ve already mastered or sight-reading whatever random music is near your piano.

Or maybe you don’t have the opportunity to practice until late in the day when you’ve already made 15,362 decisions, and your brain is tired of critical thinking. And by this point, you can’t bring yourself to organize a productive piano practice session thoughtfully.

Both scenarios have the potential to send you to frustration and burnout over a lack of progress. This is especially true if you are at a stage in life when you’re working without a teacher.

Although I am a strong advocate for working one-on-one with a teacher, there are simply times when it’s not feasible. Life gets busy! Between work, family life, and all the other demands of daily living, finding time to focus on improving at the keyboard is challenging.

But having a limit on your time is the exact reason that practice needs to have focus. But having a limit on your time is the exact reason that practice needs to have focus—the type of focus that guarantees improvement and piano success.

Fortunately, Modacity has a solution.

If you’re looking for a piano teacher, check out this list of teachers currently accepting students.

Organize Your Repertoire with a Piano Practice App

This piano practice app can save the titles of each piece you’re currently practicing. Each piece also has its own screen, complete with a readily accessible metronome.

I love this feature because I never have to remember the speed I practiced during my previous session.

You can also organize playlists for yourself which contain everything you need to work on at any given time. I will often set up a practice playlist for myself in the morning when my brain is fresh, and I’m at my best. Modacity also allows you to set timers on each piece within your playlist.

Setting timers is a great feature because I sometimes tend to dwell too long on one area and then run out of time for anything else. The act of setting a timer forces a limit and promotes efficiency. And as a recovering perfectionist, it also encourages me to be “good enough” rather than “perfect” before moving on.

I love organizing playlists and setting time limits on each piece before my practice session because it ensures more effective practice at the moment. It’s a feature that has helped me approach practice from a completely new and holistic perspective.

If you are struggling to make intentional progress or feel that practice is more of an afterthought right now, change it up! Try Modacity today!

Listen and Improve

This next feature may seem fairly obvious, but I was thrilled about its inclusion! As a pianist, one of your main goals is to transform black and white notes on a page into an auditory experience that is technically accurate and emotionally moving.

And as a fellow pianist, I’m confident you will agree when I say this goal is often much easier said than done!

But even as difficult as pulling off a Rachmaninoff concerto can be, a compelling performance is our goal. With that said, how often do you take the time to determine whether you’re meeting this goal?

Even if you regularly take lessons from an outstanding teacher, it’s essential to develop the ability to listen to yourself critically. After all, you are the one who listens to you the most. And wouldn’t it be incredible to provide feedback to yourself between lessons?

Looking for another unique way to up your piano game? Check out this post!

Self-Analysis Made Simple with a Piano Practice App

Luckily, Modacity tracks more than simple practice stats. This piano practice app also has a convenient recording feature that allows you to hit record at any time during your practice session.

You may be asking yourself whether the extra effort of hitting the record button and listening to the playback is worth it. Doesn’t listening while playing serve the same purpose?

The answer to that question is a resounding no.

And Gerald Klickstein, author of The Musician’s Way, has the best explanation I’ve heard yet about why simultaneous playing and self-analysis of the playing are impossible. His answer has to do with music existing in time rather than space. In other words, once you play something, it’s gone forever. After you’ve finished playing, only your memory of what you played exists.

Memory is often incredibly fickle, influenced by both emotion and the perception of your performance. Furthermore, the areas of the brain used to make and analyze music are different.

As an example, and according to the University of Central Florida, the cerebellum is the area of the brain used to coordinate movement, while Wernicke’s area assists in musical analysis. And although it’s possible to use multiple regions of your brain simultaneously, it’s challenging to focus on more than one thing at a time.

It’s almost like adding 368 and 863 in your head while spelling Claude Debussy aloud. It simply doesn’t work.

Recording: The Easiest Solution

Despite the tendency to convince ourselves otherwise, the example above proves multitasking is a myth. Therefore, the simplest way to determine whether you’re meeting your practice goals is to record yourself. And then play it back to decide whether you’re hitting the mark.

Luckily, Modacity makes recording a breeze! During every practice session, you have the ever-present option to hit “record.” After doing so, listen back and determine whether you met your mark. If so, saving the recording is as easy as hitting a button and naming the file. If the recording didn’t meet your standard, you could just as effortlessly delete and record again.

And you have the option of recording as few as one note or as many as an entire sonata. It’s entirely up to you. Whatever the length of your recording, taking the time to listen AND make improvements are both crucial elements in your development as a pianist.

Be Intentional

Although recording in and of itself is of incredible value, Modacity even takes it a step further. This piano practice app allows you to select a specific area to make improvements. And by doing so, it forces you to focus on the ONE thing you most want to improve upon at this moment.

The app first gives you the option of selecting a pre-filled area such as rhythm, tone, enjoyment, or filling one in yourself. You then have the opportunity to give it a try while recording. The app automatically plays it back and then asks whether whatever you tried worked. If the targeted practice improved your playing, you can either try it again or move on to a different area.

And if the targeted practice did not improve your playing, you can either try again or move to a different tactic.

Methodical Practice by Using a Piano Practice App

This particular feature has been one of the most valuable to me in creating more intention around practice. Before the app, I did SO MUCH mindless repetition. Deep inside, I knew that repetition does not result in improvement. But I had never found a better way. I had never forced myself to be intentional with my practice time.

My practice had always felt somewhat haphazard. As if there wasn’t enough time in the day to practice everything I wanted to practice. I also felt as if I had no idea how to make progress in my playing in the first place.

Therefore, the combination of overwhelm and uncertainty resulted in a tendency toward mindlessly repeating my pieces instead of approaching practice with a sense of mindful intention.

But Modacity taught me the importance of systematic practice. It helped me understand how focusing on ONE thing at a time creates faster progress than trying to make a bunch of changes all at once. And it gave me ideas about where to focus during practice.

Modacity has been the blueprint for the positive changes I’ve longed to build into my piano practice sessions.

It’s Your Turn

Modacity has been a staple in my practice life for over two years now, and I owe my piano progress over that time to this miraculous app.

I believe so strongly in the transformative power of Modacity that I sought out an affiliate partnership and am ecstatic to be able to offer an incredible discount to you! By clicking this link, you will have exclusive access to a lifetime Modacity license for $25 off the regular price.

If you’ve also been struggling with various aspects of piano practice, it’s time to embrace a change. It’s time to consider a piano practice app that intuitively fosters better habits. And better practice habits mean faster progress, more satisfaction from your playing, and an even deeper love for the instrument.

Don’t wait! Take advantage of this incredible offer and start transforming your piano practice today!

