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Piano Practice Tips - Optimize Your Practicing


Tip #2

Practicing Piano, Tip #2: Using Rhythms

The Challenge... Playing a passage oh, so smoothly. You can ripple through the whole passage, but there are a few points where, no matter how many times you play it, you stumble or hesitate.

I’m assuming that you already know the passage well enough to make it through, within a ballpark of the tempo you’re aiming for. These techniques will also help you to increase your overall tempo, however they won’t really help you to learn something brand new.

Let’s use Hanon’s first exercise.

Hanon 16ths

If this is just too easy, do it in C#

Hanon c#

Grab your metronome (sometimes I use a drum machine- no soul, but a steady beat for sure).

Find a tempo about half of what you’ve been practicing at. Play the passage as if all of the notes have the same value (all quarter notes). Be sure that you can play it with a lot of freedom at that slow tempo. If not, slow down even more. You have to get it right before you can get it fast.

Now, play it with a sharp swing. (Slow-quick-slow-quick)

Hanon Swing

Increase the tempo by one tick each time through. (The metronome is your friend)

Now do it reversing the rhythm: quick-slow… quick-slow…

Hanon Reverse Swing

When you reach the normal tempo, play it without the syncopation. Repeat if necessary.

You can also play with other rhythmic alterations. For example, play sets of four notes as “slow, quick, quick, quick” (a dotted eight note follow by three 16th notes). Follow this with “quick, slow, quick, quick” and then “quick, quick, slow, quick” and “quick, quick, quick, slow”.
Hanon 3-1

 

Hanon 3-2

 

Hanon 3-3

 

Hanon 3-4

You’ll probably notice significant improvement with just minutes of doing this. Note however, that you might have to repeat the procedure over the course of several days’ practicing for the results to really stick.

Now, this isn’t just about Hanon. Use this technique for any regular passages. Make up your own variations to fit the part you’re practicing.

Check back regularly for new tips

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