© Veronika Davy 2010, all rights reserved.

The most important thing I can teach my students is how to practice. 

Think about what practicing really is… Practicing is teaching yourself!


•Keep in mind that while you are practicing you should be:

1.Teaching your brain to think!

•  Don’t just sight read your pieces every day… Look for patterns!


•Phrase Structure



•Familiar technical patterns (chords, scales, arpeggios, etc.)

•Remember:  Making the learning process of each piece a conscious process will help you tremendously at the memorization stage!

•Think like a teacher:  Analyze throughout the practice session:

•Is what you are doing creating the desired result?

•If not, what are you going to do to achieve this?

2.Teaching your ears to listen!

  1. You are not just listening to the sounds that come out of the instrument… you should

   always be ‘pre-hearing’ what you intend to create with the instrument before you


• Your ear needs time to learn the music. 

•Play individual voices separately, listening carefully.  (Singing along with individual lines helps teach your ear too.)

•Play harmonic changes slowly listening to the direction created by the chord progression and the different colours created by each chord.

•Listen carefully as you play and analyze what you hear…  Were you able to create the desired results?  If not, how will you achieve these?

  1. Record yourself and listen to the recording.  We hear differently when we are

   actually playing.  You will have a much more accurate impression of what you

   sound like if you listen to a recording of yourself.

3.Teaching your body to translate what you hear in your mind through the instrument!

  1. This is where technique comes in …  the purpose of technique is to give you the tools

   you need to create the music you hear in your head.

‘Technique is communication: The two words are synonymous’ – Leonard Bernstein

General Practice Tips:

‘Bad habits are like a comfortable bed…

...Easy to get into but hard to get out of’  Proverb

  1. Quality of practice is more important than quantity of practice!

  2. Begin with a short warm up away from the piano.  This will help you focus and prepare your

    body for playing.

•Read practice instructions!

•Begin with the item that needs the most work.  Your brain is freshest at the beginning of a practice session.

•Never repeat a passage without a reason.  Practicing definitely involves repetition.  But repetition alone will do you no good.

oAsk yourself, why you are repeating a particular passage and what do you hope to accomplish.

oWith each repetition, LISTEN to yourself!  Are you achieving your goal?

oIf 3 repetitions do not achieve this goal, think of how else you might go about practicing the passage (repeating mistakes is teaching your hands the mistakes!) Some suggestions include:

•Play the passage slower

•Review hands separate


•Break things down to their simplest forms (i.e. play broken chords solid, identify all other familiar technical patterns, etc.)

•In every practice session think ‘small picture’ AND ‘big picture’.

oWork on small sections to polish technique, phrasing, etc.

oPlay through your piece or an entire section of the piece to keep the ‘big picture’

    in mind!


‘Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired’ - Martha Graham