And as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post! Make sure you drop a comment below about how this piano practice app revolutionizes your playing!

How to Instantly Upgrade Your Piano Practice

How to Instantly Upgrade Your Piano Practice

“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.”

Elton John

Music is a gift, as is the ability to create music yourself. And maybe your goal is to deliver a flawless performance to a packed audience. Or perhaps you’re happiest in your living room, content to play only for yourself.

Whatever your piano goals, practice is the difference between achieving success and remaining stagnant. And unfortunately, practice tends to be one of those activities which gets a bad rap.

This is especially true for anyone who has taken piano lessons from a young age. Many parents and piano teachers mistakenly believe forcing kids to practice is the secret to musical success.

Unfortunately, forcing kids to practice often ends in fighting and resentment. Even worse, kids begin to associate the piano with negativity and eventually give it up entirely.

And even if you didn’t take lessons as a child, you may be somewhat mystified when it comes to practice. What is the best way to practice? Does it only mean countless repetitions? Are there secrets to making piano practice more effective and exciting?

These are the exact questions I found myself asking. My piano journey started at the age of 7 and led me toward a baccalaureate degree in music. To this day, I continue to be fascinated by the topic of piano practice.

And I’m constantly searching for the best piano practice techniques. If you’re also looking for ways to upgrade your piano practice, read on!

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.

Preparation

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Mindful, inspiring piano practice starts with preparation away from the piano.

Select the Ideal Time

Start by deciding when you will practice. Try to pick a time when you’re at your best, physically and emotionally. As a busy working mom, I realize this is NOT always possible. Just try your best. Then commit to this time by blocking it off in your planner.

It’s also ideal if you select a time with few distractions. Again, my experience as a mom who works full-time contradicts this ideal. My practice sessions are typically peppered with requests to fix toys, wipe tushies, and the occasional work call.

Between being forced to practice when I’m fatigued and the perpetual interruptions, tailoring my expectations has been a necessary part of the journey.

And honestly, the lack of progress due to factors outside my control is frustrating sometimes.

But I’ve learned to be reasonable and give myself grace. I’ve also started planning by taking a few minutes to clarify my practice session. Planning sessions involve setting goals for what I will accomplish today, tomorrow, and throughout the week.

Check out this post for my #1 piano practice app and an exclusive discount!

Upgrade your Piano Practice by Setting Goals

Start by listing all the different pieces you’re aspiring to learn. Then brainstorm every little thing that needs improvement in each piece. Now is the time to unleash your love for the details! Nothing is too small to write down.

Is the fingering in measure 34 awkward? Or are you having trouble nailing the trill at the end of that Chopin Nocturne? Do you forget to breathe when you play and, therefore, tense up? Maybe you’d love to work on memorization but have never taken the time before.

List each area where you are seeking improvements.

Once you have it all down on paper, it’s time to figure out a schedule. Consider your time constraints. Remember to be realistic about your time and ability to accomplish goals in a single session. Being practical is especially important if your time constraints are similar to mine! It always feels better to cross everything off a small list than to leave things unfinished on a larger one.

Although time is a crucial factor in the preparation phase, there’s another equally important factor at play; a factor that can also make or break your practice sessions’ effectiveness.

It’s All About Balance

You will find that some piano practice goals are more straightforward to accomplish than others. For example, memorization may require more brainpower than correcting the fingering in a trill.

Therefore, it’s essential to organize your goals by time and consider difficulty. How challenging is each one? And how can you arrange them to maximize your practice time?

Consider tackling one larger goal per day and throwing in one or two smaller ones to balance your session out. Or you could save the more complex tasks for days when you have fewer distractions.

To truly upgrade your piano practice, stack the more challenging task(s) at the beginning of your session, after your warm-up. Organizing your routine this way ensures you’re at your best and can effectively process the practice.

It can also be helpful to do several short practice sessions during the day instead of one long one. Personal experience has taught me that my brain grasps information better in shorter sessions than in longer marathons.

Block off time each week to prepare for the upcoming week’s practice sessions. By taking time to prepare and set goals, you will soon see your piano playing improve dramatically!

Warm-Up

Another often overlooked way to upgrade your piano practice is to warm up at your session’s start.

I know what you’re thinking. Your practice time is limited as it is. Why spend extra time on anything that isn’t a specific goal?

And the answer is that the warm-up is the ideal way to get your mind in the right space. It’s the perfect opportunity to set your intention for practicing.

Warming up also gives your muscles time to adjust to the upcoming session. Whether it’s a Chopin etude, Rachmaninoff prelude, or your favorite pop song, playing the piano requires a certain degree of physical dexterity. It’s the combination between brain and body that ultimately produces a particular sound.

Therefore both the brain and body must be prepared for the session to succeed.

And there are so many distinct ways to effectively warm-up. One of my favorites is to simultaneously play and sing whatever strikes me as fun or appealing at the time. I have found that accompanying myself kicks things off in an entertaining way and makes my entire practice session more enjoyable.

Keep It Fun!

As someone who adores classical piano, I recognize that sometimes, I take myself and my playing way too seriously. On those days when I’m either dreading practice or simply not feeling it, I like to make sure the warm-up is fun! Oddly enough, one of the ways I do this is by singing.

Although you won’t see me headlining Broadway any time soon, I dearly love a catchy show tune. And I’m a sucker for anything by Matchbox Twenty. I especially love accompanying myself because it stretches my brain and keeps practice entertaining.

It brings back the simple joy of creating music my way.

On other days, I warm up by playing scales or various exercises to work on technique. You may also consider pulling concepts out of the pieces you’re working on to use as a warm-up.

The possibilities are endless, so see where your creativity leads!

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out some of my favorites.

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Upgrade Your Piano Practice Through Memorization

Before studying piano in college, I admittedly had done very little memorization. It was somewhat of a foreign concept. And it was incredibly intimidating at first.

It wasn’t until after college that I became genuinely interested in memorization. Don’t get me wrong. I did plenty of memorizing in college but never truly embraced it.

After college, I took a job in a completely different field that I didn’t particularly care for, and playing the piano became my escape. Ironically, although I no longer had access to the college practice room grand pianos, I was more motivated to practice than I had ever been.

At that point in my life, memorization became more of a game and less of a graduation requirement. It’s interesting how much more appealing something becomes when no one is forcing you to do it.

And I suddenly realized how memorizing a piece of music could make the piece a part of you in a way that reading from a score can’t. Musical expression, phrasing, and dynamics suddenly come alive as all your focus goes toward playing instead of the sheet music.

