The Five Minute Piano Practice Method -- How to get an hours' worth of practice at the piano done in five minutes
Isn't it funny how easily we are distracted as soon as we sit down to practice at the piano? It's as if some magic distraction fairy descends down from the sky and places something shiny in the corner of our eyes or flashes an image of that delicious deli sandwich we had the day before. Ultimately this leads us to get frustrated on why our playing hasn't improved in two months or thinking we don't have the patience or discipline necessary to focus. It's easy to get discouraged when you find yourself in the normal day-to-day grind especially when you don't have a game plan that prepares you for success. This is why I've put together a game plan to help you to be 10 times more productive, see instant results and feel better than you've ever felt playing the piano. Most of this is common sense however most people don't stop to think about how their practice effects not only their playing, but their attitude towards themselves and the piano. By the time you finish reading this my hope is that you will have picked up at least one simple tip that will save your hours of otherwise wasted practice time, help you double, triple and even multiply 10 times your rate of practice and retention.
#1 PRACTICE WHEN YOUR MIND IS "FRESH"
Most people say "I'm going to try to practice harder this time!" and then after a 9 to 5 day they sit, exhausted, at the piano and try to bang out a few notes before finally throwing their hands up in the air and saying "forget it!" Have you ever done this and then the next day started completely fresh and things just seemed easier? Believe it or not, it's very common and the reason being is your mind was fresh when you revisited the material the next day. This is why we have to carefully, purposefully and meticulously find a time of the day when our mind is freshest. Have you ever asked yourself when you feel the most alert? Is it 2pm in the afternoon or is it at 7:30am right before breakfast? Is it at midnight? Really be thoughtful about this and begin scheduling your practice times around the times your mind is at it's most fresh.
#2 EAT THE FROG
Furthermore when we practice, we tend to avoid the hardest passages, concepts, chords, etc. and we go for the easy stuff first. Then when we do eventually go to the hard stuff, we've spent all our brain power playing what we already know and by the time we get to the hard stuff we feel fatigued and leave it for tomorrow. Sometimes we just have to "Eat the Frog". Don't worry, you won't have to actually eat a frog! It's just an expression that basically means to start with the most challenging area you are working on, whether it be chords or scales or sight reading or fingering etc. and get that out of the way first. After you use your freshest brain power to conquer the hardest part, then you only have the easy stuff to look forward to and it becomes rewarding to play. Consider this -- when you see movers clearing out a house, notice that they always start with the heaviest items first. This is because the loading process is much easier once they have all the heaver items packed away and out of the way. It's the same thing with your practice. Trust me, this simple strategy will save you countless hours down the road and speed your learning rate dramatically.
#3 GET AN HOURS' WORTH OF PRACTICE DONE IN FIVE MINUTES
Sometimes we can spend an entire hour or more practicing at the piano and realize we've gotten close to nothing accomplished. I know, I've been there! However it's possible to get more done in five minutes than you can get in an hour and I'll tell you how. Make sure you can practice at a time your mind is fresh and you have as little distraction around you as possible. Set a timer for 5 minutes, then start working on ONE thing at the piano. If you're a reader it may be one measure or if you're learning by ear it may be one chord or one five second clip. Whatever it may be, just hammer away at it for five straight minutes. No breaks and no deviations. Just focus on that one part until the timer is up. This only works with "focused" practice so no dreaming about lunch or when your favorite TV program is coming on. I'm going to emphasize that you must block all distractions out of your mind. If you can stay focused, you'll find that doing this will 10x your rate of practice and when you revisit the material the following day it will be more ingrained in your memory.
EXTRA TIDBIT For you more experienced players, you may want to consider placing a distraction around you on purpose and work on blocking it out and staying focused. For example put the TV on with the volume up or play Pandora or Spotify through your phone. This especially helps for being an expert at blocking out distractions that may happen during performance situations.
Harry L. Rios
Founder of HarryLRios.com
Harry L. Rios.com