Use It, Don’t Lose It
One of the biggest compliments received by ProProach members of the program is that it emphasizes the utilization of what is learned. That program places a heavy focus on learning new piano chord voicings but it doesn’t stop there. You see, it actually provides genuine examples of the techniques and strategies discussed being incorporated into actual songs. There is no better way to reinforce newly learned concepts.
Do you make a regular habit of using what you practice?
If you happen to be working at perfecting a particular song segment, then it is clear that your practice time is being applied musically. But what about those exercises, including scales and patterns? Do you generally go through the motions of playing them or do you make efforts to incorporate them in musical scenarios?
For example, if you are a student of Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist, it is understood that these exercises were created for certain specific technical benefits. At the same time, they can be put to music, too. Have you ever thought about using a little portion of Exercise #1, for instance, as a piano fill for the turnaround section of a standard song such as How High The Moon (by Nancy Hamilton & Morgan Lewis)?
What about those scales? A major (no pun intended) reason they are often viewed as boring “have to’s” is because they are often not used beyond the context of those scale books. Jazz players make a habit of putting scales and patterns into practice with their improvisations. But you don’t have to be a jazz musician to learn to take your practice time into more creative realms.
Obsessed With Conformity?
“But I’m a classical player and putting fills into Beethoven’s Fur Elise isn’t something people do!”
It’s true that most people don’t. Along with that, you aren’t very likely to hear Beethoven’s music to be modified in such a fashion. Actually, that’s a topic for another writing but who is to prevent you from being creative with that music? It has been said by someone wise that the opposite of courage is conformity. Maybe “coloring outside the lines” is what you just might need to add “pizzazz” to your practice routine. Consider watching some video recordings of master entertainer Victor Borge and allow yourself to be inspired!
Colorize Your Experience
Okay, a main point here – and it would be accurate to say this was my inspiration for creating 88 Keys To Learning – is this: be sensitive to those moments in your practice routine when your emotions/feelings leave the inspirational stage.
Sure, there can be technical value in performing exercises in a disciplined manner even if you’re not absolutely loving the experience… BUT there’s a whole lot MORE value in it if you ARE loving it!
Consider keeping an index card on your piano’s music stand that reads, “How can I turn this particular experience into something even more fun and rewarding?” What a powerful little reminder that can go a long way toward not only having a more enriching practice session… but also a greater day!