Although memorization takes practice in and of itself, it’s absolutely worth it! And in my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to instantly upgrade your piano practice!

Memorization Tips and Tricks

Whether you aspire to perform a Rachmaninoff concerto someday or whether you want to impress your friends, memorization is a tool that can close the gap between dream and reality.

And although it may seem difficult at first, there are a few tips to make the process a bit smoother. The first is to start with songs well below your playing capability. Memorization is a tricky skill to learn when you’re also struggling with technique and artistry. And if it’s a piece you can sight-read correctly (or nearly so) at first glance, even better!

The second trick I use is to memorize one measure at a time. And there are many times when I don’t even start at the beginning of the piece. Sometimes it’s beneficial to start either at the very end of the piece itself or the beginning of a particular section of the piece.

If you always memorize only from the beginning of the piece and you have a memory lapse (which is, by the way, completely normal!), it can be difficult to start again mid-piece. But if you are constantly working to build your memory starting at various places throughout the piece, picking up anywhere will be easier.

The third tip for those new to memorizing music is to keep your memorization sessions very short. I’m talking about a maximum of 5 minutes. Learning new skills, especially memorization, requires a great deal of focus. If your sessions are too long, your brain can quickly become overwhelmed, and memory lapses can take over, stalling progress and leading to frustration.

If you would like to start incorporating memorization into your practice sessions, make sure you check out this post.

It’s Your Turn to Upgrade Your Piano Practice

Whether you’ve now resolved to prepare for practice sessions in advance or to starting memorizing your music, I genuinely hope this post has inspired you to upgrade your piano practice! As someone who has played the instrument for upwards of 20 years, I can assure you that your desire to practice will ebb and flow at times.

It’s normal to go through periods in your life when you’re so motivated to practice that it’s difficult to peel yourself away from the keyboard. And it’s just as normal to have others when you couldn’t feel less compelled to sit down at the bench.

It’s easy to show up when your motivation is high, and you feel like practicing. But continuing to show up, even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing, is the mark of a true musician.

Motivation comes and goes, but you can also instantly upgrade your piano practice by creating foolproof systems to get you closer to your goals. For more on setting goals and creating habits, check out this post dedicated to the topic. I guarantee you won’t look at either goals or habits the same way again!

Although there are seasons in life when you may learn piano independently, there are others when getting instruction from a teacher is key to continued improvement. If you’re currently searching for a teacher, make sure you visit my resource page for online teachers with current openings in their studios. This list includes a diverse range of teachers with diverse backgrounds and specialties, but all have a passion for teaching and helping students accomplish their goals.

And if you’re searching for a complimentary program for your classical piano training, don’t miss out on the ProPractice course created by Dr. Josh Wright. It’s absolutely the best and most thorough instruction on a wide variety of pieces from the classical piano repertoire. If you’ve never heard of the course, click here to read about my experience and the reasons why you’re missing out by not investing in this incredible resource.

As always, I would love to hear from you! Drop a comment below with your thoughts on this post. Where are you on your piano journey? What are the best ways you’ve found to upgrade your piano practice? And what are your struggles with learning piano, either independently or with a teacher?

Until next time, stay healthy, stay safe, and never stop learning!

7 Simple Tips for Adults Who Want to Learn Piano

7 Simple Tips for Adults Who Want to Learn Piano

Deep down, you have a secret desire to learn piano. Maybe you even took lessons as a kid but had an awful learning experience. You had one of those “old school” teachers who rapped you across the fingers with a ruler after every wrong note. Although you have always loved the instrument, a prodigy you were not, and the consistently negative feedback chipped away at your self-esteem. Perhaps your teacher even chain-smoked during your lesson.

And not only did you struggle with your teacher, but your parents were constantly harping on you to practice. Unfortunately, practicing turned into a chore instead of a delightful pastime, and eventually, you gave up the instrument entirely.

Or maybe you played saxophone in the school band, but it’s been years since you’ve picked it up. You’re now looking for an entirely new challenge and love the versatility playing piano provides.

Whatever your reasons for considering the instrument, congratulations! Learning to play the piano is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences out there.

And there are incredible benefits to learning as an adult versus a child. One of the most compelling is that you have a choice in the entire process. You get to decide the musical genre, what you do with your newfound skills, and even how you want to learn piano.

As an adult, you’re entirely in control of the entire learning process.

Whether you’re just starting or are picking the instrument back up after a hiatus, these seven tips will inspire and motivate you to chase your piano goals! Let’s get started.

This post may contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Affiliate, 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.

1. Learn Piano by Finding a Teacher

As with many life skills, learning piano requires expert guidance. Depending upon your learning style, goals, and previous experience, this guidance will likely come from a teacher.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to come from one-on-one lessons. It could come from an online program, virtual lessons, an app, or even a combination of sources. The learning possibilities are endless!

For example, you could take lessons (either in person or virtually) and sign up for either a membership site or even access specific course material depending upon your playing goals. Alternately, you could sign up for a membership and supplement your learning with an app.

There are so many great learning combinations!

And the field of piano pedagogy (the art and science of teaching piano) has changed infinitely over the years. The chain-smoking, knuckle-rapping days of demanding perfection from students are gone. In its place is a genuine desire to instill a love of music in students. If you still don’t believe me, check out this list of incredible piano teachers currently accepting new students!

And speaking of finding a piano teacher, gone are the days of limiting yourself to teachers within driving distance. Technology allows you to study with virtually anyone in the world without even leaving the comfort of your home. It’s an incredible perk that makes it easier than ever to learn piano!

2. Embrace the Beginner’s Mindset

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess there’s at least one topic in which you’re an expert. Maybe you even consider yourself an expert in multiple topic areas.

And once you’ve become an expert, starting something new can feel intimidating. Being a beginner can be especially difficult if you’re someone who is even the tiniest bit of a perfectionist. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction that comes with being an expert. You’ve mastered a particular area and maybe even enjoy guiding others on their journey toward mastery.

But there’s also something magical that happens when you’re a beginner. As a beginner, you’re free to ask questions and make mistakes. Your mind is open to all possibilities, and you feel limitless.

It’s fascinating that you often put more limits on yourself as you become more experienced in something. Limitations that hold you back from your full potential.

Starting something new, such as learning piano, can inspire you to open your mind. And an open mind is always a beautiful quality!

3. Learn Piano by Practicing Daily

I’m sure you’ve heard that tired old saying about practice making perfect. To some extent, I do agree that it’s true. You’ll never get better at anything unless you put in the time.

