3 Key Elements to Your Success at the Piano

What are the three elements crucial for you to achieve your goals at the piano, whether it be for pleasure, exam, or work?

1. Lessons

Suffice to say, you need to go to your lessons in order to learn to become good at the piano. For players of any levels, you must log in the lesson times regularly. Especially for beginners or diploma candidates, or anyone preparing for an exam or wanting to improve with a constant progress, taking lessons regularly is a must not a choice. For more experienced candidates of diploma levels, you might choose to take consultation sessions but even so it should be on a regular basis but not only a week before your exam date! But you must also BE PREPARED for your lessons, meaning getting ready for it – in your practice and your thinking and mindset – and always come up with questions to ask your teacher. You do not want to sit around and wait for the teacher to ask you if you have any problem with your practice. Be proactive and you will learn so much more than those who sit around and wait to be asked.

2. Practice

Going to lessons, albeit important, is only part of the game.

You must also log in time for your practice

So how much time are we talking about?

I say, “regularly“. That means instead of logging in 1 5-hour session a week, try 5 1-hour sessions a week. Piano practice is like training your muscles at the gym, you get more done effectively by training yourself at the piano more regularly per week than squeezing in all the practice in one day.

3. Strategy

Logging in time is not enough. You have to know what to do with your practice time. Do you cook without knowing what dishes you will make at the end? Do you start on a project without knowing what you need to achieve at the end?

Having a strategy in every practice session is the most crucial but at the same time the most ignored element in every student’s practice.

What are the three key elements of a strategy?

1. What

What do you want to get done in this practice? No one gets anything done without knowing what to get done before the practice starts.

Always PLAN at the beginning of every practice. Is there a particular phrase you find difficulty in playing smoothly? Or do you find trouble speeding up the piece?

Identify a few key elements you want to work on before you start gives you focus in the practice. Most importantly, you know what exactly you are doing instead of just going through the motion, which is not I would call “practice”!

2. How

After you have identified a few key elements you will focus on in the practice, you have to ask the second question, “how do I practice it?” What do you have to do to play it better? There are always two sides of our playing: TECHNICALITY and MUSICALITY. Technicality is how you execute the piece physically while musicality is how you play the piece emotionally and intellectually.

3. How much time

If you have only one hour to practice, what do you do with your time? You must allocate the time accordingly. For instance, in that one hour, 10 minutes is dedicated to scales, 10 minutes technique awareness/exercises, 20 minutes piece A, 20 minutes piece B etc (and of course what to do with each piece as said in point 2 “How”). Then you would know you have done something solid (and feel happy and satisfied!) after you finish that practice session.

This is what I always tell students to do with their practice. How about you? What do you do as a student and how do you plan as a teacher?


Plan your practice!
Plan your practice!


Have a musical weekend,

Teresa Wong

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