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The A-Theme: Piano, Keyboard, Theory & Composition Lessons
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Playing piano is not only a relaxing pastime but has been scientifically proven to increase one's IQ by actually developing new neuron pathways in the brain. While it may seem like a difficult skill to learn, with the proper technique it can be done very effectively. Some of the world's foremost authorities on piano playing have provided piano practice tips for adults. While many of these tips may seem obvious, they can be very useful and it would serve the budding adult pianist well to keep them handy and reference them if they are getting discouraged or feeling like they have reached a plateau. Even the grand masters started at the beginning and some of these tips are the same ones they used early in their careers.

• Before beginning practice, it is essential that one perform some light exercise with their hands to warm them up. While there are a multitude of ways to do this, most experts recommend that arpeggios and running through a few scales be performed to achieve the necessary state they must be in to be truly ready to play.

• Start slowly. Playing piano as a beginner is not a race to the finish line. Make sure to play each section or piece as slow as humanly possible to maximise an efficient piano practice. This will virtually ensure that no mistakes can be made. By playing so slowly, the movement and proper placement of the fingers can be better analysed than they could be by playing at the regular tempo.

• Since the brain absorbs its understanding of music much more efficiently when it is not deluged with long pieces, it is much better to practice shorter snippets of passages. This is much easier than, say, trying to memorise and learn an entire sonnet all at once. Practice a short piece every day until it is mastered and then move on from there.

• Repeat, repeat, repeat. That's right, repetition is key when it comes to learning how to play music. This is true no matter what instrument is being played. Although it may be boring on the surface, repeatedly playing the same piece creates an effect of automation in the brain so that it just becomes second nature to play the piano for adult beginners.

• As children and young adults, we are taught to not dwell on things, but in piano practice the opposite is actually true. Think about the piece that you are practising even when you are not in front of the piano. During lunch break, try and envision relations between notes. Hum the tune while in the lift or while driving. Even thinking about finger placement when at the computer keyboard can be useful. By constantly thinking about the tune, you are letting it become one with your soul!

• Remain consistent with your piano practice routine. Many practitioners feel that first thing in the morning is the best as their mind is still fresh and uncluttered by any events of the day. However, be realistic and only practice when you can devote full attention to the matter at hand. 10 minutes of focused concentration is far better than 30 minutes of daydreaming on the keys.

• Keep a notebook handy and write down what is expected out of each practice session. The key to this is to stick to it. Finish one goal before moving on to the next one. Absolutely refrain from bouncing from passage to passage as this will only cause delays in the completion of all of your tasks. Remain organised in both your life and your goals and you will succeed in both that much easier.

• Mistakes are never simply "mistakes". They are a clear sign that either speed is becoming a detriment and the playing needs to be slowed down or that the mind itself is lacking attentiveness and perhaps the practitioner needs to step away from the piano and refresh themselves mentally. Whatever the cause may be, it needs to be corrected before error-riddled playing takes over. This is a huge drain on both mental energy and on precious time.

• Always pay attention and note where the hands are at all times. Knowing proper hand placement is the most crucial of all things to know when it comes to learning how to play piano well. Even the masters watch their hands when they play.

Remember, many of the approaches that are learned on how to practice piano efficiently can actually be transferred and implemented in everyday life. From organisation and focus to determination and consistency, the good practice habits help to make all aspects of life function more smoothly. Piano playing is much like the martial arts, in this case, as the amount of pleasure and mastery that you get out of the art is entirely proportional to the amount of energy that you put in.

Alan

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