I used to define practice as mindless repetition. And I used to think that if I could somehow repeat something over and over, it would magically perfect itself. I felt that if I repeated something enough times, the kinks would work themselves out. But nothing can be further from the truth.

Actual improvement at the keyboard requires your brain to engage in what you’re doing. Practice is an art form unto itself.

But it’s not something to be dreaded and despised. Practice is an opportunity to fall in love with the instrument. It’s a time to let your creativity shine! Find ways to make practice entertaining, whether by playing music you love or experimenting with something new.

I also used to think that the amount of time I spent on practice made a difference. Over time, this has again proven to be a myth. I practice less now than I did in my college days and feel like my playing has made more remarkable strides than it ever did back then.

My thoughts on practice have shifted over the years, and now I have two daily goals. The first is to play something every day. Even if I only have two minutes, I play something. The other is to relish the time I spend playing. Especially if you are a busy adult with work, kids, and a million daily obligations, make your goals simple and your practice enjoyable.

Make sure to check out this post for my secret practice weapon and an exclusive offer!

4. Listen to Great Pianists

When you learn piano, take advantage of the resources all around. YouTube, for example, has a plethora of free resources. Finding performances from all the great pianists is only a click away.

Research great performers in your chosen genre and listen to their recordings. What sets their performances apart from others? And can you identify anything specific that draws you to their performance versus other pianists? Most importantly, how can you mirror those qualities you love in your performances?

Although I love the piano in all its forms, classical is hands down my favorite genre. And over the years, I have started compiling my list of pianists I aspire to emulate.

These pianists inspire me to reach new heights in my playing and keep going, even when things get tough. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out any of the following pianists:

5. Take Advantage of Performance Opportunities

Music is all about musical expression, and learning how to convey emotions to others effectively is all part of the charm!

Whether you aspire to play on a massive stage in front of thousands of raving fans or simply want to serenade your dog on a Sunday afternoon, performance is an essential part of learning piano.

And depending upon how you decide to learn the instrument, performance opportunities are everywhere. If you are taking one-on-one lessons with a teacher, you automatically have the chance to perform regularly for your teacher. Many teachers do host regular recitals, which allow you an opportunity to perform live for an audience. Recitals are a fun opportunity to connect with other students and celebrate your learning milestones!

Many teachers also encourage students to take piano exams as it provides a guided way to learn piano. Exams typically consist of learning a piece to perform for judges and a written music theory component.

There are also supportive Facebook groups for piano enthusiasts, including Pianists and Piano Lovers, The Art of Playing the Piano, and Piano Performance Anxiety Practice Room. Each group has various opportunities for you to post piano videos to gain performance experience and obtain feedback from the group.

Churches also offer the opportunity to gain performance experience in a low-pressure setting. Whether that experience is as the keyboardist in the praise band or as the pre-service music, performance opportunities abound.

6. Join a Community

In your quest to learn piano, don’t go it alone. Pursuing a hobby is always more fun with other people! And thanks to Facebook, you can find groups for basically any imaginable hobby.

If your interest is specifically classical piano, make sure you check out the ProPractice course. The course itself was created by Dr. Josh Wright and includes video tutorials of a diverse range of the classical repertoire. From Bach to Beethoven to Chopin to Rachmaninoff, Dr. Wright covers the most popular pieces that most pianists want to learn at some point.

The ProPractice course also includes various technique videos and general tips on playing. It’s a fantastic resource for pianists of all levels and abilities! And not only does the course have resources that pair well with one-on-one lessons, but it also comes with access to an exclusive Facebook community. This community consists of pianists passionate about the piano and helping others on their piano journeys.

If classical piano is your goal, make sure you check out the ProPractice course here and take advantage of all the incredible benefits from the course. You can also read about my personal experience with the course here.

7. Learn Piano by Starting Today

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Zig Ziglar

Perhaps one of the most crucial tips for adults who want to learn piano is to start today. Life is crazy busy! But it can be all too easy to get so wrapped up in your daily to-do list that you forget to truly live.

You forget to include those small things in your life which light you up inside and inspire you to new heights. And the piano is one of the best ways to challenge yourself while finding inner peace simultaneously. It’s a fantastic way to connect with your emotions while learning a completely different skillset. And it’s a skill set applicable in various other areas of life, including at work and home.

Whether you’re brand new to the instrument or whether you did learn piano at some previous point in your life, now is the time to start. And if you’re looking for an online teacher, don’t forget to check out this list of piano teachers accepting new students.

If you’re looking for an online arsenal of classical playing resources, make sure you consider Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course. Finding similar resources from a pianist of his caliber is utterly impossible, and thanks to his course, my playing has improved significantly. Investing in the course is the next best thing to taking private lessons from Dr. Wright himself. 

It’s Your Turn

I genuinely hope this post has inspired you to learn piano! Although my piano journey has had its ups and downs, I am incredibly thankful for the knowledge I’ve gained. The piano is that one thing that gets me through the tough times and makes the good times that much sweeter.

There are so many valuable lessons to be learned from the instrument that I highly encourage everyone to give it a try. And if it’s not for you, that’s ok, but at least you gave it a try. It’s always better to have tried and figured out it’s not a fit rather than live your entire life wondering what could have been.

Leave a comment below with your thoughts after reading this post. Were you inspired to learn piano? Or are you currently learning piano and looking for a specific resource? And what are your favorite piano resources? Who are your favorite pianists?

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

Until next time, stay healthy, stay safe, and keep chasing your dreams!

Top Piano Practice Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Top Piano Practice Myths You Need to Stop Believing

You’ve thought about learning to play the piano but something is stopping you. Maybe it’s time. Or your age. Maybe you don’t feel “musically talented.”

Or maybe you would love to learn piano but have no idea where to even start.

Perhaps you have enrolled your child in lessons only to discover the challenges inherent to maintaining a practice regimen. And you’re now questioning whether their lack of practice makes lessons even worth it at this point.

I get it.

As someone who has played piano for as long as I can remember, I’ve also heard my fair share of myths surrounding the instrument. And there are a shocking number of piano practice myths out there!

Rest assured that at least part of what may be holding you (or your child) back from learning the instrument is likely a myth.

But you don’t have to let a series of lies hold you back from the joy of playing any longer. Let’s dive deeper into the top piano practice myths you need to stop believing!

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.

Kids and Piano Practice

Parents … this one’s for you! How many times have you signed your kid up for an activity only to be dismayed by the amount of fighting created by said activity?

Maybe it’s having to attend soccer practice instead of a friend’s birthday party. Or maybe your daughter would rather watch “The Babysitter’s Club” than go to her Girl Scouts meeting.

