Vanna Chun performs “Morning” by Edvard Grieg, arranged by Faber, in her lesson.When Vanna found out that I wanted to post her video to YouTube, it motivated her practice and memorize this piece within no time!
Each year, I introduce a new challenge for my students to engage in. At the end of the school year, the students who attained the goal are honored with a trophy! For the 2014 – 2015 school year, my challenge to each student in my studio is to practice 200 days from September – May! This comes out to approximately 5-6 days per week. Each day they practice, they will fill in a star on the chart below (click to download and print). The first student to reach 200 days will receive special recognition! Parents, please hold your children accountable by having them come to you first before they fill in the star.
If you would like to use other charts, I have found a few others online that might appealing. I’m looking forward to a successful year of practice!
Piano lessons are not successful unless students learn how to practice on their own. Each lesson, I usually write down a list of songs and technical exercises for my students to be practicing. For each song, I found myself writing down similar objectives. Instead of rewriting the list each week, I decided to create a practice guide. Here’s what I have assembled for my students, who are just starting to learn how to read music:
Practice Guide for the Piano
Before you start practicing, make sure you are at a good distance from the piano. Sit up tall and place your feet flat on the floor or on a stool. Number your fingers (remember, thumbs up number 1). Place your hands on your knees to help you form a good hand shape. You are ready to begin!
Practice ONE measure at a time. Play with one hand first. Once you go through the list below, practice with the other hand.
Name the notes in the music before you start playing on the piano (A B C D E F G)
Find your hand placement on the piano: Name the first note in the music. Which hand plays that note? Which finger plays that key on the piano? Repeat for the other hand.
Play and name the notes 3 to 5 times.
Play and count the rhythm 3 to 5 times.
Practice the entire song with both hands SLOWLY. After you are done, ask yourself the questions below. If you answered with “No” or “Maybe”, play it again until you can say, “Yes” to each question.
Did you play the correct notes?
Did you count aloud (or in your mind) throughout the piece?
Did you play with a steady beat?
Did you play with curved fingers and with a ball-shaped hand?
Practice musicianship hands together.
Try to play the song with a warm, round tone.
What are the dynamics? Practice them (Forte is played heavy. Piano is played light. Mezzo Forte is in between Forte and Piano).
If you started learning music through reading music rather than by learning by ear, “Lean on Me” is one of the easier songs to learn on the piano by ear. It uses one chord shape (the first inversion of each chord) in the right hand and a single note in the left hand for the bass notes. The easiest part – it’s in the key of C! If you are piano player, try to figure it out!