Organize Your Piano Practice


The hardest part of practicing the piano is finding the time. 

In our busy world, it is not always easy to set aside 30 minutes a day to practice the piano. In addition, the fact that the piano is often practiced solo (not in a group setting) only exacerbates the situation.

I’ve learned over the years of playing and teaching that the problem lies in direction rather than time. Often, students can find a few minutes here or there to sit at the piano. However, without a clear direction to follow, students will get bored and practice less and less.

In fact, a focused 10 minutes a day of practice can produce real results in your piano playing only if you are focused.

This chart shows you a breakdown of focus challenges that our students have submitted.

You’ll see that a lack of direction is by far the biggest challenge.

In our chart, not having time is on par with being bored. Again, I believe that the less direction you have in your practice, the more you become bored and the easier it is to give up and say that you “don’t have the time to practice.”

So how do we improve our practice?

The first step in improving your practice routine is to have lesson structure. By categorizing lessons as foundational and fun’dational, the Jazzedge method gives you the ability to focus your piano practice.

Start by dividing your time equally between working on foundational material like scales, technique, reading and fun’dational material like songs and repertoire.

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  1. The more I read/hear about ‘practicing,’ the more this proportion comes up: half technique and half repertoire. As a student and a teacher, it seems the more reliable as well as logical. Of course, we all want to improve our technique, but the reason we play is to make music; and putting significant time into repertoire will help us all to improve and use the technique we practice. Willie, your lessons [and your enthusiastic and honest encouragement!..] are excellent and valuable. Thanks for all the help.

    1. You got it Paul, in my opinion it all comes down to repertoire. After all, people want to hear SONGS not just random improvisation. I always suggest getting down a repertoire of at least a dozen songs you can play well, then focus on improvising over those songs after you’ve got them under your fingers.

JPC glossary / key

  • RH – right hand
  • LH – left hand
  • HT – hands together
  • CM – contrary motion (to move in opposite directions)
  • Harmonically – to play as chords (all notes together at once)
  • Melodically – to play as a melody (single note) – arpeggiate
  • R7, R3, R37 – chord shells (Root-7th, Root-3rd, Root-3rd-7th respectively)
  • bpm – beats per minute. Refers to the metronome setting