Signing your kids up for activities is all fun and games until the accountability hits. Believe me … with 3 kids, I’ve been there a time or two!

The Downside of Piano Lessons

And signing them up for piano lessons is no different. Many piano teachers out there have strict policies regarding weekly practice. I’ve even heard of teachers kicking students out for not practicing.

Or parents simply removing their kids from lessons over the guilt of not maintaining a practice schedule.

But can we take a step back for a minute and think about why we enrolled our kids in lessons in the first place? Was it so they could be the next great concert pianist? Or was it simply so they could learn about music and have fun?

Kids have way too much on their plates these days. The pressure to perform is everywhere and I hate the thought that kids are removed from what could be a lifetime of joyful music making simply because they didn’t practice per someone else’s guidelines.

If your child is naturally motivated to practice on a regular basis, great! You won the piano parent lottery! But if not, let them discover aspects of the instrument which are fun for them. If they love watching piano YouTube videos, great! Or if they love to improv instead of practice their lesson materials, awesome!

Stop forcing piano practice. Instead, encourage anything even remotely related to the instrument and you will foster a lifelong love for music. And honestly, isn’t that the whole point?

Lastly, make sure you find a piano teacher who supports the main goal as being fun and enjoyment rather than strict practice schedules and the pressure to perform.

If you need help locating a piano teacher, make sure you check out my recent post on how to find the right piano teacher for you!

Learning Piano Means Hours of Daily Practice

And speaking of piano practice myths … let’s dive into the one about daily practice requirements.

When I tell people that I practice piano every single day, the response is often, “Wow! How do you find the time? I’d love to play but have absolutely zero time in my day.”

And the truth is, I make time. I prioritize practice on a daily basis and refuse to let anything interfere with that time.

But I also don’t spend hours upon hours of playing on a daily basis. My practice sessions are often 20 minutes or less. And even those 20 minutes are frequently interrupted by kids screaming, work calls, and just the general chaos of everyday life.

Sometimes those practice sessions don’t even involve putting my fingers to the keys. When life gets too busy, they may consist of watching instructional videos (yes, on YouTube) or performances of pieces I’m currently studying.

Although there are days when I’m able to devote more time to practice, I’ve actually found that my memory retention is better when I practice for shorter time periods.

And so I continue to carve out those small chunks of time in my day to become a better pianist. If you’re curious to hear the end result of all those small practice sessions, check out my performance of one of my favorite pieces of all time … Elegie in E-flat Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Elegie in E-flat Minor, Sergei Rachmaninoff

Piano Practice Myths About Your Age

I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me that they would love to learn piano but never learned when they were young. My response to this one?

It’s NEVER too late!

There are actually so many advantages to learning the instrument as an adult. Not least of which is that you get to decide WHY you want to learn to play and have the flexibility to determine HOW you learn.

No one is forcing you to learn a style or genre you hate. And there’s no guilting you into recitals or exams you’re completely disinterested in taking.

You are in control.

Another major benefit of learning piano as an adult is your attention span. Children have such short attention spans and keeping them focused is a perpetual challenge. As an adult, however, your ability to focus on something for longer periods of time is completely developed and when combined with motivation, you are an unstoppable force!

You also get to choose whether your practice instrument is a keyboard, a spinet, or even a baby grand. Your learning is all in your hands.

How incredible is that?

If you’re curious about even more benefits of learning to play piano as an adult, make sure to check out this post.

All Music Must be Memorized

In the world of classical piano, memorization is historically mandatory for performances. Watch any great pianist on YouTube and it’s very likely that they are playing an incredibly difficult piece without a shred of music in front of them.

And they’re pulling it off without so much as a wrong note anywhere.

Talk about intimidating!

This is one of the piano practice myths nearest and dearest to my heart because for years, I struggled with memorization. Although I started piano as a child, I never memorized ANYTHING until I began my college studies and suddenly realized memorization was mandatory.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to learn how to memorize at that level of playing! And I can’t say that I mastered the art of memorization until after college when I started memorizing for my own enjoyment.

The key phrase here is “for my own enjoyment.” Music is, at its core, something created for enjoyment. If playing from memory brings you joy, do it. But if the thought of memorizing a piece brings fear and apprehension, what’s the point?

Play for the fun of it and if that means playing from a book, so be it!

You Don’t Need a Teacher to Learn Piano

One of the most rampant piano practice myths out there involves the ability to learn piano all by yourself. There are an incredible number of apps, websites, and YouTube videos devoted to the topic of teaching yourself piano.

And I don’t necessarily disagree.

There are so many aspects of the instrument including music theory, improv, and composition which can be picked up by watching videos and reading blogs.

But there are other aspects, such as technique, which truly require the expertise and insight from a knowledgeable teacher. You simply can’t replace the 1:1 feedback you get from lessons with an experienced teacher.

And thanks to technology, there are an incredible number of teacher who offer online lessons. Teachers with a variety of performance and educational backgrounds.

The online world gives you access to teachers you would never otherwise have the ability to study with. It truly is an incredible time in history study piano!

And if you’re looking for an online teacher, check out my Resource page which lists incredibly talented piano teachers currently accepting new students.

You Must Have a Teacher to Learn Piano

I know what you’re thinking … “Didn’t you just say I needed a teacher to learn piano?”

Kind of.

Depending upon your goals, having a piano teacher is essential. This is especially true if you’re interested in pursuing higher level study of the instrument.

But if your goal is to learn a few pop chords as a party trick, apps and videos may be your best bet.

And if you have already have a solid background in the instrument but are wanting to get back into it again or simply brush up your skills, you may also benefit from an app or website.

My personal favorite online course is run by Dr. Josh Wright, an internationally acclaimed pianist. I absolutely love classical piano and his course is hands down the best for classical players. It delves into all the intricacies of technique and interpretation of some of the most beloved piano repertoire.

I personally have learned so much from the course that I became an affiliate because I felt other pianists needed to hear about it as well! If you’re interested in checking the course out for yourself, click here.

Piano Requires Perfection

“Use the talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”

Henry van Dyke

Spend any time at all trolling YouTube and you will come across a litany of flawless performances of some of the most difficult piano repertoire out there. Musical perfection at its finest.

Sometimes I think people get the impression that to play piano, you MUST play everything perfectly, all the time. And that if you’re not at least a little on the perfectionism side, piano isn’t the instrument for you.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

There’s so much that learning how to play the instrument gives you in return, even if you can’t play anything perfectly. I personally feel that as long as you inject emotion into your playing, wrong notes don’t matter.

There’s also something to be said about making each performance of a piece (whether in front of other people or your dog!) unique. Making something unique comes from a range of different factors, including wrong notes.

And as long as playing is meaningful to you, who cares what anyone else thinks?

The world could ALWAYS use a little more beauty, in whatever form it comes so play on!

If you’re struggling with perfectionism, make sure to check out this post on how to overcome perfectionism.

It’s Your Turn to Talk About Piano Practice Myths

I truly hope you have found this post both inspirational and informative in dispelling some of the biggest piano practice myths out there. And hopefully dispelling the myths has provided that little kick of motivation you need to go after your piano playing dreams!

If you’re looking for even more resources, check out the following posts:

How to Find the Right Piano Teacher for You

How to Learn Piano as an Adult

Become a Better Pianist with These 5 Simple Tools

Are You Ready to Improve Your Piano Playing?

5 Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult

And if you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Josh Wright’s ProPractice course, check it out for yourself here.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this post! Did I miss one of the piano practice myths currently holding you back? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll be sure to let you know what I think!

Now get out there and start making some music!

How to Find the Right Piano Teacher for You

How to Find the Right Piano Teacher for You

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

Albert Einstein

The piano is an incredible instrument with musical versatility unmatched by any other. It can inspire emotions ranging from elation to despair. And when played well, piano music can make you laugh, dance, cry, or simply dream.

And to have the ability to evoke emotions in others through this amazing instrument? It’s a feeling unlike any other.

As someone who has spent the better part of my life mastering the piano, I can say with confidence that learning how to play is freedom. It’s joy, struggle, and personal satisfaction unmatched by few other life pursuits.

Learning to play the piano well is less of a sprint and more the marathon of a lifetime.

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.

Why You Need a Piano Teacher

Whether you’re just starting out on your piano journey or have been playing for a while, finding a piano teacher is crucial. It’s the difference between the overwhelming frustration which comes by studying on your own or learning and growing through the struggle with someone by your side.

Although there may be times when you can manage learning independently, to truly succeed, you need guidance from someone further along in their journey than you. You need the expertise which comes from the right piano teacher.

Learning to play the piano well is a skill which takes time and considerable practice. There are an incredible number of subtleties you must learn to truly master the instrument. From learning how to voice and shape a phrase to executing stylistically appropriate dynamics, there’s so much to take in!

Although several aspects such as music theory and history can be mastered independently, there are many which simply can’t. Technique, for example, is a crucial aspect which can make or break your playing. Correct technique is the difference between effortless playing and serious injury. And learning correct technique requires outside perspective from a teacher.

Having a piano teacher also adds a level of accountability which can be difficult to achieve on your own. Your teacher can tailor lessons to your individual learning goals and fill in gaps which can happen when trying to piece things together yourself.

Even beyond technique and accountability is the fact that your progress will be so much faster with someone guiding your learning.

If you’re serious about learning to play the piano, finding the right piano teacher for you is a must.

You may also enjoy reading ‘5 Benefits of Learning Piano as an Adult.’

Questions to Ask Yourself

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensures that you do things differently from everyone else.”

Sara Blakely

The right piano teacher is out there for you. But finding this person starts by looking within yourself.

The very first question to ask yourself is why you want to learn to play piano. Is it because you want to impress friends and family with your skills? Are you fascinated by jazz and want to improv over a band someday? Or maybe you’d like to be able to accompany the church choir. Maybe you’d simply like to pass the time doing something both creative and engaging.

Whatever your reason for learning, now is the time to get crystal clear on it. Once you start looking, you’ll quickly realize how many different piano teachers are out there. Seeking clarity on your why now will make your search easier later.

After determining your why, think about the amount of time you’re able to devote both to lessons and to practice. Consistent daily practice, even if it’s only for a few minutes, produces the best results. Now is also the time to figure out whether you’re able to dedicate extra time on a weekly basis for commuting to lessons or whether you’d prefer to conserve your time with online lessons.

Next consider your budget. Just as there are many different types of piano teachers out there, so too are there lessons at all price points. In general, you can expect to pay higher prices for teachers with more educational and performance experiences.

You may also enjoy reading ‘Piano Practice Tips to Improve Your Playing.’

Additional Considerations

Not all piano teachers are exactly the same. Some focus solely on adult beginner and intermediate students. Other teachers prefer working with children. Still others prefer focusing on a specific genre such as classical, jazz, or pop.

Even beyond the individual interests of the teacher is consideration of their background. Did they study music in college? Do they have any advanced degrees in music? And what type of performance experience do they have?

Believe it or not but there are actually groups dedicated to the professional development of music teachers. Having membership in such as group is often an indication that the teacher is serious about what they do and is themselves working towards improvement.

How to Find a Piano Teacher

After you’ve completed self-reflection about your reasons for learning, your time availability, and your budget, it’s time to begin the search for a piano teacher.

One of the best places to start is at your local university. Many college professors also teach lessons on the side and are happy to take on new students. If their studios are full, piano professors are also typically able to give references for other teachers who do have availability.

Interestingly, college students studying music are often themselves great teachers. They are also typically eager to take on new students to gain teaching experience prior to graduation.

Another great place to find a piano teacher is through word of mouth. Try reaching out to others in your community to find the best teachers.

And if you’re looking for an online piano teacher, try posting a question in a relevant Facebook group. There are several aimed towards adult piano learners and they are a convenient way to find teacher candidates and to address general questions about playing.

Yet another great resource is the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), an organization dedicated to supporting music teachers. Teachers can actually become certified to teach through the organization by completing a series of projects which is then reviewed to ensure competency. Not all teachers on the MTNA website have completed certification however the fact that they are members suggests a dedication to the profession of teaching music.

There are also state and local chapters of the national organization and reaching out locally is a great way to find someone in your area.

Evaluating Prospective Teachers

After you’ve located a prospective piano teacher, it’s time to see whether you think they will be a good fit for you and your piano goals. Taking time upfront to determine whether there’s a good fit between you both saves time in the long run. The following are several areas to consider and questions to ask when evaluating piano teachers.

Evaluating Piano Teacher Professionalism

Professionalism is the first area to consider when evaluating a piano teacher. This is a somewhat broad concept which includes how the teacher interacts with students and how they conduct their business. It also includes whether they’ve taken the time to come up with their own teaching philosophy and whether they continue to improve their own playing.

Do they have a studio policy which outlines expectations for their students? Is there a weekly practice requirement? Do they teach from a set curriculum or do they individualize student learning? And do they require students participate in performance opportunities such as recitals or contests?

Do they include policies on billing and what happens if you must miss a lesson? Are there make-up lessons available or do you lose out on the lesson fee if you must cancel?

It’s important to figure out expectations on both sides in the beginning to avoid misunderstanding later on.

Is it possible to watch a lesson with one of their current students? If so, are the interactions between piano teacher and student pleasant? Does there appear to be mutual respect between the two? And how does the teacher handle situations in which the student doesn’t initially understand a concept?

It can be very helpful to interview the student independently as well regarding their experience with the teacher. Do they feel that lessons with the teacher have been valuable? And would they recommend their teacher to others?

A positive review from a student is often a good indicator of solid professionalism on the part of the teacher.

Evaluating Performance Skills

After determining the teacher’s level of professionalism, it’s time to evaluate their performance skills. Learning to play piano is a skill and it will be very difficult to learn from someone who themselves doesn’t play competently. Having the ability to demonstrate during lessons is therefore incredibly important.

Are they actively involved in performing and if so, is it possible to watch a performance? If not, are they willing to demonstrate their pianistic skills? Is their playing inspiring and engaging? Does their playing appear relatively relaxed and expressive? And does their technique seem like the type of technique you would like to have at some point?

It’s worth mentioning that not all fantastic performers are gifted teachers and vice versa. Being able to play and being able to convey the information required to play to someone else are two completely different skillsets. It’s therefore important not to base your decision to study with someone solely on their pianistic skills.

As mentioned above, professionalism also plays a key part in evaluating whether you feel they are a good fit for you and your goals.

Next Steps in Your Piano Journey

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Seneca

Hopefully by taking the time to clarify your piano goals and thoroughly vet potential candidates, you will find a perfectly compatible piano teacher.

Although professionalism and playing ability are important, keep in mind that studying the piano is difficult. Learning any new skill presents a challenge and the piano is no exception.

It’s therefore incredibly important to find a teacher who is also highly encouraging and inspires you to be better. You should leave your lesson feeling motivated and ready to take on new heights in your playing. If you find that you’re constantly feeling defeated and down on yourself after lessons, it may be time to start the search for an alternate teacher.

Never be afraid to look around if it’s simply not working out with a teacher. It’s your piano journey and you want to make sure you have an optimal learning experience. Sometimes personalities clash or expectations are not aligned and that’s ok. You’re always free to move on if you feel it’s just not working out.

And if you’re ready to take the leap, check out this list of online piano teachers currently accepting new students. Each teacher has a unique background and perspective so you’re sure to find a great one!

Bonus Resource

Although I highly recommend having a piano teacher to guide your learning, it can also be helpful to have supplemental resources. And in my opinion, one of the very best resources out there for pianists interested in learning classical piano is Dr. Josh Wright.

I first learned about Dr. Wright through a podcast for piano teachers and immediately became fascinated with his playing and teaching philosophy. Initially I began following his YouTube channel and found so much value in his free content that I decided to invest in his paid membership course called ProPractice.

This course is hands down one of the very best investments I’ve made in my own improvement as a pianist! It’s an incredibly valuable resource for technical development and the artistic interpretation of many classical piano repertoire pieces ranging from the earliest beginner to advanced. I highly recommend the course to anyone who is serious about advancing their piano skills!

You can check out the course for yourself here. And if you’re interested in hearing Dr. Wright perform, check out this video of Chopin’s Ballade in G minor.

It’s Your Turn

As always, I hope you’ve found value in this post. Learning to play the piano is an incredibly rewarding pursuit and one that I’m so thankful to have started! Let me know where you are on your piano journey below and if you’ve yet to start it, please know that it’s never too late. Today is the perfect opportunity to challenge yourself and grow in so many unexpected ways! Cheers to a new year and yet another chance for only getting better!

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.

How to Learn Piano as an Adult

How to Learn Piano as an Adult

Every time you hear a piano, the thought crosses your mind. “I would love to play but learn piano as an adult … is that even possible? And if so, how?”

Adulthood comes with its fair share of perks. But right alongside these perks lies a heap of responsibility.

Between your job, chasing after your kids, and the energy spent keeping your marriage alive, life can feel very overwhelming. It can take a serious toll on your motivation and your energy.

Any non-essential items get pushed to the back burner, forgotten and left for another day.

But as humans, we crave creativity. We need an outlet to express ourselves beyond the mundane tasks inherent to adulthood. Creativity ignites a spark deep inside which makes life worth living. It gives us something to strive for and look forward to.

In short, creativity adds value to our lives.

This post may contain affiliate links and as a member of the Amazon associates program, 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.

Overcoming Mental Blocks

I think everyone can agree that creating something, whether it’s music, art, or writing, feels marvelous! The satisfaction of having used your talents to complete an entirely new and unique project is like none other!

But have you ever noticed that learning new skills seems infinitely harder as an adult?

Kids are fearless. They see possibility everywhere they look. And they want to try everything!

Somewhere along the line, many people lose that infinite possibility attitude. Sadly, it’s often due to a false story we create in our minds stemming from a tiny incident years ago.

Maybe it was a comment from your teacher about how you’re better off focusing on math rather than art. Or your dad’s remark that your sister has more musical talent than you. Perhaps your well-meaning aunt told you that a career in writing is a path to poverty.

Whatever the incident, you immediately created a story in your mind which to this day has you believing you can’t. Your creative spirit was crushed that day. And although your logical side continues to play the story on repeat, there’s a little piece of you deep down who believes in your own success and is begging to be released!

Stop believing the lies! Listen closely to what that tiny voice is telling you. Chart your own course and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks! They’re all too busy focusing on their own stories to pay attention to yours anyway.

You may also enjoy reading this post about how to stop the comparison trap.

The Adult Learner Advantage

Although it may seem as if not learning piano as a child puts you at a disadvantage, nothing could be further from the truth! In many cases, if you decide to learn piano as an adult, you are actually at several distinct advantages.

The first is that you are making the conscious choice to learn piano as an adult. You are the one who decides how you want to learn, which instrument to get, and whether you will involve a teacher and to what extent. If you love jazz, you’re free to focus solely on this genre and forget about classical. You are the one dictating your own learning process.

The second is that having spent years of learning a wide variety of topics, you are now an expert on how you learn best. Maybe you love group settings and learn best surrounded by others. Or perhaps you do better in self-directed, independent study courses. Whatever your learning style, you have the ability to choose a format tailored to meet your needs. No one is forcing you to sit in lessons week after week with a teacher who is completely out of sync with your learning style.

And the third advantage when you learn piano as an adult is that both your body and brain are fully developed. Your fingers can physically reach in a multitude of hand positions. You don’t need books under your feet to facilitate better body posture at the keyboard. And your attention span allows better concentration for longer stretches of time. Learning can therefore occur more efficiently than it could have earlier in your life.

But if I haven’t quite convinced you on the advantages of learning as an adult, check out an earlier post I wrote covering this topic.

Learn Piano as an Adult with this Secret Method

You’ve thoughtfully weighed out the pros and cons of whether to learn piano as an adult and decided to go for it. First of all … good for you! Learning to play piano brings hours of satisfaction and enjoyment unlike any of the other creative arts.

But now what? How do you go about getting started?

Lucky for you, today’s technological advances offer you a multitude of choices. Between online lessons, apps, and courses, you can find the genre and learning opportunity which best fits your needs.

Although there are many great courses out there which offer amazing results, I do have a personal favorite. This particular course is led by a world-renowned pianist who has spent years studying with some of the top pianists in the world. Despite his outstanding talent and advanced degrees in music, he has a way of presenting information in a way which is both encouraging and informative.

His down-to-earth, friendly teaching style makes learning piano approachable whether you are a beginner or are simply looking to expand your repertoire. Although I do fall into the latter category, I have worked through a significant number of his beginner videos and feel it is possible to learn the instrument from the very beginning with this course.

Several months after purchasing the course, I continued to believe so strongly in its value and ability to fit into the adult piano learner life that I actually became an affiliate for the course.

My Why

Whether you are an absolute beginner or began playing as a child but stopped at some point, studying the piano has so much to offer! My own history with the instrument started at the age of 7 when I began lessons with the teacher in my town. I continued to play throughout high school but never took playing as seriously as I should have.

After high school, I decided to pursue music in college and eventually graduated with a fine arts degree. My college years were plagued with debilitating performance anxiety and self-doubt. Needless to say, both interfered with practicing and with my progression as a pianist.

There was a period of time when I even considered pursuing a masters in music. Ultimately, self-doubt won out and I convinced myself it wasn’t the “practical” thing to do. My career path therefore took a completely different turn.

Despite my own struggles with devoting a career to music, I continued to love the piano! And I kept playing sporadically after college but found juggling work and family life with developing my pianistic skills challenging.

My background is in classical piano and although I appreciate all genres, this is the one I love the most! Classical can be a challenging genre as it requires clear progression of technique to continue advancing. And technique was an area I felt lacking in my playing.

In response to my perceived deficits, I found a couple of college professors willing to give me a few lessons. One lived in a town over an hour away so for each lesson, I needed to carve a minimum of 3 hours out of my weekly schedule.

The other lived in my town but was incredibly busy and it was difficult to find time which worked for us both, especially as my career advanced.

I desperately wanted to continue making progress but without regular guidance from someone more advanced than myself, felt stuck.

Learn Piano as an Adult on Your Terms

And then one day I was listening to a podcast. It was an interview with a pianist who not only was traveling the globe performing some of the most difficult piano repertoire ever written but who had also created an online community of learners. A community of people who were, like me, searching for help in their own piano journeys.

The interview was incredibly uplifting and helpful so I began following his YouTube channel.

I continued to be impressed with the depth of his knowledge on a wide variety of topics ranging from practice efficiency to performance anxiety to technique and began to see improvements in my own playing.

After a few months, I decided that if I was getting this much value from his free YouTube resources, how much more value would I get from his paid course?

And so, I took the leap. I joined the Lifetime Access to ProPractice course and haven’t looked back since!

The Lifetime Access option enables you to watch every past and future video he puts out in the ProPractice series at your own pace. With this option, you can watch videos ranging in difficulty from beginner through advanced. You can also choose to watch videos on specific pieces within the piano repertoire.

It truly is piano learning on your terms!

#1 Benefit of this Online Course

You’re busy. Chances are, you’re juggling work, family, and a host of other obligations. Sneaking time out of your schedule to take up a new hobby may not be high on your priority list. I get it.

But every time you tell that little creative self “no,” it shrinks just a bit more. And the regret of not trying grows just a bit bigger.

The major benefit of this course for those who want to learn piano as an adult is its flexibility. In the traditional piano lesson model, you meet with an instructor on a regular basis. Many instructors require lesson fees up front and penalize for missing lessons.

It’s a smart feature to have from the perspective of the instructor because they’re making a living doing what they love. For them, a missed lesson is missed income. I completely understand the rationale.

But as a busy adult, it’s unrealistic to think that you will never have to cancel a lesson at the last minute. Kids get sick. Work gets busy. And our priorities need to shift sometimes. There will be seasons when it’s simply not possible to devote as much time and energy into your passions.

And that’s ok! Investing in this course gives you the flexibility to decide when and how much time you are able to devote to your piano learning journey on any given day.

You’re not forced to take a lengthy hiatus from your learning when life gets busy. You can instead decide to scale back on your own learning time. No one but you is impacted. You have the control over your own learning.

A Word About the Traditional Piano Learning Model

In no way am I suggesting that an online course replaces the value inherent to learning under the watchful guidance of an instructor. There are multiple advantages to receiving expert feedback from someone knowledgeable in piano performance.

But I am saying that learning this way is not always feasible for busy adults. If your goal is to learn piano as an adult, then there may be times when your end goal requires adjustment in how you get there.

In an ideal world, guidance from an instructor would supplement what you learn in the ProPractice course. But if you are forced to choose between the two, the course is definitely a feasible option to maintain your busy life.

And if you are at the point where you’re already fitting regular lessons in your life, consider investing in specific videos to supplement your learning. There are a variety of purchasing options based upon both level of difficulty and specific repertoire. Lifetime Access to ProPractice is an investment and it’s smart to try it out on a smaller scale to ensure it will meet your specific learning needs prior to fully investing.

If you decide to go the route of a piano teacher, make sure to check out this list of online teachers accepting new students. Each of the teachers on the list has an incredibly unique background and perspective and at the end of the day, it’s tough to beat 1:1 instruction!

It’s Your Turn

I hope this post has inspired you to continue your piano journey! Whether you are an absolute beginner or have played in the past, now is as good of a time as any to get back into it!

The ProPractice course is an amazing resource for a wide range of people who want to learn piano as an adult. And if you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Josh Wright, here are a few of my favorite videos:

Advice for adult piano learners.

This video is all about how to reduce tension in your playing.

Tips on how to allocate your practice time.

You can access the ProPractice Course and explore other video options here. Until next time, play your heart out and forget about what anyone else thinks of your playing. The only opinion that matters in terms of your own creativity is yours!

And if you’re looking for extra practice help, make sure you check out this post with my secret practice weapon and an exclusive offer!

“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”

Henry van Dyke